More and more people are quitting their 9-5 jobs to work independently as freelancers, choosing to prioritise family, friends and hobbies. Freelancers seem to be living the dream, with their autonomy and flexibility, but everything is not as easy as it might seem – being a successful freelancer takes some serious time, effort and organisation. The best way to do so, ironically, is by creating a workplace culture. Here’s how.
Schedule your day Creating a daily schedule – and forcing yourself to stick to it – is probably the best way to increase your productivity, while decreasing your stress levels. Mimic a day-to-day structure in a normal office by starting to work every day at the same time, dedicating a fixed amount of time in the morning to emails, having a one-hour lunch break, and not allowing yourself to get distracted for too long. Scheduling your day will help you make better decisions – no more hour-long Instagram breaks! This doesn’t mean you should put too much pressure on yourself – as a freelancer, you are your own boss, so it’s completely up to you how much you want to achieve in a day!
Stick to normal working hours It can be tempting to sleep in when you have no office to show up to and put off a task only to end up staying up late at night, in your pyjamas, typing frenetically on your keyboard. Avoid falling into this vicious circle by sticking to normal working hours, such as 9 am to 5 pm. Start and stop working at the same time every day, and you’ll not only find it easier to relax once you’ve officially called it a day but also be more productive when you are working. Working for more than 8 hours a day ironically doesn’t mean you will get more done, as your productivity levels will drop, so avoid overloading yourself. Of course, this won’t work for everybody, as some people are more productive at times that are outside of the normal 9-5 working day. If that is the case, choose to work during those hours, but always make sure that you’re not working for more than 8 hours a day.
Create a home office Being able to work without leaving the comfort of your bed can seem like an advantage, but is it really helping you get things done? Create a designated space for work, be it an actual home office or just a corner of your living room, so that every time you sit at your desk your brain will know it’s time to concentrate. Make sure you have lots of natural light, a clean and organised desk and a quality ergonomic office chair, which will give you proper lumbar support to reduce the stress being exerted on your back and muscles.
Save for your tax bills Make sure you are ready for your tax bills by splitting your income and setting up a separate bank account specifically for tax money savings. Forbid yourself from using it for any other purposes, understanding that not all your income is yours to keep. You could even go as far as paying yourself the same salary every month, setting the rest aside or drawing from your savings when things are slow – this will allow you the financial stability that freelancers tend to miss, will keep you from overspending and help you save for retirement and emergencies.
Create a network of colleagues Freelancing can get lonely – working from the comfort of your home should mean you have more time to socialise, but you’ll find yourself working on your own with no colleagues to chat to during your coffee break. Create a network of colleagues you can turn to in times of need, of simply when you’re looking for a distraction – turn up to local networking events, get in touch with contacts you haven’t seen in a while, connect with fellow freelancers and arrange meetings in coffee shops… being as sociable as possible will help new opportunities come your way, and you might make life-long friends.”
By: Richard Edwards
Published: 14th September 2017