Monday, February 11, 2019

Response to "The Psychological Trap of Freelancing" article

This is a response to the article titled "The Psychological Trap of Freelancing".

But once I started freelancing, things changed. I became hyperconscious of how much money I could (or should) charge for my time, and this made me unhappy and mean when my nonworking hours didn’t measure up to the same value.

In a typical salaried job, the pay is similar (if not same) for people working at the same position regardless of the quality of work output. If we had a choice and the system allowed it, we would seek a better raise and a better paycheck than the colleague who is all talk and no show. (That colleague who is good at maintaining a relationship with the manager than doing his job well.) Perceived value is so much more important than credentials in a typical job. In Freelancing, at least you have the autonomy to choose how much you get paid, what to work on and when.

New research explains the psychology behind my state of mind: People who attach dollar signs to their time — or “value time like money” — tend to be overwhelmingly less happy than those who don’t, because their nonworking hours suddenly seem less important. “Free” time gets tainted with guilt because there’s a cost associated with it.

On the contrary, your salaried job is likely to eat into your personal life and not pay you for it. This all happens in the name of "proactiveness", "go-getter attitude" etc How many times have you stretched at office to meet an arbitrary deadline ? I don't think a salaried job is better in the sense of time. [ side note : I wish more companies took up dateless delivery model. ]

Many Americans fall into this trap. A 2016 study found that 63 percent of respondents valued money over time, while the smaller percentage of people who valued time over money reported greater well-being than the larger group.

Much of American thinking is rooted in the "Time is money" quote by Benjamin Franklin which is pretty much an incorrect way of thinking about money in the first place. I sometimes wonder if that quote was taken out of context and propagated widely. Because time is always more valuable than money. Time is limited, and the worst part (or better ?) is that we don't know how much of time is left.

 “If we’re already in the time-is-money mindset, we can reframe our leisure time as something that enables us to be more productive in the future,”

This is a poor way to look at time off in my opinion. Just like you would like to work, you would also like to be away from work. Both are fundamental needs and balance each other out. If we reframe time off as something that will help us become more productive and hence we are redefining the motivation behind time off, then well we are still stuck on the "work" frame even while we are on "time away from work" frame. Though you are away from work, you are still pretty much part of the work. It's an irony to think of time off as something needed to be better at work. The motivation doesn't seem to align.

Most of what the author stated may be correct, but only when you "value time like money". If you value autonomy over your work, freelancing seems like a better option. You have better control over your time.

Disclosure : I don't freelance yet. But these points were just popping out to me as i have seen the not-so-great parts of being a salaried employee.