We recently launched the beta version of our free mobile app. The hundreds and hundreds of person hours it took us to get there consumed all our time in the runup. Like, all of it. And it’s not just about time per se, though time’s inelasticity and irreplaceability make that resource more than relevant. It’s about energy, too.
You know what this is like. Mental energy, physical energy—whatever brand of fuel that gets us moving. Like time, it’s a limited resource. And using your energy for things that are urgent vs. things that are important can have drastic consequences: burn-out.
Is your brain still milling at the grindstone when it ought to be present for other tasks? If your answer is yes, you might suffer from burn-out. That can drain you physically and mentally. And it’s not fun. In fact, it’s so not-fun (and so widespread) that writers at major financial publications, such as Forbes, have devoted entire editorial columns to pursuing the Platonic ideal of the ineffable “work-life balance.”
In a recent article, “The Evolving Definition Of Work-Life Balance,” writer Alan Kohll points out that Millenials and GenXers both seem to prioritize a work-lifestyle that meets the individual needs of each employee. This isn’t to say that each employee wants their workplace to revolve around them; rather, these employees advocate for jobs that allow them to prioritize their lives–families, hobbies, events (all those things we work FOR) first.
Obviously, there’s a trend here. One in four Americans describe themselves as “super stressed.” Yup. Check. (And by the way, who’s this fourth happy moron sipping banana Daiquiris on the beach, not a care in the Milky Way?)
Having experienced vicariously the toll long days of total dedication took on their Boomers parents and grandparents, GenXers and Millennials got wise to the kind of work-related stress that leads to obesity, addiction, and an early grave.
Is there some alternative?
Yes. The freelance lifestyle. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the majority of our users are freelance workers.
At first glance, it seems like there are tons of benefits to freelance/remote work. GenX and Millenials know this best. In a study recently undertaken by FreeTrain, 51% of American freelancers relayed that they would not take on a traditional job, no matter the amount of money offered to work onsite. Sounds extreme, no?
Well, they — you! — might have the right idea. Freelance work, especially the remote kind, means no daily commute. No big boss barking inane orders at you; no sneaky co-workers staring over your screen while you’re browsing Amazon’s toilet paper selection; no pesky smells from the kitchen as Cindy in HR* microwaves her turmeric-infused soft-boiled eggs for the second time today. More importantly, you might find yourself equally busy as — or more often, busier than — the average office drone. But your time is your own. The punch clock is not the boss of you.
But remote work comes with a whole new set of problems: the distinction between work life and home life becomes increasingly blurred.
When you’re working freelance, if you’re not careful, your bed can become your desk. Your kitchen becomes your drafting room. And your bathroom, your conference room. (Don’t ask us where we wrote this blog …)
Distractions, distractions, distractions.
This raises some interesting questions. Like, are you really knocking those Excel formulas out of the park while worrying about that huge pile of laundry to be done? Are you pondering whether the kids want pizza or pasta as you bang out your white papers from the kitchen table? Is RuPaul or Ryan Seacrest blathering in the background while you’re supposed to be completing whatever client presentation? Distractions at home can be just as powerful, if not MORE powerful, than distractions at traditional workplaces.
Next week, we’ll experiment with various tools to tether your focus and dramatically increase your productivity. Many are worth a try. So tune in next Monday. And in the meantime, check out focusatwill. We’re excited to learn what works for you!