I will always champion the individual who wants to invest in their personal creativity and work for themselves. (Because being your own boss rocks) The freedom of setting your own life is – well, FREEING. No time clocks or restrictions on when you can and can’t work. That’s a liberating feeling, especially if you come from a corporate setting where you feel like you move through a cattle chute every day. But even freelancers need to adopt the quiet quitting mentality. Otherwise, you might as well sign yourself up for a padded cubicle.
The Danger of Hustle Culture
People started to rebel against the whole “hustle culture” ideal in recent years as everyone discovered the joys of working from home. Running around and attempting to juggle an insane schedule stuffed to the gills with projects, deadlines, and responsibilities lost its appeal. Mostly because people were DYING in the attempt.
The human body can only handle so much stress before it breaks down. And if you don’t take appropriate breaks and provide it with sufficient rest periods, it throws in the towel. You can suffer injuries due to a distracted brain or end up in the hospital with a major coronary.
Health being a slight priority for the average human, a movement of rest, relaxation, and temperance surged. People were encouraged to take mental health days, vacations, and time away from their desks. In other words, behave like a rational individual.
The constant rushing around with a caffeine IV fell out of favor. And the pandemic hit, introducing the work-from-home concept to thousands of people who no longer needed to fight with traffic, public transportation, and fast food lines as part of their regular schedule. (To say nothing of the constant presence of co-workers and managers hanging over their shoulders) The room to breathe AND accomplish a list of tasks increased proficiency without carving out additional chunks from the day.
Suddenly, it made more sense to establish a work-life balance.
At least, it was SUPPOSED to.
Enter Quiet Quitting
The upper echelon of certain companies disliked losing their oversight. And murmurs of a rebellion against returning to the office caused them to tighten their fingers around HR lists. They wanted people to report to the same insanity they had previously.
If they didn’t, it meant a negative behavior: “quiet quitting.”
And the term SOUNDS terrible. (I misunderstood when I first started seeing it appear in the feeds on LinkedIn) Because it’s designed to inflame the guilty consciences of workers. But what it ACTUALLY represents is someone who:
- Doesn’t take work home with them
- Only responds to messages/emails within working hours
- Takes their breaks appropriately
- Observes a strict balance between their work life and home life
In short? It’s that healthy dynamic people were working towards when they abandoned hustle culture, dressed up in a negative connotation. Because NOT killing yourself at work every day doesn’t benefit a manager or client.
And certain high-level positions of authority HATE that.
Quiet Quitting as a Freelancer
Sounds like a problem for someone with an average 9-5, right? Try again. Freelance writers need to observe quiet quitting, too – if they want to build a healthy business at any rate.
While you aren’t beholden to a manager or supervisor, you can still do plenty of unhealthy damage if you don’t establish careful boundaries for yourself. And they align with those “negative” practices of separating your downtime from your work.
For instance: How often do you respond to your emails? Hell, how often do you scramble to CHECK your email throughout the day? Do you grab your phone or the tab on your screen as soon as the indicator light changes? Or are you comfortable letting it sit while you finish what you’re working on?
Do you check messages after your “office hours?” (Do you ever HAVE office hours?) Can you restrain yourself from responding? Are your clients aware of when you’re willing to work and when they need to wait for you to get “back into the office?”
When you take time off, do you stay AWAY? Or are you prone to check in?
These are those quiet quitting habits everyone’s talking about. And they can set you up for a healthy relationship with your clients. Or they can turn you into a slave to your work every bit as much as if you were punching into a time clock.
The “us versus them” mentality is a dangerous one. Because it makes it sound like you’re either willing to work or you’re a complete bum.
And that ISN’T the case.
But you need to care about YOU when you work – whatever you do. Otherwise, you’re going to pay with your health down the road.
I have an absurd work ethic. (Not bragging; this is a genuine fact – and I blame my parents) I’ve always gone the extra mile and put in as much as possible in whatever I’ve done. That means no downtime or breaks. It’s why employers and clients love me. I jump to get things done without a second thought – and usually without anyone asking.
And I’ve carved out chunks of my health and well-being as a result.
Could I pick up an extra shift because someone called out at the last minute (again)? Of course.
Well, all of those shifts piled up. Suddenly, I wasn’t getting ANY rest. And then my body flared. Want to guess how much fun it is to work six days in a row as your bones melt?
When I switched to my freelancing career, I couldn’t shake the habit; I was determined to prove myself a competent writer. So I jumped to respond to every email the second it hit my Inbox. Didn’t matter if it was on the weekend or in the late hours of the night. I rushed to my computer to take care of things. (Never mind different time zones or the fact that my CLIENTS weren’t working at those times)
Oh, look – lost sleep.
It took A LOT of talking with my writing mentors to realize I was being stupid and hurting ME. This was MY business, and I was in charge – not anyone else. Either I set those limits around my work, or I might as well reserve my hospital bed now.
Start Quiet Quitting NOW
Honestly, I’m still a work in progress.
There are times my husband has to take away my phone. Or he’ll steer me away from the computer. (He’s even MADE me take a nap or walk in the middle of the day when I’ve had a rough stretch of days) The hard wiring from my past is taking a LONG time to reprogram.
And that’s why I suggest you start NOW if you don’t already practice a healthy work-life balance.
Mark your calendar with the days you plan to take off at the beginning of the year – and then remain firm on those decisions. (You got it – tell your clients ahead of time. And remind them if they forget)
Plan so you don’t feel stressed when you have upcoming deadlines. (I wrote this post ahead of time and scheduled it to drop)
Turn off your email notifications while you’re working. (Those messages won’t go anywhere) And don’t look at your phone when you’re off the clock.
Take care of YOU so your business can thrive.
And don’t listen to the nonsense about hurting corporations or thought development or any of that rot. If you’re DEAD, you can’t help anything.