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  1. 1

    Herman Lategan

    Hmmmm … thanks for this, I can identify. Sounds horribly familiar.

  2. 2

    Claire Butler

    Great article, Helen. Thanks for sharing your story and experience. I think I’m borderline workaholic but leaning more towards just being an over-achiever (as it sounds you are too!). I used to freelance and absolutely loved it – felt more in control of my workload and time, and found it easier to be more boundaried with my time. I made the return to full-time work about 18 months ago, and while I love my job, I really do miss the flexibility and control I had when I was a freelancer. My full-time job expects much more of me than freelancing ever did, because as a freelancer I could say no when I knew I was taking on too much. It’s so tricky not to become consumed by work in such a fast-paced, high demand work landscape these days! Hopefully I’ll be able to return to freelancing one day.

  3. 3


    A very honest and revealing piece, Helen. I still love my work as a freelance writer and editor, but I also try to practise saying no. Working hard for little return (whether monetary or stimulatory) isn’t the way to happiness. Well done for taking control.

  4. 4


    Thanks for your article, Helen, and most especially for sharing your personal story. As a fellow freelancer, I completely relate to what you’re saying, and to your story. And it’s difficult to be honest about our situation. As freelancers, we’re ‘not supposed to have free time’, and ‘should always be looking for new clients or working feverishly on the projects of our current clients’, and we feel guilty if we aren’t. Secretly, some people actually resent us, particularly for those ‘coffee meetings’ and ‘working lunches’, while they’re stuck behind a desk all day – going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark. And Heaven help them if they actually TAKE their lunch hour, or don’t arrive early and leave late. A week ago, I posted a picture on FB of my cats sitting on my desk while I worked, and when someone said, “Oh, what a lovely way to work”, my automatic reaction was to defend myself. “Yes, I’m very blessed. But I work very hard for that privilege,” I said. Makes me laugh, now. The fact is: what we do is tough. If we don’t work, we don’t eat. And as my landlady was very quick to point out, “rent is due on the first of the month and should be cleared and available on the 1st.” It was 13h00 on the 1st when I made and cleared the payment. Wow! Very late indeed! The truth is: we deserve our free time, and should schedule it in our diaries as we do everything else. We work extremely hard and it’s very stressful to wonder all the time if you’re going to make it at the end of the month. So, good for you for making and taking some personal time. After a month-long illness that should have cleared up sooner, but didn’t because I was pushing too hard, I have decided to do the same. I also hired a domestic helper instead of beating myself up for not keeping my home immaculate all the time. I’ve also scheduled gym time and going to the movies at least twice a month. I’m still battling to get my head around the idea of giving myself that time, expecting people to judge me and say, “Shouldn’t you be working?” But I’m doing my best to get used to the idea, and hopefully it will stick. Thanks again for your inspiring story, and I wish you all the best in sticking to your guns.

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