Why freelancers are like Stone Age workers

Are you stressed by the demands on your time, and the lack of freedom that work gives you? Find out why going freelance can help liberate you – just like Stone Age workers!

Anne Gage explains why Stone Age men and women were more psychologically healthy than many of us today, and how you can free yourself from some of the constraints of modern life by going freelance.

Who is better off – Stone Age man or us?

When you think back to the Stone Age, what do you see? A harsh and brutal age, in which our ancestors struggled against the elements, predators and each other in a constant battle for survival?

Maybe. But compare it to the world we live in today. Which people – stone age men and women or us – so you think are better off in terms of quality of life?

Most people today would vote unquestioningly for themselves (who wants to live in a draughty cage and wash manky furs by hand?). However, you may be surprised to learn that there’s a considerable amount of evidence to suggest that, despite the hardships of their lives, our ancestors were on average a lot happier than we are today.

Stone Age man didn’t have a demanding boss

You see, while things like increased mortality and illness may have affected their overall happiness, they were much better psychologically equipped to deal with these tragedies. And as a result, their lives were apparently generally happier than many of ours now. 

So why is that? One reason for this may have been the nature of their work – and more importantly, the resulting freedom of their time, and the lack of complex stresses.

Unlike us, Stone Age men and women didn’t have a demanding boss, 24/7 emails and a stressful commute to work. They also didn’t have rigidly set work hours that they were obliged to stick to, despite how they were feeling.

We give up control of our most valuable resource

Today we tend to mark our achievements and lifestyles by the amount of money we have. And in many ways, that’s quite understandable. It’s almost impossible to live today without money, and the more we have, the more we can improve our standard of living if we wish.

However, all too often we give up control of our most valuable resource – time – in order to make more money. And surrendering a precious natural resource like time for an artificial human construct (money) doesn’t really make sense to our subconscious. Especially when we use the extra money we make to spend on activities and products that alleviate the stress that comes from giving up our time!

Our brain prefers a more ad-hoc lifestyle

As a result, we struggle to reconcile our lack of control over how we spend our time with our body and brain’s demands for the kind of ad-hoc sleeping, eating, socialising, relaxing, and activity it has evolved to enjoy.

The more regimented modern lifestyle imposed by the way we work today is unnatural, and creates anxiety – and sometimes leaves us looking for increasingly desperate ways to cope. Many drug addicts and other substance abusers in recovery reveal that they began their slide to dependency while trying to enhance their use of time.

Cocaine, for example, is commonly used by busy young professionals – its stimulating properties help them to function through the sleep deprivation and lack of downtime that a busy, high-paying job demands. From there, it’s but a short step to full on addiction.

It’s even harder for mums!

If it’s hard enough to manage the demands of work on your time when you’re a young, carefree professional, then imagine how much harder it is for mums. For us, our responsibilities don’t end when we walk out of the office door. Once we’re free of our day job, we start our ‘home job’, caring, feeding, tidying up after and generally organising our family and home.

And just as we’re not usually free to decide how we carve out our professional work day, so we’re bound to an unforgiving regime as a mum. Our children need to eat and sleep at pretty set times, and we’re obliged to help them whether we feel like it or not.

Likewise, their school uniform needs to be clean and ready to wear by Monday morning, and their packed lunch prepared.

So how can we liberate ourselves from the restrictions of modern life, and get some of that appealing Stone Age freedom (while retaining our centrally-heated homes and modern appliances!)?

Why freelancers are like Stone Age workers

One answer could lie on your choice of work. While you can’t choose whether or not to feed your children every day, you can decide how and when you work, and who for when you go freelance.

As a freelancer you can use the skills you enjoy to earn money on your terms. And within reason (as long as you meet your agreed client deadlines) you can decide when, where and how you work – just like a Stone Age worker. You can take breaks when you like, and work at the time of day that suits you best, around your family.

Take back control of your life

Taking back control of your own time in this way is an important step towards a happy, stress-free life.

Sure, it requires a degree of self-motivation that some people struggle with at first – if you’re used to being motivated and controlled by an employer, the freedoms of freelance can be quite heady initially.

Every freelancer has that moment where they realise that they’re going to actually have to do some work or their bank balance is going to suffer! However, once you get used to motivating yourself, the freedom of being master of your own time puts your psyche into a much more natural state.

So if you want to enjoy the stress-free life of a Stone Age woman, say goodbye to the constraints of modern office life, and consider going freelance. Manky furs aside, it’s a much more natural way of life.

Written by Ann Gage.