LinkedIn told me I have now been freelancing for 2 years. I have no idea how this happened considering in the early stages I wondered if I could last 2 months. (If I’d been aware the anniversary was coming up I would have thrown myself a solo party.)
But it got me thinking about the way my work life has changed over the last few years – for better and worse – and I thought I would try and impart some of the lessons I have learnt along the way.
Working for yourself (and by yourself) can be a challenging, lonely experience. But it can also be incredibly liberating, empowering and good for your health. Here’s how to make the most of it.
- Define Your Work Space
Until we moved to Sydney a few months ago I had never owned a desk. I used to work mostly at the kitchen table, which was always wildly inconvenient when other family members needed to eat. It also meant there was no distinction in my house between work and play (or more importantly – eating). If there is a way to cordon off a little section of your home, be it in the bedroom, spare room or garden, claim it for your office and this should improve concentration.
(Click here to see a vlog filmed from my home office in Sydney.)
- Make The Most Of Flexible Hours
It’s very rare for anyone, especially freelancers, to work a 9 to 5 so don’t force yourself to do the same. For my first year of freelancing I felt like I was slacking off if I went to see or friend or run errands during the working day but this is one of the main perks of being your own boss. As long as you get the work done before deadline it doesn’t matter what part of the day you do it in. Let yourself off the hook.
- Take Breaks
Along the same lines, don’t forget to chill out every now and then. When I worked in a big office my day would be broken up by conversations with colleagues, coffee/tea/chocolate/ice cream runs and trips to the loo. When I began working from home these distractions (imperative social interactions) were no longer around, so I often find myself sitting in the same position staring at the screen for hours on end. Now I take regular breaks; walks to the park, coffee runs, YouTube yoga sessions, to stop my bum going numb and eyes glazing over.
- Be Disciplined
There is work to be done here though folks, freelancing can’t be one long break or else we’d never pay our bills. Being your own boss does require a certain level of discipline and determination. Set yourself daily or weekly objectives to keep yourself on track and write a to do list so you can tick tasks off as you complete them. To make this task more inspiring download and print one of the gorgeous Daily Blogging Checklists from the recently launched Blog Love Studio.
Daily Blogging Checklist by Blog Love Studio
If you are in danger of getting lost in social media black holes use tools such as Rescue Time to record and restrict the time you spend on these sites.
(Click here for more of my favourite resources for freelance bloggers.)
- Be Social
Confession: sometimes it gets to the middle of the week and I realise I haven’t left the house/interacted with another human being other than my partner for 3 whole days. As my partner will attest – this is not healthy! What works better is if I schedule regular meetings with clients or potential new contacts at different points throughout the week. I also have a couple of close freelancer friends here in Sydney who I meet on a weekly basis to discuss blogging/the highs and lows of freelancing and it’s so refreshing to talk to people in the same boat. When you work from home alone it takes extra planning and motivation to be sociable but the benefits (both personally and professionally) are worth it.
- Get Dressed!
This may seem a very strange and obvious point to end on but hear me out. It’s an old cliché that bloggers/freelancers work from home, writing about exotic places and fast fashion, in their pj’s because it’s true. Although it is wonderful to not have to wake up and put on a full face of make up and choose a new outfit to wear everyday, I kind of miss doing so. Plus when I work in slobbish clothes I feel slobbish. Instead I now put on something smart (but comfortable) to get me in the right frame of mind for work. It also means I am never caught off guard – who knows when a client might want to use video on a Skype call!
These are some of the biggest lessons I have learnt since working from home. Do you have any handy pointers to add?