Smartphones make freelancing easier. They also make it very much more stressful. Apparently nearly half the freelance workforce relies on their personal phone for business use, which must make drawing the line between life and work tricky for many of us.
With all the best intentions to ignore everything once I’ve shut my computer down for the night, I still can’t seem to stop myself glancing at emails in the evening. I’ve been advised to remove Slack from my phone so that I’m not plagued by work demands in my free time. This is excellent advice, but I haven’t done it yet: much as I hate it, it can actually be really useful, if I’m out and about, to see what I need to deal with when I get home. But that pesky ‘ding’ after hours is like an itch demanding to be scratched. I can actually almost feel it physically, the little red icon of a notification taunting me every time I look at my phone. It’s not even that I feel I should be working when I see it – it’s more that I want to know what it is and why it’s creating an unsolicited to-do list for me.
Being able to see emails and messages when I’m watching a film or climbing a hill is not useful to me. It doesn’t make me more productive; it doesn’t change my working habits. So why can’t I stop myself from looking? Why can’t I bring myself to get rid of the Slack app and leave it on my desktop for office hours?
The smartphone is, in many ways, a great asset to the freelancer, but it’s also a curse. And, just as giving in to the urge to scratch an itch is nearly always a bad idea, giving in to the demands of the phone rarely leads to anything that you couldn’t have done better if you’d left it until the morning.