I’ve stated many times before that one of the appeals to running a freelance writing business is that I am able to enjoy a more flexible schedule. With a little bit of forethought and careful planning, it is possible to visit the zoo on a weekday while everyone else is grinding away at a regular workday. It’s not that I skip out on work; it just means that the “work” part of my week has been rearranged to accommodate such leisure activities.
This added flexibility, however, can also act as a double-edged sword. Because freelancers and other online entrepreneurs can work at any hour of the day, they can oftentimes feel compelled to work at every hour of the day. This includes what we would traditionally refer to as lunch hour.
If you happen to hold a conventional job as a conventional employee, you’ll be given some time in the middle of the day to enjoy your lunch. During those 60 minutes, you can walk away from the office and let work-related worries sit on the back-burner as you munch on that salad and sip on your iced tea. You typically aren’t paid for that time, so the hour belongs wholly to you.
For the freelancer working at home, this can be quite the huge challenge. In effect, you can choose between time and money, because it is very possible to work through your lunch hour. After taking those couple of minutes to throw together a sandwich and pour out a glass of cola, you head right back to your home office and continue to bash away at that keyboard to produce more articles for your clients. You take bites between paragraphs and sips between page breaks. Is this the healthiest and best way to go about it? Are you really making more money by doing this?
In my opinion, freelancers need that time in the middle of the day to let work slide off to the side as well. I usually eat my lunch at home (that saves money and time), but I try to make it a point to not even glance at the computer during what I consider to be my lunch break. I shut off the monitor, trying my best to resist the urges of checking email and updating my Twitter. The brain needs a reprieve too; it’s just not reasonable to assume that you can be productive 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You need rest. You need those batteries to recharge.
Decide on the length of your lunch break and stick with it. During those thirty to sixty minutes, try to cast the world of work off to the side. There may be times when I’ll take a longer lunch and that’s okay too. During that time, I try my best not to think about work. This way, when I come back to my desk, satiated from my meal, I can approach my computer with renewed energy, new ideas, and a fresh mind. I encourage you to do the same.