Some of the older readers of Designussion may have fond memories of Loverboy’s 1981 hit “Working for the Weekend”, but how does this apply to most of us who are freelance designers? A common dilemma faced by freelancers is whether or not to work at the weekend. There are rewards in terms of more earnings and it can be hard to say no.
Working as a freelancer can mean quitting the 9 to 5 routine to find more appropriate times to work, but does it also mean you have to become a machine who works weekends, bank holidays and the like?
What problems are encountered by those of us who work and the weekend, and why should we avoid it?
Needing a day off
I think most of us who are self-employed can remember the day we quit our jobs. I was free, excited and had the whole world in front of me. It didn’t take too long to notice that freelancing is not as easy as it sounds, and can actually be very difficult. Maybe one of the biggest reasons why it gets so hard so quickly is due to the fact that many new freelancers struggle to manage their time effectively. Before long, you’ll be working far more hours than you did in your day job, missing lunch breaks and forgetting to go to bed.
If this sounds a bit like you and your current habits, you really need to stop now and re-think your work-life. Everybody needs a day off sometimes, and without taking one you will be lost for inspiration, poorly motivated and you won’t see a prosperous future. Start taking a regular weekend off to spend time with loved ones or enjoying your favourite hobby.
Working on the Weekend
There can sometimes be advantages to working over the weekend, however, I would say if you want to do this, then allocate some days during the week to take time off. All of us are productive at different times of the day/week so work around this accordingly. If you happen to be most productive on the weekend, then by all means work; just make sure you take time off during the week to compensate.
Certainly, the joys of taking a day off on a regular week day for myself is that everywhere is quiet and I can get a lot more done. For example, when shopping, there is a smaller queue so I can get what I need a lot faster. This also helps reduce the stress of shopping which can be a nightmare on the weekends. Combine this with being able to walk around freely without worrying about hurrying back to the office to keep the boss happy!
One of the other problems with working weekends is that your clients often don’t. This means you may have to wait a number of days to get a response to a simple question and can even delay getting paid. I tend to find working on my own personal projects is most effective over the weekend as I have no-one else to rely on.
Working on the weekend can quickly kill your motivation and therefore effectiveness as a freelancer. Make sure you arrange time off during the week to make up for time worked elsewhere. There is no right or wrong way to do it – you work for you now so can make your own decisions. Find out what works best for you and go with that. No-one is going to tell you that you are wrong so just experiment!