Technology has made it possible for individuals like me to work remotely. Quite honestly, I enjoy being on my own and not wasting time worrying about getting late to work, clothes etc. I can work from my den in Zen mode in a pajama and oversized tee and unkempt hair. However, beneath all the gloss of ‘being your own boss’ lies the reality no freelancer can escape.
Forget the inner struggle, there are days when I have to deal with external factors. If it helps, I have a 65-year-old neighbour who loves playing music loud enough that it penetrates the walls and into my ears. Sometimes I surprise him and sing along because in his playlist figure a few of my English favourites and an evergreen French song: la vie en rose! Then there’s a home-alone dog that lives upstairs whose temperament changes every other minute. The icing on the cake is that there’s a high school right across the road with the best-behaved kids (hint: sarcasm)!
Truth be told: C’est la vie! One is supposed to manage distractions other than just the bed which you will agree is a temptation larger than a tiramisu!
Of course, it is fun and fulfilling to have the entire house to yourself, but there’s a good deal you don’t know about a freelancing. It takes constant effort to break out of the mould. Now although I wouldn’t call this a rule book, but these tips will come handy:
Break monotony: Don’t make one corner of your home your work space. Find a comfortable spot which could even be your balcony or by the window sill or even your bed. I know of a few friends who admit to functioning the best from their bed. I, on the contrary am a nomad and perch in different spots within 15 seconds of commute time and make it my work station. I like change. Period.
The idea is to keep moving: You got feet, laptop and internet. Get away. Break free. If your client can afford a co-working space for you then take a subscription or pay as you go and bill them. Find a public library or sit in a coffee shop.
Don't starve yourself: Your ‘I can eat later’ or ‘I am not hungry yet’ or ‘I loathe eating alone’ can actually rat you out of good health. Had you been working full-time you would have had lunch, right? Why not now? Get accustomed to eating alone. Whether or not you cook yourself, make sure you don’t fall into the processed food trap just because it is less time consuming. Good food = good health. Must you forget that? Load your refrigerator with fruits that you can munch on any time of the day.
Manage expectations: Since you don’t work in office premise your colleagues or clients might think you are accessible 24X7 when you clearly are not. Make them aware of your working hours so that no one encroaches your personal space. In fact, the same logic applies when you are on holidays. Set an auto-responder to incoming emails so that everyone knows you are not checking your emails and/or taking calls.
Use your free time: Whether you work on per hour basis or take one project at a time you must still ensure you have some free time. The real struggle, however, is using it wisely. You might be tempted to doing nothing except watching videos and it will then take you a couple of hours before you realize you wasted time you cannot afford! Pick up a book instead to get away from the screen. Do something that relaxes you. I prefer playing some light music or going out for a brisk walk during which I phone my family and friends.
Review your day: #OldHabits die hard. This is something I picked up over the years. Spend the last 10 minutes of your working day evaluating on what you accomplished and the distractors that kept you from doing work. Prepare a combat strategy. Fight them hard and discipline yourself. It won’t happen overnight. So, take your time.
For me, the transition from working full-time to freelance was both natural and circumstantial. Initially, I was apprehensive about missing out on the real, social connect, but gradually came to terms with it. I compensated this loss by pushing myself and socializing with peers from the same industry. What ensues is an exchange or download of knowledge. Besides, if you can make time then enroll for a few online courses relevant to your field. This step will take care of your fear of becoming obsolete.
Most importantly, file your taxes. Whichever part of the world you’re based out of, acquaint yourself of the laws and do as is required.