Escaping 9 to 5: The Freelance Lifestyle.
What is wealth? It’s not money, which is its medium. Wealth is to sit with a cup of coffee; to capture thoughts that might matter to others; to have the freedom from the oppression of the nine to five routine to work on a personal masterpiece that may materially improve someone else’s life; and to gaze without focus at happy children outside the window, while you can remember a childhood forgotten without a trace in war and revolution. — Amin Arianna
People generally talk about hating their 9 to 5 jobs. The thing that irks me is not that they hate their jobs, but the fact that they refer it as 9 to 5 when it is actually 9 to 7.
The truth is, in India, we work 10–11 hours a day. And if you are like the most, you also end up working 6 days a week.These crazy hours spent at the office leads to horrible personal and social lives. Overworked employees become highly irritable and develop low tolerance levels.
To view the same issue from an employer’s perspective, the main objective is to increase the output. But making an employee work more hours beats its purpose. Especially in a knowledge-based work environment which involves a lot of thinking.
It is not some fable that the best ideas come during the time we are relaxing. Science says that if your mind is relaxed and full of dopamine (the chemical that your brain secretes when you do happy things), your brain is most likely to give you your best, most creative ideas.
So it is insanely illogical to expect people to produce gems without giving some time off. Same applies for people who think overworking is cool.
No matter how much you get paid, it doesn’t compensate for the lack of a social life, the time not spent with family, the fatigue. The worst part is most of us are proud of working crazy hours — like it is some sort of status symbol. There is no shame in relaxing a bit and taking care of ourselves. If that means to earn a little less, so be it.
But even if you want some time off, how do you do it in an office which thinks it owns your 24 hours in return for the salary they pay?
Welcome, the Gig Economy.
If you are thinking that gig economy is some difficult economic term like GDP or PPP, relax!
A Gig Economy, in short, means a job market, which is based on short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.
For the sake of this article, let’s also add remote employees to the list of freelancers, consultants, and contractors.
Any article about the freelance lifestyle is incomplete without talking about the idea of freedom and time to do the things that you want to do.
Why the gig economy suddenly makes so much sense?
Do you remember the elective you wanted to choose in college — the one that got shot down because it wasn’t a popular choice among other students? Even if it was, unless the college has the right teacher, hiring an expert full-time in a specific field, is not scalable. The gig economy makes it possible.
The trend toward a gig economy has begun. A study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.
As the world becomes more interconnected, it is becoming increasingly easy to get work done from anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection. This has led quite a few people to work remotely as part-time employees or as freelancers.
If you have ever worked for a startup, you know that you require a bunch of people with different skill sets — designers, content writers, animators or even web developers. But unfortunately, neither you would have the money nor the requirement to hire people full time. Hence it makes zero sense to hire a full-time employee.
Apart from this, businesses also save on employee benefits, hardware assets and other overheads of having a physical workplace.
Also, the traditional model zeroes in on people willing to work out of a particular country/state/city which cancels out the possibility of working with the best. Instead of working with the best in the world, you are just working with the best in your geography.
Gig economy is for people who get restless with the comfortable. Who are always on the lookout for more. It is for people who are tired of spending time at the office just to clock 8 hours even after completing their task.
Now if you are thinking about ditching your full-time job for the life of a freelancer/part-timer it is worth considering the pros and cons. Though it’s a great path, like everything else, it has its own set of challenges.
Why choose the freelance lifestyle?
- Freedom — be your own boss
- Flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime with anyone
- The ability to interchange time and money as per requirement — if you want time off, you always can say no to new projects
- Spending less time in traffic
- To do the things you want to do without guilt — work on a pet project, read during the course of the day, take an afternoon nap
- Can concentrate on getting the job well done rather than spending a lot of time on it
- Staying relevant
- If you don’t want to learn other survival skills — negotiation, marketing, finance and dealing with people
- No stability — you might not get any project to work or you might get too much to work on
- No fixed salary date — payments might take longer than expected or might never happen at all
- Work pays you even when you are on medical leave. Not freelancing. No work, no pay.
- It might take a while before you break even with your salary.
Last minute schedule- the project deadline is always yesterday.
- Get used to feeling anxious.
Most people don’t get this far. You did because you want to. You are cut out for it, don’t look back. Happy Gigging!
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