Are you a freelance writer? A work-from-home official? You will be able to relate to what I am about to tell you.
When I first started working out of my laptop, I had the unreal notion of flexible schedule, comforts of home and nice meals. Oh! How naive I was. No one ever told me that it never starts like that. It starts with loss of comfort, everyone undermining your hard work and meals are never nice or even peaceful. Contrary to false believes, when I first started out, I could never manage to squeeze in lunches before 3 pm. Breakfast was either a hasty affair or a glass of milk.
I realized that office rules, like fixed hours and fixed wages make scheduling easier and bring security. So what if they bring underpaid overworked anxieties. Ignore the sarcasm!
My point is: office might be sucking the life out of you but freelancing isn’t a bed of roses either. We have to work hard to make it so. Since I wasn’t going to go back to office life, I started to work my way towards creating habits. For a freelance writer or any freelancer, time is an asset. You and I started working as a freelancer to use that asset, not to loose it.
So, what must be done to bring a sense of schedule into our life so that we can separate work and play while enjoying both?
- The biggest problem for all freelancer is boundaries: Either home never feels like workplace or it always feels like a workplace. Even if you don’t have an office, designate a working space for yourself. Buy a desk and appoint yourself a fixed area. Use it for a fixed number of hours daily.
- For writers, writing comes easiest when inspiration (or mood) strikes; which can translate to 3 am, 12 pm or not at all. While the former works, latter does not. Assign a time of the day to work. You might have to cut back Netflix binge time or late nights TV but once you make room for your work at a fixed hour, your subconscious starts to activate creativity in that period of time like a habit.
- All freelancers need to learn to jump from one work to another without having to wait for inspiration. Divide time slots for all your work. Perhaps, 1 hour to each client, an hour for emails and a last hour to cold mails, pitches and messages. OR. Assign time for different projects. If you are a night owl or an early bird, assign urgent, quick tasks to that time of the day. I personally find it very productive.
- You need not memorize all your schedule. Use productive applications. I used to work with handmade monthly calendars on my cork board. Since then, I have upgraded to a work calendar on my phone. Applications like Evernote, Wunderlist, Basecamp, Google Calendar and Dropbox have been highly spoken for as a favorite go-to for work management. Manage your next day’s calendar half an hour before sleep.
- Make your own schedule. Since you are the one sending pitches and negotiating work, ask for your own weekends. If you have kids and a family, Sundays are the best but Mondays could be your personal Fridays. Create your own space after the kids are off to school and the husband/wife is off to office. I often take mid Friday to Sunday off and work 4 and a half days a week.
- Break hours need not be lunch hours. Take a couple hours of break away from the screen (where your work life resides) and indulge in other activities like cooking, jogging, workshops or anything that rejuvenates you. Us work-from-home professionals need our daily dose of physical workout for health reasons. Get some sun.
- Keep away from ‘Urgent-Work’ clients: Every once in a while, there is a need for untimely changes. Urgent emails are part of work! Don’t confuse them with urgent clients. These people always have urgent work that needs to be done on priority. They work on their own schedule with disregard to yours, don’t reply on time and often have changes/work demands in the 11th hour. They mess up your schedule. Identify them and keep away.
Freelancing can be a dream job where you are the master of your life, waking up at 10 am and going out on fancy brunches, if and only if, you get your work-from-home life organised and scheduled.
Get scheduling freelancers.
See you next blog!