Why is freelance work so hard sometimes?

This morning I stumbled upon an article about ego management for Web workers–both telecommuters and freelancers. Here’s one of my favourite passages:

Ego management was a general problem throughout her interviews as solo workers struggled without the supportive structure of an office “that creates incentives whereby you work even if you’re not motivated. Your boss is sitting there. Your co-workers are around you. You just work.” Take away that structure and questions about the value and meaning of work start to bubble up more frequently.

Coming from a largely unstructured system (academia), and now moving on to freelancing, I could understand the problem that’s described in this article. Whereas academia (under tenure, of course) provides you with a stable salary and is based mostly on research production and level of student satisfaction, freelancing is much more result-driven. The amount of money you make is directly proportional to the effort put in the work. Crappy freelancers make crappy wages.

Even though I would have liked a better description of what constitutes “ego crises” in freelance work, I still found this article to be a thoughtful reflection on the reality of home workers. When you’re your own boss, you can either be too lenient or too harsh on yourself (not that real bosses are always impartial); it’s hard to see beyond the bias of our own ego.

Thanks to Jessica Stillman for an interesting post; I will certainly look deeper into my motivation and the worth of my work to sustain my desire to work freelance. Because sometimes it just seems so much easier to just go and find a job where I’m paid just for showing up…


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