Any people dreaming of going freelance, I always suggest to them that they get their feet wet out in the industry first, you learn such valuable things about team work and client relations that you don’t get in school and that will lay a good foundation for managing your business once you go freelance.
Freelancing can be really stressful, so some times it is good to reflect on some of the things I don’t miss about my old 9to5…
10. Answering the phone.
Yes, I still have to answer my phone here — but unlike the old 9to5, if I’m on deadline with a project or in the groove on something — I can let it go to voice mail and get back to it in a few minutes. Often the attitude in offices is that everything is urgent and that can be extremely unproductive because it allows things that aren’t important to stop you from focusing on the real task at hand. Client calls are always important to me, but taking my eyes off an urgent client project to talk to a telemarketer is not!
9. The Coffee situation.
My old job required employees who chose to partake in morning coffee to chip into a coffee fund. So for the $10.60 per month that was taken from my paycheck I got one 8oz cup of java each morning. Sure that is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than agrande whatchmakooky at Starbucks, but brewing a pot in my home office each day, I spend an average of $12 per month and consume 2 12oz cups each morning, plus extra cups for those random weekend workdays or burning the midnight oil.
…I suppose it may be equally fascinating that I consume twice the amount of coffee now, but that’s a whole other post. :)
8. Lunch time smells.
A former co-worker celebrated the weeks end with a microwavable fishstick lunch, which became known in the office as “Fish Fridays.”
7. The Dirty Dishes
My boss was the one least likely to wash her own dishes and the one most likely to complain to everyone else about dirty dishes in the sink. I eventually took to using a single dish each day which I washed after use and stashed at my desk just to avoid getting duped into doing the wayward sink dishes.
6. Redundant Work.
It’s pretty typical when you work with a group of people that you spend some time here and there helping others out. Weather your co-worker is trying to put a name to that mystery typeface or someone drops their exacto knife behind their desk, but the stuff I don’t miss is having to do things that were a big waste of my time (and therefor the companies money) because of other peoples lack of organization or laziness. Like what, you ask? Like having to email login information for various sites and services to the same person over and over because they didn’t bother to save the emails I sent them or were too lazy to look for it.
5. Your time is worthless.
Its true, freelancing is running a real business and this involves doing a lot of work that isn’t billable to anyone; invoicing, marketing, blogging. But working on a salary, the concept of your time being utterly worthless becomes more and more true. Sitting in an abandoned office at 9PM working on an upcoming deadline on an empty stomach and realizing that you will be rounding out a 60 hour week, meaning your hourly rate would work out to less than what you made at your mall job when you were 15.
Luckily, my former bosses were never able to commit to a regular schedule for staff meetings, but there were more of them than I care to remember. For some reason it was decided to be a good idea to have all departments of the company meet together and for each department to go over each of their projects. This resulted in time spent hearing about clients you didn’t know and had no involvement with and their projects for jobs you had no involvement with.
3. Old Computers
Now in the months before leaving my 9to5 I did finally convince the powers that be to invest in some machines built in this century. But I don’t think I would be exaggerating greatly if I said for a full year of my employ, I spent an average of 3 hours a week watching the spinny wheel churn away on my computer screen.
2. Sunshine is For the Birds
The first day in my home office, I almost shed a tear of joy when I realized that the light upon my face was actual sunlight.
I worked in a windowless office with a sub-par air conditioning system that allowed my bosses office to be a comfy 70 degrees in the summer months, but made my office space frosty enough I could’ve chilled a refreshing mint julip in my pencil cup. I’d often come into work on a sunny morning wearing typical summer time attire, then dawn my sweater, leggings and scarf before sitting down to work.
1. Skipping Meals
For some reason, it seems like most jobs that came through our office where rushed. Everything needed to be done yesterday, which meant there was no time for frivolous human needs like… eating. I’d typically run on stress and coffee till about 3pm, then realize I still didn’t have time to stop working and just power through till I could go home. Now, you would think this would make me skinny, but often led to late night binge eating, paired with my bodies seriously outta wack metabolism resulted in me going up 4 jean sizes in my 4 years on the job.
Can we also add bad music to this list? :)
HaHa, what kind of music are you speaking of? I can’t say i ever had any really bad experiences in that way — i was usually the one taking over the speakers in the office and probably driving everyone else nuts! :)
@liz: Oh man, I could tell you stories that would make your hair turn Pantone Cool Gray 11 C.
Liz, I don’t miss anything from the office. The mad rush to get everything done what what I feel most relieved about leaving behind. Working for someone means they’re at your mercy, and there are very few relaxed, confident people in the corporate world. If they were, they’d be in business for themselves ;)
well said Ryan!
Don’t forget knowing everyone’s business & hearing everyone’s phone calls… and ducking into the corridor to try to have a private conversation with your doctor/bank/hubby.
@allena – how about when someone in the office has been put on hold, so they put the phone on speaker and you have to listen to smooth jazz with them? Haha!
Fun post! It must have been hell for you working at an office ;-)
Liz, I love this post!! Ah, fond memories :)
A variant on #5 is the way that in most office jobs you are effectively paid for your time, not your work. If you’ve done everything that has been asked of you at 4pm on a sunny day, tough, because you still have to sit in front of that screen until 5.
Even with the dullest SEO keyword-orientated filler material, at least as a freelance you are being paid for producing something, not for being somewhere.
At an old job I actually used that exact argument to get myself a raise! the person in the position before me was always using overtime — whereas I always got things done between 9 and 5, so i pointed this out and said my hourly rate should be more, cause essentially I was giving the company more value for their money. They agreed.
So amazing, I think we have all had jobs like that! Fortunately, my 9-5 now is nothing like that! haha
Haha, your fish fridays cracked me up.
You should do a follow up, 10 things you miss (if you can think of that many things?)
Scary how close to the mark these are!!!
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