Though I can’t recall what I said exactly, it was something along the lines of “I've been waiting for the weekend.” As those words left my lips, there was a subtle change in the atmosphere of the car, as if there was now some judgement mixed with the cool air of the air conditioner.
That’s when someone said out loud what was probably roller-skating in everyone’s mind: “But you work from home, why do you care about the weekend?”
*Cue internal sigh*
I can't lie; I knew it was coming. For a moment I was speechless. Not because I didn’t have an answer, but because I couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t understand.
Perhaps because I am a writer, people assume I type whatever I like on a blank screen and sell a skill that apparently everyone has for money that just slips out of my laptop’s vent.
As a serious freelance writer, I feel like a hamster running on a wheel that no one can see.
I spend most days of my week working. When the weekend rolls in, I take a break, because it’s 2020 and self-care is worth more than a dime.
Kidding. I take time off because regrouping and refreshing are important to ensure your tank doesn’t run out of productivity fuel for the next week. Besides, with some work seeping into my off hours all five days of the week, I don’t want to burn out.
Still wondering why I care as much about my weekend as any 9-to-5er? Here’s an inside look at the why:
1. Freelancing comes with an awful lot of stress.
A United Nations study from 2017 found that 41% of remote workers are highly stressed, compared to 25% of office goers. The same study also found that more remote workers struggled with insomnia than regular cubicle workers. And no, they don’t have trouble sleeping because they nap throughout the day, as many assume.
What’s the reason behind these higher stress markers? The authors of the report said that those who work from home have “longer working hours, higher work intensity and work-home interference.”
But that’s not all. As a freelancer, I have to manage quite a few clients at once. Also add to the list:
- The stress of meeting tight deadlines
- The stress of getting more clients on board
- The stress of reaching your monetary goals
- The stress of imposter syndrome
- The stress of talking to potential clients you’ve not met in person
2. It can be a literal pain in the neck.
Sure, there are lots of perks of freelance work — there’s flexibility, no exhaustion from a commute, no need to get dressed in the morning. But there’s a 24/7 fear of not progressing, not getting the time to relax and unwind.
A 2005 study published in Work & Stress concluded that freelancers struggled with “chronic strain and a reduced ability to relax.” Researchers said long working hours, along with a fluctuating workload, kept freelancers anxious, which has a number of physical effects. Couldn’t agree more.
Furthermore, an Epson study found that 25% of freelancers experienced depression due to isolation. Another study concluded that teleworking left workers with more physical and mental fatigue, as home and job stress bled into one another.
So, let’s bust the myth that shouldn’t need busting: Work is work no matter where you do it. You need to train your eyes away from the screen and give your back a break.
3. There are no clear boundaries.
To get any work done, you need to be in a state of flow. But, if I’m being honest, just being at home gets me sucked into the black hole of home chores and stress one way or another. Even if only a few minutes of every work hour go to home-related stuff, that’s hampered flow and lost time.
This means that after my work hours come to an end, I still have some work left because of distractions during the day. Which means I have to dedicate additional time to my work. Since my home is technically my office and vice versa, my work-life balance often gets toppled.
In the after-work hours, I’m usually checking my mailbox and social media channels. I take off on the weekends because that’s the only time I allow myself to temporarily separate from my laptop. One Buffer report proves I’m not the only teleworker unable to unplug. In fact, 22% of remote workers have difficulty unplugging once their work hours end.
There’s also the con that, unlike employees, freelancers do not have paid holidays. This means the choice to take a break comes with sacrificed bucks. Moreover, they have to pre-plan their vacations carefully and may have to even work during vacations.
A recent survey by HoneyBook found that 92% of freelancers in the U.S. work even when on vacations. Why?
- They don’t want to lose any revenue
- They don’t want to miss great opportunities from potential clients
- They fear they can be replaced if they are inaccessible for a few days
Considering how weekdays are filled to the brim and there are no paid vacays in sight, I really need weekends to myself.
4. There’s a lot on my plate.
Client work is not all that my time goes to. To thrive as a freelancer, marketing is key. This means I spend time building my online presence, nurturing relationships with prospects, and more.
To create engagement, regular blogging, social media posting, and excellent communication are musts. All this takes a lot of time and effort, which adds to the to-do list. Simple translation: I certainly need a break on weekends from all this.
Freelancers have it great but hard. They have to juggle work and life from the same spot, handle multiple bosses, chase more work, and market themselves too.
Remote work is scary. There’s flexibility but no breaks, and there’s loneliness, too. There’s no Chris from the neighboring cubicle, no Shelly to meet at the water cooler, and no one to sneak out for coffee with.
So, let me say this one more time, louder for those in the back: Weekends mean a lot to a freelance writer like me who works her brain off all week long.