My retainer contract is dominating my life—any advice?

Hi all,

I’ve been a freelance copywriter for over two years. Having recently gone full-time, I just landed my first proper retainer contract for 15 hours/week.

Obviously this is great. It’s decent money, and I appreciate the consistent work. I also like working with the client.

That said, I am having an issue with boundaries, and I don’t think the client is the problem—I am.

I’m a people-pleaser, so I don’t like to leave my computer for long in case the client needs me. I frequently check to see if they’ve messaged me. (It’s a fast-paced industry, so I feel like I have to move quickly.) If the client has messaged, I drop everything and start working. If I go jogging or whatever, I get antsy if I’m not back online within two hours or so.

The result is that while the client only pays for three hours of work per day, the job dominates my entire schedule. I am constantly accommodating for the client even when they don’t actually need anything.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Is this normal? If not, can anyone offer advice on general expectations re. timeliness in this kind of scenario ?

Thanks in advance—I’ve learned lots from the people here, and I’d really appreciate any guidance!

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