Can you pay my skills?

Hmmm….four posts in and I’m making bad Destiny’s Child puns. This blog looks promising, doesn’t it?

So when I say I am ‘unemployed,’ what I really mean is ‘a bunch of people are employing me to do a bunch of small tasks for medium-cheap to highly reasonable sums of money in fits and starts.’ Cool, right?

Well, yes and no.

It is wicked to freelance. I am pretty new to the world of work, and the thrill of dabbling in a little bit of everything still exists. Right now I am:

  • drafting a proposal for a knowledge management consulting firm
  • developing the website architecture of a video library for another, smaller consulting company
  • hiring a storyboarder for the same small firm
  • marking 150 papers for a university business course

This is a nice variety. I don’t really know what kind of librarian I want to be, and it’s nice to get a sense of what I like and don’t like, what I excel at, and where I am weak. I have so far fallen into all of my library-like jobs  virtually by accident, and I have enjoyed all them. But there may be something I really don’t like doing, or that I am terrible at, and it would be nice to find that out when there’s only a short-term commitment to it.

Freelancing also means I can pit the desire to procrastinate with one workload against the deadlines of another. I am a GREAT procrastinator (there’s something to brag about), but I am getting better at doing it productively. If I don’t want to mark anymore, I do some research for a proposal. If I can’t stare at a screen anymore, I read the IA book I’ve got on my bedside table, or even do some actual layout sketches.

On the other hand, freelancing is the biggest energy-sucker I have ever encountered, and I consider myself a good multi-tasker.I have worked at a day camp, chasing after 12 four year olds all day. I have sat on three university committees in tandem while also being a full-time student, part-time nanny, and dedicated binge drinker (not at the same time). This is way, way more tiring.

What I have learned so far:

PLOT OUT YOUR DAY. If I don’t have a detailed action plan when I wake up (usually involving colour coded notes, a check list of emails, and some promise of reward), I am lost. I mean that! I will simply enter the internet and not come back until well into the afternoon. And by then the whole time zone is thinking about the end of their work day, and I start thinking like that too.

GET UP, YOU LAZY BUM. I started this working-at-home fiesta with a very different perspective. Some day I will have a job, then I will get up. Some day I will have kids, then I will get up even earlier. Some day I will be one of those old people who can’t sleep past 5, then I will get up wayyy early. But since I’m none of those things now, I may as well blissfully slumber til 11, right?

No, no, no. Some people probably thrive working whenever they want, but for others (well, at least me, probably others!) it is SO depressing to be so off-schedule.

TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE WORKING. Whether they care or not, I give friends and loved ones little itineraries of what I need to get done that day. This is usually as they’re heading out the door to their realer, more tangible jobs. This is accountability. If I didn’t think it was, well, pathetic, I’d post it on Facebook too. And I’d want to be bothered about it all day. (This is how I’ve gotten myself to do basically everything difficult or scary in my life. I just told people I was going to do it, and my stupid pride did the rest for me.) I also find myself applying for fewer and fewer full time jobs as I spend more and more time on other projects.

There are other reasons why freelancing is difficult, including the inability to predict my income, the inability to plan a sweeet summer vacation (or even a weekend away in March, which is what I really want to be doing right now), as well as just a general feeling of instability and insecurity.

That’s a lot of ‘ins’, huh?

So…what do you do to keep busy when you’re not surrounded by other busy, productive people? What do

(not actually my desktop….thanks, windsordi)

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