Lessons Learned After 103 Days of Funemployment
Updated: Nov 17, 2019
You may have seen on the social medias that I'm back at work! I decided to go back to big PR agency life after much consideration. It was actually a pretty emotional decision but financially, I just couldn't stay out on my own. So now that I've moved into my next phase, I wanted to reflect a bit on what I learned while I was funemployed (well, I was also freelancing), and what I'm going to do differently in my next corporate chapter.
My Body Clock is Weird AF One of the reasons I've probably disliked office jobs so much is because my body clock is basically the exact opposite of office hours. When I wasn't working, I basically let my body do whatever it felt like doing. I went to bed when I was tired, and usually didn't set an alarm to wake up. That led to sleeping hours of something like 3 am - 9 am. Then I'd wake up for a bit, do some things, and take a nap. These hours are 0% conducive to a typical 9-to-5. This became abundantly clear last week, which was the first week I was back to my office-life schedule. I gave myself no transition time, no days practicing going bed early and waking up early. It was just Sunday night and me suddenly going to bed at 11, and setting my alarm for 7 am. That resulted in me waking up every 2 hours, until finally I just couldn't get back to sleep around 5 am. Over the course of the week it got a little better, but I can definitely tell my body isn't happy with the whiplash I've put it through. To be honest, it probably won't ever work for me the way I want it to, since I now realize my internal clock is pretty nontraditional.
When it Comes to Work, I'm Moody AF I read an article recently about how makers and creators need large windows of time to work because they have to be able to follow the flow of their creativity and focus on projects for long, uninterrupted periods of time. I discovered this is absolutely the case for me. I might have a project to complete and try to start working on it at noon, but not really be able to get into until 5 pm, and then never look up again until I finish at 10 pm. I work best when I'm "in the mood." I have to be able to go with my waves and work in bursts. Once again, this isn't the best for my current work environment, but I will find small ways to keep people from interrupting my focus, like blocking my calendar from meetings. I'll also succumb to the fact that sometimes I'm just not going to be productive during office hours, and it may require me to stay later.
I'm Actually Disciplined AF Even though I sometimes work at odd hours or have some weird work habits, I have a remarkable amount of discipline. As a freelancer it could be easy to slack off because no one is forcing me to do anything, but I was very steadfast in my commitment to do the best work and meet all deadlines, maybe even more so because I knew it was all up to me.
Writing is Fun AF Focusing on this blog has been so much fun. People are actually reading it, and I enjoy writing it. In the past I've wanted to do this but found it hard to balance with work because I tended to pour my all my energy into the job. Moving forward I will definitely find ways to reserve energy for my writing and not let it slip to the back burner.
I'm Restless as AF I find it really hard to truly rest. Even if I'm physically not moving, my mind is racing and I aways feeling like I should be busy. I never thought I was like that, but during a time that should have been a little more restful I found that I didn't rest as much as I thought I would. I know I need to keep myself from burning out, so moving forward I want to make one day a week truly a Sabbath day. Or even if not a whole day, at least one day a week after work will be like a Sabbath evening. No chores, no errands, no work, no effort of any kind. Even writing that felt kind of weird, which is all the more proof that I need to make it happen.
Getting Paid as a Freelancer is Hard AF Getting paid as a freelancer is garbage. Utter. And complete. GARBAGE. I thought I was winning because I had a signed contract to freelance less than two weeks after quitting my job. I asked for a percentage of the payment upfront and they said sure no problem. The process was so smooth I was shocked. I thought surely there wouldn't be any hiccups. Then it took me almost a month to get that upfront payment for a contract that was only five weeks long. It took another almost two months to get the balance of what I was owed, and only after a fair bit of stalking. There were things I loved about freelancing, but I ever do it again I have to have enough saved up to insulate myself against the cash flow issues that come with freelancing. My mentor was right -- I need to push for a full year of savings. Shit, at least 9 months.
My Attitude is Important AF This is about to be corny but here goes -- I have to have the right attitude, no matter which direction I go. As I head back to PR agency life, I can't be the exact same person I was at my last agency. Before, I was setting myself up for burnout. Now, I need to establish better boundaries. I also need to learn from my in-house experience. There, I was expecting the job to be a silver bullet that would correct of all the wrongs I experienced at my previous agency. Now, I need to be real with myself about the fact that this won't be perfect, even if it is better. And most importantly I need to be really clear with myself about my vision for my future. What exactly do I want to learn, and accomplish, and get out of this experience? How will I even know it was a "good" experience?
It's been a fun ride these last few months and the lessons have been invaluable. Here's hoping I'm not back in a year with another post about quitting my job.