You need to be your own manager

What exactly are free agents free from? In sports, a free agent is someone free of allegiances to a particular team. In knight-errantry, a freelancer is somebody free of allegiances to a particular feudal estate or monarch. So what are free agents in the gig economy free from? In the gig economy, freedom is primarily freedom from being managed. It is a freedom that can seem like a curse to those who either enjoy being managed or are too inexperienced to have learned adequate self-management behaviors.

One of the joys of working for myself is that I don't have a boss or manager to report to. Yes, I still "report" to someone in some capacity, whether it's a program manager or team lead or client, but no one is getting into the nitty gritty of directing my work and doing periodic check-ins and growing my career or whatever it is managers do.

Unfortunately, the downsides of not having a manager is that you have to manage yourself!

Here are my bad work habits that a good manager might help mitigate:

  • Deep procrastination on work I don't want to do
  • Inconsistently communicating project updates
  • Working on cool ideas that the client doesn't really want
  • Not getting along with other contractors on the team
  • Staying stagnant in my professional skills

One of the ironies of the solo 1099 life is that it's possible you became a 1099 to rid yourself of a bad manager, but in the end you got a worse one: yourself!

I don't have any great tips on being a good manager for yourself. There are some professional habits that you could work on establishing (sending a weekly client update e-mail, blocking off time to work on side projects to gain new skills, etc.), but I agree with Venkatesh Rao, the author I quoted at the top is to choose projects that suit you.

The better part of managing yourself is simply working on the right sorts of gigs and saying no to the wrong sorts. In other words, instead of managing yourself, you seek out work where you don’t need as much management

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