Tell somebody you work freelancing and more often than not they’ll either tell you that they are jealous of you, or that you’re “living the dream”.
It is easy to romanticise working from the luxury of your own home. A cup of coffee on a tray elegantly placed next to a buttery croissant, a rolled up newspaper and a small dog nestling into the blankets at the bottom of the bed, but for 99% percent of freelancers this is not exactly the reality.
Freelancing is a wonderful thing, it offers you a sense of freedom seldom found when working in a conventional office space, but it does have setbacks. Working for yourself can provide huge challenges if you aren’t prepared or lack much needed motivation.
Here are the 7 tips I use on a daily basis to make life easier:
Freelancing is work, so act like it.
Don’t ignore your alarm, get up, shake it off and get started. It doesn’t matter how you start your day, just start it as soon as possible. Some people need caffeine and a bacon sandwich and other’s swear by hot water, lemon and a Pilates class. It doesn’t matter what gets you raring to go, your routine is your personal choice, cultivating one is what truly matters. I am always grateful when I resist the urge for just ‘another 5 minutes’ under the covers and I can then start the day feeling like I’ve already achieved something.
Do the thing you want to do the least, first.
The best advice I was ever given, is to get that dreaded lurking task out of the way first thing in the morning. Completing the most difficult or dull task on my to-do list gives me a huge sense of personal pride and makes the rest of the day’s work feel like a walk in the park.
Be kind to yourself.
I berate myself for not finishing projects on time, but stress itself becomes a hurdle if you allow it. We all procrastinate from time to time, and with the endless loop of dog video’s and Netflix show’s out there, it is a miracle anybody get’s anything done at all! Remember to breathe, have something to eat or drink and go for a 15 minute walk outside to get some perspective. You’ll feel rested and ready to work again in no time, self care is always key.
Dress the part, even if nobody can see.
I wouldn’t turn up to an important meeting hungover or wearing a shirt with ketchup down it to an office, so I don’t do it at home. Freelancing alone DOES give you the option to be a total slob yet I find it really does make a huge difference to how I feel. I approach tasks in a much more professional and capable manner when I shower, get dressed and set myself up at a table to work.
Download productivity apps.
I find downloading productivity apps like Feedly (An app which allows you to bookmark articles that you may not have time to read immediately), Harvest (An app which helps you track how much time you spend on a certain project — hugely helpful when billing clients), and StayFocused (The app I find most helpful as it blocks websites you find distracting) help me to stay on track and stop me from taking mindless Buzzfeed quizzes.
Get out of there!
Freelancing from home can make you feel sluggish and depressed. It is true human’s are social creatures and we need to be out there in the world interacting with each other. This may not be for everyone, but I focus much better when I am surrounded by people. The gentle hum of a coffee shop is perfect background noise to get me through a workload, try it yourself to see if it works for you.
Set boundaries and switch off.
If a client is asking too much of you out of hours, be firm and explain what time you commit to work and what time you are ‘out of office.’ Unless your job requires 24/7 activity and engagement, it is important to set yourself what hours you work and how long for, just like any other job out there. I often struggle to switch off my laptop and wind down, so I remind myself that I wouldn’t be at the office at 11pm researching HR tech news, and so I won’t do it at home.
I enjoy freelancing so much more now I have trusty ways and means to fall back on. These days I rarely feel overwhelmed with my work load, and I always tell myself no matter what happens, tomorrow is another day to improve myself and my work.