Apparently, freelancers are a breed of their own, preferring to work for themselves as opposed to taking orders from a boss. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they could never work or go to school from home because of the lack of leadership. No boss making sure you’re on task, no management telling you what to do next, and no point of reference or sense of direction except for yourself and your client projects.
Though this lack of outside motivation is a downfall for some, it’s the whole reason for working for the entrepreneurial freelancer. We get to choose our own hours, take breaks when we feel we need them (not when it’s dictated to us), take a day off in the middle of the week, and essentially run our own business.
There are several things that help to maintain focus and keep your work life moving along. The freelance market is pretty good – I can choose my jobs and clients, quit when I want to, and find work again with minimal effort and expenditure. I don’t even have to spend gas money on applying for jobs. At $4.10 a gallon and 20 miles from the nearest small city, that’s a pretty big plus.
So, in honor of the title of this post, my first (and possibly the most important) point to make is that taking breaks is important. This goes hand in hand with time management techniques that people who accomplish a lot in a day tend to practice. So how can you better manage your time specifically if you work from home as a freelancer?
1. Take Breaks
Yep. Here’s the thing: if you’re sitting there for hours on end, plowing out work, focused and incredibly immersed in whatever project you’re working on, it can become overwhelming, tiring, and not fun. Remember the whole reason you got into this field and started working for yourself is to keep from having a boss breathing down your neck, right? Well, what good is that – honestly – if you start lagging and getting into that mindset of, “I don’t wanna!”
It happens to the best of us. We wake up or get into that groove, work and work and work, and before we know it, it’s late afternoon, we want a nap desperately, realize we haven’t eaten all day and that we’re running on caffeine fumes.
Well. Not everyone is like that, but you get my point.
I’ve found that taking a 30 minute or so break t either sit with my kids, do the dishes, or do a small cleaning project helps me keep the
entire day moving more smoothly. So, the next time you feel like your brain is mushy or you’re not working as efficiently as you could be, I suggest you go sweep the floor in the kitchen, vacuum, or wipe down some counters. If you’re really ambitious, you can even start that “clean out the fridge” project you’ve been desperately needing to do for the past 2 months. Getting up from the computer chair and doing something (even if it’s as mundane as cleaning) will help your mind switch gears and you’ll be able to focus again much more quickly. (It helps to play some loud music that gets you moving… just fyi!)
2. Make a List
I love lists. The reason I love lists is because I’m a somewhat visual person, so being able to see
what I have to do and then see
what I’ve finished keeps me motivated to get the rest of it done that day.
My planner sits to my right on my desk. It’s a full-sized planner with each day spanning about 1/3 of a page except for Sat/Sun, which share a third. Mondays are on the left, Thursdays start the right side, and each day is usually filled with my random tasks, notes, scribbles, and scratched out tasks. The scratched out tasks are the
ones I live for!
It’s the feeling you get when you finish a big project – like a book. Granted it’s on a smaller scale, but it’s still an amazing feeling. I usually write down all of the things I hope to accomplish that day as far as work goes and write myself reminders about other things – like if the kids have some sort of event – and cross those off when appropriate, too. It’s just one less thing to worry about when it’s done, and I think that’s where the good feeling comes from.
Now, imagine it’s 3pm, you’ve only been working since 9am, and you get that last item crossed off. Guess what that means! Relax time! The day is done. That means you can help the kids with their homework, watch TV, play some games, clean… whatever you want!
THAT’S the freedom that freelancers are working for in the first place.
3. Do Something for You
The reason why so many people feel overworked is because the lose the time they need to focus on their own projects.
For freelancers, there’s usually some business goal or entrepreneurial idea that they want and need to focus on at least a little bit in order to get closer to achieving their dreams. Even people working regular jobs probably have bigger dreams than sitting in an office all day or waitressing – I mean come on! We may as well just get you a listing of the latest administrative assistant jobs.
One important aspect to working from home is to make a little time for your own projects. This helps to keep your motivation and energy up as well as keeping your personal goals and dreams on point.
Of course these things vary for everyone… but persistence, achievement, and keeping your own dreams alive is a good way to continue working toward them. Even if there doesn’t seem to be any time… you can make 30 minutes. Replace one of your TV shows with work on your own projects. If you have research to do on something you need, read while you eat… it’s not like you can type with a plate of food right in front of you. Just keep your own dreams alive and kicking so you don’t feel like a slave to the system. You might as well just rejoin the rat race if that’s how you want to feel, right?