Going from long-term freelance to an agency was a hurdle our newest team member Cassie had to cross when she joined team TDP. She’s on the blog today, giving us a really personal account of how she adapted to the change – and we’re *thrilled* you did, Cassie!
I’ve been freelancing since being made redundant while on maternity leave (ugh!) with my eldest daughter [who is now 10 years old !!!]. The idea of moving to an in-house agency role was rather daunting. I’d had ten years of being my own boss, working my own hours, by myself and on my own terms. But this also came with ten years of chasing my own leads, covering all areas of my business by myself, wearing every possible business hat and being switched on 24/7. The time had come to be part of a team again … I was ready!
How have I coped with the jump from freelance to agency? I will admit there was a LOT of anxiety in the lead up! Of course, it helped that I already worked with the team in a contractor capacity and was familiar with a lot of the processes and the clients. But I wasn’t sure how well prepared I was to jump back into full-time work, especially with a family. So, I put my planning hat on and got myself prepared.
These are the things that were a must for me to feel prepared [and well-equipped] to jump right from freelance life back into in-house agency life.
Schedule your days
My daughters have a lot of after school activities so I’ve become used to having to schedule everything out to ensure everyone is where they are when they need to be, and things don’t get forgotten. I use my Google calendar to keep track of everything – if it’s not in there, it’s just not gonna happen!
The week before I started my full-time role with TDP I sat down and planned out the next week. Using a simple table in a Word Doc I planned out each day in half hour blocks. There’s blocks for driving the husband and girls to work/school, and then on to my office. Blocks for my morning work, lunch break, then afternoon work.
My work hours are broken up throughout the day to allow for the evening community management so this means I don’t simply block out 9-5 for work hours. There’s blocks for taking the girls to their afternoon activities, dinner and then the evening workload.
This allows me to keep track of everything happening I also colour code – this makes it easy for me to see who is where and when, and I can see where problems may arise … e.g. we get home most evenings from dancing lessons half an hour before I need to start work again, so the husband’s in charge of cooking dinner, most nights.
Meal planning is your best buddy!
I’m not unfamiliar with meal planning so it was easy to jump back into it. I spend a little time on the weekend looking at what is coming up the next week, chat with the family about meals they want and even do the grocery shopping online to be delivered Monday morning before we all leave. Knowing that our meals are all planned out for the week takes away so much anxiety from my week and I don’t waste time worrying about what we will be eating or when I need to do shopping!
Be easy on yourself, you’re still learning!
I tend to be a perfectionist and struggle with not knowing things, or making little mistakes as I’m learning. But I’ve spent time these first few weeks to remind myself that I’m still new to the role and the team are extremely understanding. It’s acceptable to make mistakes, to not know how to do things and to have to ask. I’ve kept front of mind that going from freelance to agency is [and was always going to be] a big transition, even for me who knew the TDP team rather well. Kindness to yourself is important!
Ask ALLLLL the questions
When you work for and by yourself, it’s necessary to troubleshoot everything yourself. One of my strongest skills is researching solutions. So, it is often second nature to jump over to the ol’ Google machine to work out how to do something, rather than asking the rest of the team. It took some adjustment to remember that I’m not alone now in my freelance bubble, and there are others that know the answers. Plus, there really are no silly questions – everything helps in making the team run smoothly and ensure that I’m learning and growing in my role.
Remember that you’re part of a team again
As a classic introvert, freelance life suited me well. I don’t do well with too much ‘people-ing’ and this was a concern for me, going into this role. However, as I’m still a remote worker even after going from freelance to agency life (I’m in Sydney and the rest of the team are in Melbourne) it’s been surprisingly manageable. I am much more comfortable with conversing through the written word anyway, so I love Slack as a communication channel. But it’s important to remember that I am part of a team and that others obviously have their own struggles, idiosyncrasies and personal lives, too. With the current situation I have to be extra mindful – I am extremely lucky to be in Sydney where life has resumed (relatively) to normal, while the team in Melbourne are still experiencing [very strict] lockdown. I’ll admit to a few little slip ups where I haven’t been as mindful as possible of what the others are currently experiencing, so I’ve made sure to have it top of my mind before sending any messages. It’s just one of those small things that I need to be mindful of now, since becoming part of a team again.
Plan to be exhausted
I knew it was going to be exhausting but… woah! After the first day of meetings, training, inductions, etc. I simply went home and went to bed. My mind was overwhelmed, and I was just tired to the bone. I knew I would be tired at the end of the first week so nothing was planned and we took it easy. When freelancing and running your own business, you are run off your feet and working a LOT but it’s easy to forget that you are setting your own hours. You can adjust when you’re feeling tired, you can procrastinate on days that you are just not up to it (but you’ll pay for it later!) and take days off when it’s needed. So the adjustment to full-time hours and full-time tasks, with proper deadlines and people relying on you can take a little longer.
Moving from freelancing to an agency with a team like The Digital Picnic
Above all, the biggest thing that has made the adjustment to full-time life easy, is the team that I am now part of. The culture at TDP is so supportive and they have done all that they can to welcome me and make the adjustment as easy as possible. I truly believe that I couldn’t have had as an amazing experience at any other company and can’t express how #blessed I feel to have been given the opportunity to become a full time Picnicer!
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