Thursday, March 8, 2012

Freelancing Around Asperger's

Use waiting room time wisely.
Photo by Ambro

I got a nice shout-out today over on the Urban Muse's website, in an article entitled Freelancing Around Doctor and Dentist Appointments.  The question raised was:  How do you do it?

The problem of multiple doctor appointments was one of the main reasons I turned to freelancing in the first place.  As nice as the security of a 9 to 5 (okay, 7 to 4, yuck) job is, it's practically impossible to weave it around a schedule involving multiple appointments every week.  As much as I tried to keep all the appointments on a single day, unexpected situations that were beyond my control continued to crop up.  To make matters worse, when all my sick time was being used to stay on top of the situation with my son, it really left us in the lurch when my daughter or I would get sick.

We did our best for as long as we could, alternating sick leave between me and my husband, riding the edge of the FMLA line.  But it simply couldn't last.  When my son required inpatient hospitalization, that was the last straw.  It occurred to me, as I was leaving work to try and make rounds at Children's, that this wasn't working anymore.  I was tired of arguing with my boss, I was tired of meeting with HR to discuss "my attendance problem," I was tired of worrying about the phone calls from school.  I was just plain tired.

At that point, I took a month of unpaid leave to figure out if we could make it if I left work.  I had already been dabbling in freelancing; maybe now was the time to see if it could really work.  Things are tight, but building fast, so I have a lot of hope.  We certainly aren't rich, but we are slowly digging ourselves out of a hole.  And I can work around the crazy appointment schedule, free to drop what I am doing to go put out any fire that might arise.  Not to mention, I've been able to use my experiences as fodder for writing, and I've discovered that I have a powerful voice in the autism/Asperger's niche.

Here's all the ways I work around the appointments:

  • As mentioned in the post by the Urban Muse, I bring my netbook with me whenever possible to get work done, especially if it's going to be an especially long or tedious appointment.
  • I use the downtime to check emails, read other blogs, tweet... things that are easy to do from my phone and that get lost in the shuffle of writing sometimes.
  • I can make the appointment work for me too.  My son's doctors and therapists are a wealth of knowledge and are perfect interview subjects.  I discuss potential ideas and articles (briefly) and ask if they would be willing to schedule an interview later.
  • Sometimes it's nice to just kick back and read a bit on my Kindle app. I don't get much time to just enjoy a book and the waiting room can be the perfect place to recharge.
What's your biggest time challenge when it comes to getting the work done?


  1. For me, it's the interviews. I can do the actual writing on weekends or in the evenings, sitting in the doctor's office or at a coffee shop, but I need quiet space for phone interviews and I can't generally do them after hours unless it's someone in a different time zone. I've built up a good stable of sources I can call on, so it's just a matter of scheduling. That's why putting out feelers for sources is one the first things I do when I get a new assignment.

    1. Absolutely. When I take on a project, the very first thing I do is to consider my interview sources. If I'm querying a project, I check ahead of time to see if my interview subjects are available and interested. Like you, I have a nice, full stable of sources who are interested and willing. I prefer to schedule interviews when I can meet the subject at their office or at a neutral ground. I just find that works best for me.

      Thanks for reading!