Freedom of Work

Freedom of Work

This is the third of “4 Freedoms of Team Espinoza” or a list of freedoms that my family uses to make decisions. The first was Freedom of Schedule, and the second was Freedom of Location.

I’ve tried a few kinds of remote work in my journey to the work I currently do. I’ve wanted to work from home (or remotely) since getting my first DSL line installed in the ’90’s. One job I tried was working for Google as a contractor. My wife and I wanted to earn some extra money on top of our day jobs so we applied for a testing project at Google. The requirements were simply to have a high speed internet connection, a modern computer, and time to do the work.

The work was simple: we would visit a list of web pages, determine if the content of the page was related to a certain keyword and return our findings. We were validating search results manually. We were also to record other stats like if the page was spammy or offensive in any way.

I was paid $10 / hr to surf the web. You’d think this would be a good side job, but I quickly began to loathe logging time. Even though I could do the work from anywhere with an internet connection and the schedule was open I had no interest in the work. After a while the tasks were just a series of mundane actions assigned by someone else.

I grew tired of not having any say in the tasks I did. What I was doing felt like a waste of time and nobody likes wasting time. The lesson I learned from the Google gig is that doing uninteresting work is a waste of my time no matter how much I’m getting paid to do it.

Freedom to say No to uninteresting work

Doing uninteresting work has an impact on my overall happiness and this directly affects my family. When choosing what work I’ll do I now take into account how much flexibility of choice I’ll have. This would be tricky working for a company since my tasks would be assigned by someone else and the focus would need to line up with the company’s goals instead of my own.

Freelancing is a higher level of freedom since I can accept or decline work on a project by project basis, but it’s still working on someone else’s ideas. Selling my own products is the ultimate level of freedom since I’m working on my own ideas and my focus is to make them useful to other people.

Freedom to say Yes to interesting work

Sometimes interesting work comes with a price. That price is the reality of not get paid immediately for your work. Projects with a long-play focus won’t get you a paycheck by Friday, but may be something that pays off huge after 6 or 12 months.  When I create a premium plugin I may not get any significant income for several months. These kinds of projects require time and energy, and when you’re spending your time on other people’s ideas these are the projects that get put on hold.

When making choices about work I now take into account the ability to avoid uninteresting work and if I will have time and energy left to work on my side projects with long-play focus.

Photo Credit: intagliofirenze via Compfight cc