Back in November, I told my intern Laura that I’d be furloughing her from the start of this month, January 2021. Barely three months into her 12-month internship. It’s probably the shittest I’ve felt about anything in my career. But it was a case of needs must.

October and November were unusually quiet. No work was coming in, no cash was flowing through and there was no sign of either of those things changing. The worst possible combination when you have an extra person’s wage to cover.

So I called it, as early as I possibly could so that Laura knew where she stood. I was gutted. Laura was gutted, but she understood and handled it better than I would have in her situation.

Then, the day after that conversation, in rolls the biggest piece of work I’ve had since going freelance. And a few days after that, even more work.

In the space of a week, Laura went from potentially seeing out the rest of her internship on furlough to working more hours than she previously had, with no plans for that to change anytime soon.

That’s the freelance life, isn’t it? More ups and downs than the Big Dipper. Feast or famine. Unpredictably unpredictable.

If you’re struggling right now, hang in there. You can’t always control what’s going to happen to you, but you can control how you react. Keep doing what you’ve got to do. Make the difficult decisions if you have to. But keep pushing forward. You’ll come through.  

Life as the intern of a freelance researcher

In amongst all of the furloughing, un-furloughing and increasing her workload, Laura has taken the time to answer some questions about her first few months in the role. No prizes for guessing which question is from my wife.  

Read: Q&A: The Intern Experience

The ol’ £5 off trick

It’s the second installment of More Than Solutions, the mockumentary-style blog series following a research consultant on his freelance journey.

Gavin is negotiating his first project. It’s a big one. He’s panicking. But he has a psychological pricing tactic up his sleeve.  

Read: Shaping the future. Part One.

Interesting stuff

The NHS Volunteer Responder Programme Survey

Since April 2020, thousands of people have volunteered to help the NHS in the battle against COVID-19. I think this survey shows that a) how important and brilliant volunteers are, and b) how rewarding giving up free time for a good cause can be.

I’m currently working on the evaluation of the scheme for Lancashire & Cumbria. It’s been a humbling project to be involved with.

Freelancer Magazine

Sophie Cross is doing so many brilliant things at the moment that it’s hard to keep up. One of these things is Freelancer Magazine – a proper business and lifestyle magazine for freelancers, printed and delivered through your letterbox. It’s one of those things that makes you wonder why no one has done it before. I suppose that’s because Sophie never thought of it before.

There’s a Kickstarter launching for the magazine in February, with the first issue following soon after. I’m looking forward to it.

The dematerialised office

“By 2030, your laptop may have been replaced by a digital workstation that allows for full virtual presence anywhere. That would mean that not only do your colleagues appear and sound totally real, but you could also use anything in the room, and everything would feel real to the touch and smell right. During a remote coffee break, someone might have brought a chocolate cake in that you could even smell and taste.”

That’s a paragraph from Ericsson’s vision on the future workplace. It all sounds a bit creepy to me, but it makes for interesting reading.

How to be resilient

This guide by Small Business Britain is a good insight into how small businesses have coped during the pandemic and what they think about the future. It also acts as a bit of a ‘how to’ guide for making the best of a bad situation. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Overall, people are hopeful and positive, which is nice to read.  

(Not an) App

Time-Block Planner

I’ve been using Cal Newport’s (the guy who wrote Deep Work) Time Block Planner to try to plan my days better and be a bit more productive. It’s working well so far. Although, it might not be for everyone.

I’ve found it sometimes goes out the window if you’re not realistic about how long things take or you have a ridiculous amount of work on.

If you’re a bit scatter-brained or easily distracted though, it’s worth a look.  

Freelance soundtrack

Someone in the YouTube comments for this song said it “feels like sitting alone at 5 am with the sun slowly rising and the smell of coffee.”

I think that’s a good description of it. See what you think.  

That’s it for another month. As always, you know where I am if you need me.

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Take it easy.


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