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Freelancing or working for yourself requires a lot of discipline. When you have a desk in an office with a manager breathing down your neck all the time, you don’t have much choice but to get on with your work. But, when you have the freedom to work at any time and in any place, it is much too easy to get into bad habits.
There’s a lot to consider when starting a home business but the key to freelancing is to work out how you work best. For some people, afternoons spent in coffee shops are the most productive; for others, working in a home office in complete silence is the only way to get stuff done. Of course, in reality, you might find that where you work best depends entirely on your mood, your deadline and how much you like coffee in the first place.
So, here a few ideas to help you figure out a positive freelancing routine that works for you.
A Dedicated Workspace
Lots of freelancers really benefit from having a dedicated workspace. Even if you just have a desk in your spare room, having everything you need around you can help you to focus and settle into a good day’s work. Having the right furniture and a comfortable, supporting chair is really important because you want this space to be welcoming. You can find great office furniture at Local Furniture Outlet that suits a range of different styles.
If you are still feeling distracted working at home, you might also like to look into shared workspaces and offices that welcome hotdesking freelancers. You might also be surprised to find that your clients would welcome you to their office while you are working with them, even if you don’t have a meeting scheduled.
Coffee Shop Etiquette
Coffee shops are booming with the freelance revolution. They are appealing because they are far more sociable than sitting at home and present an opportunity to talk to new people and potentially make some friends. Since freelancers also tend to get to know other freelancers, meeting up in a coffee shop to work together once a week is a nice way for you all to get a bit more social contact during the week.
However, it is important that you understand a bit of coffee shop etiquette before you settle in for the day, plugging in all your electronics and ordering just a glass of tap water! The first thing is to ask if it’s okay for you to work there and be kind and respectful to the barista who serves you. A good rule of thumb is to order a drink every 1.5 hours and order a meal if you are there over lunchtime or you will be in for a while. Finally, be prepared to scooch up when it gets busy – this isn’t just polite, it’s a good way to meet new people too!
Setting and Meeting Deadlines
When you are working for yourself, it is easy to leave tasks to the last minute or take far longer over your work than you really should. This is why your routine must include a strategy for setting and meeting deadlines that works for you as well as your clients.
There are lots of strategies you can use, from setting tasks in 60 minutes slots to implementing soft deadlines to make sure you are on time. However, the strategy you use needs to reflect your style of work and shouldn’t get in the way of your goals. While writing a list of tasks might help some people, for others, writing the list could end up taking far more time than just getting on with the tasks!
As a freelancer, it can be tempting to say yes to everything and then worry about how you are going to fit it all in later. By figuring out roughly how much time every contract will take before you accept it, you can avoid disappointing clients. Sometimes, it’s better to say no than it is to cram the work in and underperform.
Learning to Take Breaks and Holidays
One of the biggest pitfalls for freelancers is finding time to rest. Even if you plan your time immaculately, you may find the chance to take on more work irresistible and fail to take time off for holidays or even just a weekend. The problem is that as a freelancer, there are never any guarantees so every chance feels like it could be the last one!
The best advice is to plan your holiday time in advance. If you know when you will be away and set your plans in stone, it’s a lot easier to prepare for your holiday. You could do a little more work in the run-up to your break to cover the time away but you should also look into some passive income options too. It’s difficult to know you won’t be earning for a week or two but the value of rest cannot be understated and you may find that your annual earnings go up as a result.
Allow Your Routine to Evolve With You
When you are first finding your feet as a freelancer, it’s important that you allow your routine to evolve with you. Try working in a few different coffee shops to see which ones are most welcoming and suited to your needs. Have a look at co-working spaces and try working at your dining table or setting up an office in your spare room. On some days, it might be helpful not to set time restrictions on what you do but on others, this might be the only way to keep up.
Where and how you work can depend entirely on what you are doing and where you think you will work best. Sometimes, you will crave the sociability that comes with a coffee shop or co-working space, at others, you may prefer to stay on your own at home in your pj’s, chilling out on the sofa. Learning what is best for you takes time and you won’t always get it right. But that’s part of the fun of working for yourself.
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