Mondays Are Super Hard When You’re a Freelancer

Photo credit: Ferdinand Stöhr

Once upon a time, I worked at an agency. Mondays were great. I woke up invigorated every work week, ready to take on the challenges. I loved my team, respected my boss, and did great work for our clients.

Then that job went away and I became a full-time freelancer, er, solopreneur. Now Mondays are a different story entirely.

When you’re freelancing, your day is completely different than when you’re working for an employer. If you’re like me, you work from home at least most of the time. You do work for a variety of different agencies and/or direct clients. You try—as best you can—to balance your work obligations with family ones. And you don’t always succeed.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping, so I made a huge mistake. I checked my email at 4:30 in the morning. I was greeted with a client wondering why I had the audacity to charge them for the time I have spent and will continue to spend addressing an emergency situation with their site. That’s always a positive (not) way to start your work week (and something I never had to deal with working for an agency).

Later this afternoon, I’m going to have to take most of the afternoon off to take the kids to the dentist and follow that up by an emergency PTA meeting. Part of the reason for being a freelancer is having the flexibility to deal with these kinds of situations, but what is problematic is how the rest of my family just expects me to be able to deal with these situations, all the time. Never mind that I’m working on a project where I have 10 tickets that need to be done this week (with more tickets to come, no doubt). I’m home all the time. I don’t have a “boss” to answer to when I need to take off early in the day.

No, I just have deadlines, and those deadlines don’t care that my kids are due for their teeth cleanings.

Mondays are an ever-present reminder that freelancers don’t get the respect—either at home or from other professionals—that agencies and other companies do. Yeah, we try to keep set schedules, as all the “How to Be a Freelancer” advice sites and books tell us to do, but usually our families haven’t read the same advice. And it’s impossible to “be on the program” without buy-in from everyone else in your life.

Like the other mom in the carpool who forgot you go to the client site on Tuesdays and asks you to pick up the kids from the bus when it’s not your turn. Like the PTA meeting that’s called for 5:30 when you already have a call with a West Coast client scheduled. Or the kid who never knocks on your door and barges in when you’re on a video call. (I have such empathy for this guy.)

It’s also harder to face Mondays when you know the majority of your non-familial interactions for the next five days will consist of text-based messages over a chat program. Context is lost. Social chat is minimal to none (not that this is always a bad thing, but sometimes it’s nice to shoot the breeze with people you’re not related to by blood or marriage). And it’s easy to feel socially isolated to the point of being a shut-in when you don’t get to see the faces of the people you’re working with.

The above tweet is from a long time ago. These days, Mondays are so much harder. Harder to feel energized. Harder to feel passionate about what I do. Harder to face the grind of another week. Feel the same way? Share your thoughts in the comments.