Whenever I apply for a job that I think I really want, I busy myself for the five minutes following my submission and then settle down to wait for their call. I realize that this is ridiculous - no one calls five minutes after a job applicant sends his or her materials. However, once or twice, I received a response very shortly after my resume and cover letter were received. While that was very exciting, it did screw up my expectations since obviously it could happen. While I'm waiting for my future employer to call me, I have some time to reflect on the freelance and consulting jobs I'm doing now. (This is another waiting situation. I would be working on these projects instead of waiting for calls, but I'm waiting for feedback or further instructions before I can finish the work. This is fine, though. I expect the waiting period.) One of the jobs is a flat rate and the other is by the hour. Initially I thought that the flat rate people might be worse off than the hourly rate, but my analysis has revealed surprising data.
In my flat rate job, I tend to not think about how much time each task requires. I do the work, I submit it, I wait for feedback, and I revise. Repeat process. There's a rigid deadline, so I know this won't go on forever. I have no idea if I "made" money or if my client got some sort of steal. The price we agreed upon was based on the number of hours I estimated it would take me to complete the job. Since there's no need to track hours, I'm not stressing about how many hours I spent. I'm content.
My hourly rate job, however, is making me nuts. The contract says that I get paid $X for Y hours, and I can't make a dime more. Every second I spend above Y hours makes me angry. I can't believe I'm doing all this extra work and not being compensated for it. It's a slightly different situation because it is a teaching gig, but it does not make me inclined to spend hours evaluating students' homework when my time will go unpaid. I already am not being paid for the hours of prep work I pour into each class. I basically get paid to instruct and that's it. What is interesting, though, is if they had just told me that I would get a set amount to teach a set number of classes, I'd not think about it all. Like my flat rate job, any additional work generated by the work would just be part of the job. (Just like a regular job - no problem.)
Fascinating how semantics makes such a difference. The same deal sounds good in one situation and awful in another.