I was born in 1973. Which means I’ve been part of that lucky and unique generation that has lived through the transition from analogue to digital. I remember telephone operators. I remember strips of 4 flashbulbs on 110 film cameras that actually “popped” when they fired. I remember talking to girls on a rotary phone twisty cable that ran all the way from the kitchen to my upstairs bedroom door (and then under it).
A different world
I spent countless hours trying to wind lengths of wrinkled up cassette tape back into its case with a pencil. In high school, I even had a pager, a concept so absurd that I still can’t believe it was part of my formative years. Imagine, something that allows others to beep you so that you then have to drop whatever it is you’re doing, find a pay telephone (um, pay telephone?) so that you can call them back.
The world was still a big place and I was just a dot, unconnected to any of the other dots out there.
You want to know why it’s “overrated time off”?
No such thing as ‘time off’
Not so anymore. Nowadays your average 10 year old is more connected than every kid in my high school graduating class of 1993 combined. He or she now holds more computing power in the palm of their hand than the NASA space program of 1969 and can find or send anything to anyone, anywhere, anytime. They are connected. We’re all so very connected.
Which brings me to the topic of this article. As a freelance copywriter I, more than most, need to be connected in order to survive. I am open twenty-four-seven, three hundred and sixty five days of the year. I am LinkedIn. I am facebooked. I am tumblr’ed up. Checking email is like breathing. If I don’t check it, I’d probably die. I work from wherever I am on the planet, whether I’m on holiday or not.
And strangely, I don’t actually consider any of this a bad thing.
Just because I never say no doesn’t mean I don’t live a good life. There’s a reason why Americans are so big on the idea of freedom. It matters. You don’t know it until you really taste it, but it really does mean a lot. As an ideas person I don’t need much else other than the ability to type and a 3G (um, 4G?) connection. Skype is my boardroom and my productivity is measured in pdf, jpeg and mpeg attachments. I am free from the confines of cubicle life.
All the world’s my office
What I’ve realised the longer I’ve done this is that people who claim that they work all the time… actually don’t. They just think they do. Me? I am open to the idea of work, anytime. Slightly different. But better. I don’t mind working from a hotel room in Singapore, even though I’m en route to a Thai beach holiday resort. I don’t mind writing creative rationales from a friend’s apartment in Bondi, for my client back in the UK. I don’t mind staying up ‘til 3am for a video chat with a producer back in Toronto, even though I’m in Amsterdam and really need some sleep. To me, all of this work isn’t really work. It’s freedom.
What you learn as a creative freelancer is that staying connected to everything and everyone can give you a lot of options when it comes to living a more rewarding life. As a professional nomad, you see more, experience more and discover more. But without the same ‘ol same ‘ol routine of getting up and going to the same place. You feel lucky that people need your help even though you may never actually meet them. You work harder on the stuff that comes your way because ultimately, it’s your ticket to doing more of what you love. Sometimes that even includes doing more work.
Who needs time off?
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Great post Morgan! I had a conference call on a campsite in Bude last week. Slotted in nicely between a sausage sandwich and a mug of tea. Then I went to the beach…
Being a freelance writer you’ll be able to set your hours, adjust your schedule, and, in case you deal with your time very well, you could have a lot of time to devote with friends and family. Yet it comes with more responsibilities.