Ask Sherry: Keeping freelance skills sharp in between contracts
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I’ve been enjoying your blog for about a year now. One of the things I find most interesting is how you alternate time working with time at home or traveling. Could you discuss how you keep your work skills sharp during your time off? All the best and happy holidays.
Thank you for reading!
Quick note — I actually don’t travel much now because of Baby Bun, and I am a temporary stay at home mother in between contracts. 😉
That’s actually a really good question about I keep your work skills sharp. Can I say that running and managing a toddler really makes you learn how to control your temper and learn lessons in patience & anger management?
My technical skills aren’t really out of date until at least 2-3 years being out of the business, and I am never without a contract for so long, so that part is not such a big deal.
That said, if you are asking about the length of time in between my contracts and you’re wondering how I stay up to date, I review over my past projects and notes every 3 to 6 months to refresh my memory, and to stay current, I keep in touch with other freelancers.
Honestly, I don’t sweat about it because even if I forget things, I know I have it written down somewhere, so I just go back to refer to an old project where I did X, Y and Z, and then study up on it to refresh my memory.
I also flip through reference books, and keep in touch with colleagues to answer or ask questions about the industry. That tends to keep my brain alive.
Every project is different, which is also why I don’t bother trying to keep on top of things all the time. My brain is a big Pensieve*. I pick out what I need when I need it because I’ll hear something or be asked a question and it’ll trigger a memory of WHERE I did it, and then I’ll just go look it up in my notes…
When my time is off, I really try to take the time off and avoid working on industry stuff. I need the mental break, and after a week or two back on the job, I tend to fall right back into it in a snap.
*Harry Potter reference to Dumbledore’s Memory Bowl.
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