Posts tagged work

What was I thinking??

I took on a freelance job this week in addition to my other commitments. Why? I wish I knew!

I am regretting it heartily now. It’s due Friday. There’s about 25 hours of work. It’s nearly 1pm on Tuesday and the client still hasn’t contacted me with details. Even if I didn’t have kids and another job, I’d be pushing it.

Why did I do this to myself? I think it’s fair to say there will be NO study this week!

ETA: It’s now approaching 2.30pm and I still have absolutely nothing to work with. I wonder if I can pull out of this without appearing totally unprofessional? A job this size is a big ask on short notice and with a tight deadline, and with almost a whole day wasted it will be¬†practically impossible to finish on time.

ETA: The client finally contacted me just after 3pm. I spent nearly two hours on the phone then several more hours last night trying to make up lost ground. I got about 2000 words down last night. At 8 o’clock this morning the client called to say she had decided not to proceed. I don’t even mind – I will bill for the work I have done, and don’t have to worry about fitting the rest in.

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The downside to contracting

When you work for yourself, you really have to work for every penny. It seems like that should go without saying, but really I am only just learning this lesson.

When I said I wanted to work 22 hours a week (a lie – I *want* to work about two hours a week. or less) I was thinking about the work-from-home equivalent of spending 22 hours in the office. But it’s nowhere near the same thing.

All you salaried folk get to nick out to the loo, chat with your co-workers, surf the net, make a cuppa and get paid while you’re at it. If it’s a slow day in the office you take home the same amount of money as if it were a busy day.

I only get paid for work I can bill for. And I need to bill for about 22 hours a week to be comfortable. We could get by if I billed for only about 12, but it definitely wouldn’t be comfortable. The belt would be getting tight by about 16 hours per week.

22 hours really doesn’t seem that much, but I am finding I need to put in at least 30 hours at my desk in order to bill for 22. Maybe more.

Because I can’t bill for the time it takes to start the computer or read a brief, or for the few minutes I take to collect my thoughts before I do an interview. And I don’t get paid for all those five minute intervals where I am waiting for something to happen but don’t have time to switch into the headspace to work on something else.

And, worst of all, I don’t get paid a zac for those times when I just can’t focus and need to give my brain a little rest. In my old job, IVP was on the clock. In this job, every minute on IVP is another buck I am not making.

I would estimate that the average worker spends at least 25 per cent of their working time doing things not directly related to their job – chatting with colleagues, writing emails, surfing the net, eating, staring at the wall. Seriously – think about all the things you do in a day that are not absolutely essential to your core job function. Add them up and I expect the number over the course of the week to be at least several hours. For some people (ahem, sister…) there are times when the several hours mark can be reached in one day.

So, now I have to allow for¬†all those hours, then think about trying to fit 22 hours of actual work in on top of all that stuff. Add in a toddler who is at home every day, and a very demanding preschooler who is home on Mondays and Tuesdays. Then the endless round of preschool commitments (today I have to be at a mother’s day afternoon tea at 1.45), doctor’s appointments (Hugo’s due for 12 month jabs) and housework (which, I admit, does not get a great deal of attention from me).

22 hours seemed like a comfortable part time job, until I actually tried to fit it in. If I could get by on three hours sleep a night, I might be okay.

Until next month, anyway – then I’ll be trying to add a full time study load to the schedule.

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