I've been thinking recently about going freelance full-time, a decision I made just over three years ago. What is one of the key differentiators from the ol' 9-to-5 is lacking a boss. To give myself the autonomy of determining how I spend my work day (or night) wasn't easy at first, because I was so used to a structure set out by bosses or colleagues, despite how much freedom I was awarded as a key figure in the startup.
So I had to get organized with my schedule. At first, I micro-managed my day, creating an Excel spreadsheet to lay out what I intended to accomplish every hour, even half-hour. For example, 9am to 10am would be working on my site, 10am to 11am would shift me to pitching ideas to BBC News, and then I gave myself a two-hour window of lunch and reading time, and then I was back for a half-hour of researching about an upcoming article, then slotted myself 30 minutes to conduct a short interview and then-
You get the picture. As comforting as it was to return to a schedule that held me to responsibilities that I truly wanted to do, I thought I was rolling down the right path. But that rigid structure soon got on my nerves because I realized a simple truth about a life without a boss: the beauty of spontaneity. There's something tasty about giving in to gut instinct, to crumbling the schedule and 3-point-shooting it into the trash can, and saying to yourself, "Let's see how the day goes. Let's just roll with it."
That decision evoked such a feeling of comfort in me, I got all warm and fuzzy just thinking about my upcoming day, which could be, well, filled with whatever I desire. Head to the Distillery District to work out of a cafe? Boom it's happening! Spend the morning swimming at a public pool, then read the new Wired on a patio before writing an 800-worder for a client? I'm down like James Brown in Motown!
A job without a boss isn't without its hazards, such as wallowing in the summer sun for so long you neglect that grant-writing that needs to get done, and so you'll likely finish it within an hour of the deadline. You also can get lonely, without someone to bounce ideas off, or even just riff with during lunch. But I enjoy being with myself (I can already hear you brainstorming a terrible masturbation joke) and I love that I relish my Dave time. That isn't easy for everyone.
Slipping into this lifestyle has its peaks and valleys, but I've definitely immersed myself so deep in the freelance life it's difficult to rearrange my behaviour for a day job. Been there, slayed that. Now, to be my own boss is the challenge I'm tackling as a freelance journalist, and I'm savouring a different kind of joy with wins I call my own.
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