It’s a lifestyle that requires constant hustle. There’s no time to rest. Or so we tell ourselves.
I still feel the pressure of this always-on industry. I feel guilty for the time spent away from my desk. Maybe I’ll miss something important? What if something breaks?
But I have begun to challenge this notion. Does a pants-on-fire approach to business equal success? Not if you want a life outside of work.
Hard work is still part of the equation. But perhaps a freelancer’s greatest asset is time. Here’s why it matters more than you might think.
Burnout for the Sake of Money?
The narrative of working longer hours is prevalent in this industry. Somehow, being tied to a computer from sunup to sundown will lead to leveling up. Freelancers may even see it as a necessity.
The people that say “work smarter, not harder” are on to something. Working day and night may allow us to finish more tasks. But it doesn’t provide long-term value.
The practice is more likely to result in burnout. That will likely offset any financial gains. Plus, your creative flow can take a serious hit.
In time it can lead to getting less done. A struggle to design or write code means less efficiency. Therefore, you’re expending more energy to accomplish less.
And we can’t forget about quality. We’re more apt to produce lower-quality results when tired. That can have a lasting impact on your career.
Yes, we can work long hours to boost income. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil. But it comes with its share of risks.
That’s why taking time off is vital. Your body and mind need to recover and refresh.
You Need Time to Learn and Experiment
Learning is the key to long-term success. Web design and development change rapidly. Best practices evolve. And new technologies like AI impact the way we work.
Falling behind is to your detriment. It affects efficiency and the services you offer to clients. And it also limits your earnings potential.
But continuing education has a few challenges. It’s possible to learn on the fly during a project. And you may grasp some aspects of how technology works. Yet it’s also possible to miss some key fundamentals.
On the other hand, taking a course provides a holistic view. You’ll get a chance to understand how something works. Not to mention use cases of when it makes sense to implement.
But some technologies won’t fit into your current projects. That’s why starting a side project is desirable. You’ll have the freedom to experiment. It’s often through this process that we gain valuable experience. We can build and break things in a low-stakes environment.
Learning a new skill takes time. A deeper understanding requires commitment. That’s why attempting to learn in a high-pressure situation isn’t ideal. You won’t have enough space to focus on the details.
Taking a step back for self-improvement is a better option.
Be Deliberate about How You Use Time
It seems like time is one thing that freelance web designers need most. In an ever-changing field, we need time to learn and grow. And we also need time to stay on top of everyday tasks.
The industry narrative tells us to hustle. But we do so at the cost of our well-being. It impacts us personally and professionally.
At the same time, we don’t have the luxury of sitting still. We have bills to pay, after all. And those projects won’t get done by themselves. Even AI can’t save us from that just yet.
Finding a balance is difficult. I still struggle with it. But maybe having the importance of balance in our minds is a good first step.
We can use that knowledge to be more deliberate. We can give ourselves more opportunities to breathe.
Using time wisely fuels creativity and innovation. That’s a better path to success than working our fingers to the bone.