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FREELANCE vs. OFFICE WORK – The disadvantages of freelancing

Last week we talked about the advantages of freelancing. It is indeed something to look into, something to analyze and maybe even try on. To some, it will fit right into place, like a great hat that you never dared to wear before (and you wonder why, ’cause it’s so cool). For others, it will feel awkward and inappropriate and you’ll just know you aren’t going to wear it again (at least not so soon).

But in order to see the whole picture and make an informed decision, here are some of the disadvantages you need to consider:

1. The discipline challenge

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This is where being disciplined really pays off. Since you spend all your time in your own environment, you are prone to getting distracted – so if you aren’t very focused, you can find yourself surfing the web for new living room furniture or doing the dishes and yelling at your spouse because they didn’t do them first.

For me, this was the single most difficult thing I had to cope with in the last 2 or 3 months of freelancing. However, I learned that once you go on a daily schedule and you really respect it, almost all distractions start to fade away. There is, of course, the will power element – a very significant variable which depends on our own motivation and the resources we are ready to employ.

2. Financial management skills needed

Since you are the one to manage your finances, you will have to pay more attention to this aspect and in time really get good at it. For one who hasn’t had anything to do with this area, it may be a real challenge to keep the records straight and foresee possible issues. You have to consider the fact that your income is variable and maybe save up some money for less productive times.

What really helped with my pretty desperate case was a good financial budgeting software, like YNAB – it does come with a free trial version, so that you can see if you like it and if you decide to purchase it, the price is somewhere around EUR 30. Totally worth it, if you ask me.

3. Losing touch with your social life

2For some of us socializing may be more important than for others, but for all of us it is certainly a component of life. So working from home can make you start to feel lonely and crave human contact, since a video conference now and then cannot replace a chat with one of your coworkers over a work report or a nice piece of apple pie. As I might have mentioned, I am not an extremely social individual, but there are times when I just need to be with people, make small talk and ask for someone’s opinion face to face for a change.

So in order to stay in touch with your social life no matter how much work you got going on, you could schedule more time with your family and friends – let’s say once a week or every other week ( if you’re experiencing a very busy period).

4. You have to be your own motivation

As opposed to working within a company, where your colleagues and superiors will offer their constant support, encouragement and give you immediate feedback on your work, being a freelancer means you are supposed to make it all happen for yourself.

First of all, you have to be your own critic and an objective one. Secondly, you need to do for yourself what you imagine a good boss would do for you – give yourself breaks, free time, holidays and why not, casual bonuses. (N.B. I’m pretty great at this one! :) )

5. Where did my day go?

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When you work from home as a freelancer you spend most of your time at your desk and it might just give you the feeling that you have been there forever. Moreover, since you don’t have to go out for almost anything, your time won’t be fragmented between activities and this may become hard to manage or even infuriating, when after a day of hard work you look at your watch to discover it’s too late to meet any of your friends or do anything else. And then you work some more.

What I have discovered is that the key to this issue is to separate your work activities from your personal activities – for instance by simply taking the time to eat away from your computer or see a friend for coffee during the one hour break you have planned for the day.

6. Watch your weight

And your posture! It’s hard to remember to be active when you hardly get out of home, especially if you’re on a deadline for months in a row. So even though working from home can keep you far from the daily stress, it can get you closer to sedentary-related issues.

Keep exercising, stock your fridge will lots of vitamin-rich food and don’t forget your health comes first.

It`s up to you!

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In conclusion, if faced with the choice between these two options, one needs to evaluate their own priorities and choose wisely. It takes a bit of courage to take the leap from working in a regular office to becoming a freelance work-at-home entrepreneur. It also takes courage to acknowledge the pros and cons and make the decision that fits you best.

But at the end of the day what really matters if that you enjoy your work as much as your environment. This is the only way you can ever hope to make a difference. But what’s for sure is that it`s very important to at least try, so that later on you don’t regret missing the opportunity.

It might not work exactly like you’ve imagined it right from the start. You might need time to get used to it; you might need time to get your first clients. Eventually, it`s up to you, so go on, get your hat!