Structure Vs Flexibility

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about time management and productivity. Aaaaaawwwh yeah… sexy, I know. Now I’m a very organised person but only when I have to be. Working for myself means that I’m in charge of what needs to be done and then getting it done so it’s very useful to be organised. To-do lists, calendars and a clean inbox are very necessary! BUT just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean it’s my preferred way of being. I am much happier and excited about life when I’m being spontaneous and I have the freedom to make last minute decisions or change my mind. Heck, I’m going to New York soon for 2 weeks and I’ve no idea where I’m staying yet and I think I’ll just figure it out when I’m there and THAT EXCITES ME.

So since graduating from university over a year ago I’ve been living in London and freelancing. It’s basically like being a student again. I get to decide my own schedule. I can go out weeknights and not have to worry about getting into the office at 9am. I might be editing a video until 2am but I can go to the cinema in the middle of the day if I want to. What a dream. This has been my life for the last 14 months but recently my attitude towards it has changed. There are obviously some negatives to being freelance but the positives have always outweighed them until recently when they’ve started to get to me a bit.

I eat badly. First of all, buying food and cooking for one is wasteful and expensive. But with my job I have no structure to my days. I’m often out all the time and then the food I do buy goes off before I get round to eating it. I eat on the go when I’m inbetween things and I’ll eat out A LOT (that’s mainly due to the London social life being crazy busy). But I don’t have a routine for when I eat or what I eat and I’ve definitely put on weight (you can’t really tell and I still look great but my boobs always get bigger and so now my bras don’t fit and they’re giving me that double-boob-effect and I can’t afford to buy new bras and then what if I lose the weight and then I have bras that are too big for me…). At this point some of you will be like WTF!? but others will be like YAAASSSS GIRL I FEEL YOU ON A SPIRITUAL LEVEL.

Am I lazy? Because I don’t work a 9-5 and I don’t work shifts I have no idea how many hours a week I work. I’ve never actually counted. And what counts as work? With my job comes this really weird blurred line between business and pleasure. For example, here are things that I do that could be in either category:

  • Going to the cinema – technically a leisure activity but sometimes I get invited to premiers and press screenings. Also, I review films in my monthly favourites series.
  • Reading books, watching TV shows, watching documentaries – same as above.
  • Travelling – first of all I spend a lot of time on public transport going to meetings/events. Does this count!? Also, I go abroad. Sometimes it’s an actual holiday, sometimes it’s a working holiday. Either way, I make travel vlogs and I’ll always be updating Twitter and Instagram.
  • Getting drunk with my friends – I have a series called Drunk Advice. Is this not work?!
  • Writing blog posts – I don’t earn money from this but I enjoy writing and it’s good to have a portfolio.

Hmmm I hope I’m not coming across as ungrateful because it started to feel like that as I kept writing but you should know that I LOVE my job. It’s just very confusing sometimes. I hope I’m not lazy. I feel like I work really hard it’s just difficult to quantify how hard in terms of time. Part of me thinks if I had more structure in my life I could measure it and be more productive but then I love going to the cinema on my own at 1pm so…

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What’s your working style? Do you prefer structure or flexibility? Are you also a freelancer? Give me tips on how to run my life! Haha!

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9 thoughts on “Structure Vs Flexibility

  1. I run my own businesses and what you are describing above fits me perfectly too. I often feel like I am working 24/7 but then friends who have 9-5 jobs are always asking me if I ever do any real work?!!

    The only downside so far is the unpredictable nature and lack of cash flow, or to put it another way “actual spending money”….

    It’s a great life, I can’t imagine ever going back to 9-5, but I do need to give myself a break a bit more often and I need to make sure I have a good solid regular monthly income… Working on that, nearly there!!

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  2. I’m really bad at doing things in a day if I have zero structure there. I LOVE waking up early to go to campus and study, but my new timetable means I have Wednesday off, and twice now (in the two weeks since it started) I have done next to nothing those days. I don’t like it, and I’ll be in bed for AGES before I get out to do more nothing.

    As for the food issue, at least when it comes to buying and eating it, I could not feel it more. It was a HUGE problem for me last year, I’d buy too many vegetables and salad things and then not use them, because of time constraints, or just not having my shit together. I recommend trying to go veggie for a while though, as I have been doing that the last two weeks. Generally you save money when going OUT, and there are loads of quick, easy, and delicious meals you can make (like different pastas) without meat. That, I’ve found, is working okay so far. Buying ingredients I know I need for specific meals, even if I haven’t planned out said meals yet.

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  3. I definitely know the feeling. Being a full-time student, I rarely plan anything outside of my class schedule. As a result, everything feels spontaneous. I definitely need to add a little more structure back into my life, but I also need to add it to all the right places.

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  4. Hannah – hi! Jen here
    I’ve been completely freelance for well over 10 years now and recently a friend asked me if I’d ever consider ‘getting a real job’!!!!! Quite often us freelancers aren’t taken seriously yet I am always doing work, chasing work, doing more work at often quite obscure times. The pay off? Well. being my own boss is ace – deciding how to structure my day is great, choosing which work to say yes to I like too………….just wish someone would pay me holidays and sick pay . Possessing great organisation skills is the key!
    You go girl! Jen x

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  5. I’m still studying and I’m writing this comment at 1.30am, so… ^^ I do like to be flexible, but I also think that I lack the discipline to be efficient.
    When I finish uni I’ll be a teacher and idk about the UK, but here (Austria) you’re in classes for about 20 hours per week and the other 20 you’re supposed to prepare/follow up lessons, correct homework/tests, etc. on your own, mostly at home. I think that will work quite well for me, I’ll have a bit of structure but I’ll also be flexible. 🙂

    Cooking for one doesn’t have to be expensive or a waste, though. I usually cook 2-3 portions, eat one, maybe keep one for the next day and/or freeze the rest. Most dishes will be fine in the fridge for a few days, too. And if you don’t mind eating something without reheating it, you can always grab it before you leave. Works pretty well for me and saves me a lot of money ^^

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  6. Lazy? You probably work a lot harder than the nine-to-fivers because you’re your own boss, so go easy on yourself. I’ve always worked regular jobs because I can’t figure out how to support myself working from a home office. I’d love the flexibility and control, but I don’t do well without the security of knowing how I’ll pay the bills each month. Kudos to you for taking that risk … and succeeding!

    A little structure to eat healthier (and exercise, if necessary) would be a good thing. Also, twenty-somethings eventually all learn that sleep is a beautiful thing, and it’s rather necessary to maintaining good health. So planning for eight hours sleep around the same time each night becomes more of a priority as people approach thirty. It’s more important that your body knows when to expect sleep, rather than what that actual time is, to stay healthy. However, if you regularly go to bed after midnight, you may find you need to plan on longer sleep periods of nine to ten hours to fully recharge. This varies from person to person, but usually an earlier bedtime yields better sleep results, and later bed times require longer downtime to compensate for the inevitable interruptions that will happen (both external – people are already up while you’re still trying to sleep, and internal – your natural circadian rhythm may be adversely affected by regularly going to bed late) when trying to sleep during those hours.

    As a life-long single person, I’ve learned it’s actually cheaper to cook at home than eat out regularly, even if some of it goes to waste from spoilage now and then. I only buy a week’s worth of groceries at a time, and once I eat that, then I buy more. So if I do eat out some one week, I simply put off my grocery shopping until I’ve eaten what remains at home. Most fruits and veggies will last a week or longer, so it’s really only a matter of focusing on what you’ve got at home and finishing it in order to not waste food. Since you travel a lot, this may be more difficult for you to accomplish, but if you plan on eating out when you travel and eating at home when you’re in town, you may find yourself eating better overall.

    If you really want to quantify how much time you’re working, then buy a small spiral notebook that will fit in your purse and take it with you everywhere you go. Jot down start and end times throughout the day of various activities you engage in with a brief description of what you did, and at the end of each day or week (whichever is easier for you), tally those times to see what you’re actually doing and how long it’s taking you to do it. Assess what activities you would consider work-related because they contributed meaningfully to something you were paid for or will be paid for, or because it promotes your business in some way, and which ones fail to fall into the work category because they did not become a work product. Ex: Lunch with friends. If you vlog about it, brainstorm ideas for work projects during it, or do photo ops for your website, it becomes a work lunch. If you can think of no way it positively contributed to the work you do, then it was simply lunch with friends.

    At the end of the week, total all the hours spent productively to figure out how many hours you actually put towards your business. This number will vary from week to week, of course, but I would be surprised if your number of hours worked totaled less than 40 (a typical work week for the nine-to-fivers). Since you’re succeeding at your business, I imagine your total will be above 40 hours a week on average. If you decide to do this, please let us know your results! I think the results would be interesting, and would likely squash all those critical voices who question if you’re “really working” or not.

    Thanks for the interesting read!

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  7. I don’t think you’re lazy, and I don’t think working a certain amount of hours is the only way to measure productivity. I have super productive 8-hour work days and sometimes I have super lazy 8-hour work days. I enjoy the first one a lot more, but I get paid the same amount for both. Also, I sometimes lazily work on a paper for an entire day, with the occasional evening hyper-hour where I get almost as much done in way less time. It’s so hard to define ‘lazy’ and ‘productive’, but I think as long as you produce things AND enjoy it AND it contributes (because I think ‘enjoying something’ is not always a good enough reason), you’re not lazy. You will have lazy days and you will have productive days, but productivity is not a straight line.

    PS: All this is why I think I wouldn’t function in a freelance environment: sometimes I just need someone to tell me what to do. And although I even enjoy bringing work home every now and again, most of the time it’s just really satisfying to close the office door behind me and have the night off.

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