Many freelancers will nod their heads in agreement while reading entrepreneur Sharon Hayes' seven reasons why she has pretty much stopped doing unpaid work for the many people who request it from her every day.
3. It Zaps My Creative Juice
Each of us has only so many truly productive hours in a day. In my own case, I can get in about 5 solid productive hours on a typical day. It’s like a bank for me. Each day, I start off with this reserve of 5 hours. As I do work through the day, the reserve gets depleted. But it gets depleted at a faster rate when I have to shift gears more frequently. If I had a day where all I did was fulfill 5-10 minute requests, it would likely mean I’d be able to do maybe 20 of them in a day and absolutely nothing else productive. A complicated “simple” request might mean I need to do an hour of background thinking to figure out an answer, it might mean 20 minutes of research, it might mean contacting one or more people for input.
I think that a part of the issue is that some people see me active in social media and engaging, so they assume I have all this time available. Bantering with people about our respective days, the weather, the weekend or some current event topic does not require creative energy on my part. This is mental downtime. It doesn’t impact what I can get done in the day. Ask me to put on my thinking cap, even for a ‘simple’ question, and it’s a different story.
6. It Doesn’t Stop at One Request
I used to be much more generous with my time -- that is until I got to the point where it was detrimental to my own life and well-being. One of the things I discovered is that a significant percentage of the time when I helped someone out for free, they would come back -- often repeatedly -- for more free help. It has to end somewhere.