It’s been interesting going full-blown freelance since we moved. I have often written about time – it seems to be a recurring theme on this blog for some reason. I’ve written about being jealous of the time Dean gets, as well as how I need to carve time out of the day for myself. But since I’ve become someone who earns her living by literally charging by the hour, it’s changed my view of the value of time. I don’t just mean in terms of monetary value, but absolute value as well. It’s a good and a bad thing.
The reality is, freelance work by the hour has made me realize just how much value my time, energy and attention is worth.
My work day is all about the financial value of time
On an average day, I’m able to work for about 5 hours, or at least that’s my goal. Harley is at school from about 7:30 in the morning until about 4 in the afternoon. While in theory that should mean that I have 8.5 hours to work with, the reality is way less. I need to get her to and from school, which means travel time for me each way. Then there’s also my general hygiene and getting dressed, meals or snacks, as well as the fact that I can’t just work flat out for the whole time.
In an office, 7 or 8 hours in the office is probably closer to 3-4 hours of actual work when you take out coffee breaks, chatting with coworkers and other less productive activities. So, 5 hours of solid work for me is my goal each day, with some days managing a bit more and other days a bit less.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch when your time has value
This means that I’m acutely aware of what it means for me to spend some time out of the house. Three times a week, I go to the gym. Those days, it’s much more of a struggle to get those 5 hours in. I need to start working pretty much as soon as I get back from dropping Har, and I only give myself two hours away from my desk for the gym, including travel, exercise, and shower. It’s worth it to me to spend my time that way, though. I’m more productive when I’m able to be active as well, and it’s part of that whole, getting into shape thing.
But right now, that’s the main reason I’ll interrupt my workday. I’ve been invited to an event next week, and I’m keen to go. However, it appears that it will be an all-day blogger event, complete with cool activities and a free, fancy lunch. I will probably go, but it means I’ll literally miss out on a whole day of work. Sure, the lunch is free, but how much is it actually costing me to be away from my desk for the whole day?
I savor some moments more
This may seem like I’m poised to become a workaholic. You know, time is money and all that. But actually, the opposite is true. Figuring out that my time is worth something means that I want to make my time worthwhile. That’s not to say that every second needs to be spent making money, but I try to prioritize spending time doing things that I love rather than wasting it on being unhappy or in crappy situations.
When Harley is home from school, I try to take time to really connect with her. Sure, sometimes I’m frustrated and need to cook or want to relax myself, and just want her to sit quietly on her tablet or play with her toys. But other times I’m able to really interact with her, to spend time together and savor the moment. The same goes for time with Dean – sharing a glass of wine while we sit outside or watching a movie together. Even when I’m playing games, watching series or reading a book, I appreciate the time I’m able to spend on those activities.
I think it’s because I now see myself as truly off-the-clock. If I’m not being paid for my time, I’m not going to spend that time on work for other people. I’ll spend it reading to my kid, or chatting to a friend, or writing a blog post. I’ll do something that makes my heart happy.
I get frustrated more, too
But I also get irritated by things that waste my time a lot more. I love being active on social media, but I see how much it sucks my time away with nothingness. I also find myself looking for more ways to save time. We bought a robot vacuum, we’ve changed how we make breakfast, and a ton of other things to try and make the most of our time – I’ll explain more about those in future blog posts, I promise. But the core of it is that if my time has value, I get irritated when other people or things waste my most scarce resource.