Starting out as a freelancer, you may be working from home. While it saves money and eliminates commuting, there are some hidden problems to overcome – and these 10 secrets will show you how.
Here are the Top 10 Tips to guarantee success in freelancing from home:
- Find Your Creative Time Zone
Unlike a corporate setting, you’re in charge of your own hours. This is awesome. And now it’s up to you to find out your most creative times.
Many freelancers like to work early in the morning. Creativity is running high. No one else is up. The house is quiet and you can really get things done. If this is true for you, don’t miss those golden hours. Set your alarm and get cracking. By breakfast, you’ll have done a huge chunk of your work.
If you’ve got a different time that’s your sweet spot for creativity, make sure you organize your day to be in your office.
- Know Your A, B, C’s
For a quick time management tool, outline your activities in what’s known as the ABC analysis. It is easier than you think, and very helpful for organizing and prioritizing tasks.
A – tasks that are perceived as urgent and important
B – tasks that are important but not urgent
C – Tasks that are unimportant
If you love this kind of thinking, you can continue and further rank all of the “B” items as either “A” or “C.”
The advantage of this analysis is it’s quick and simple. You’ll recognize the critical few, those priority tasks that naturally rise to the top.
- Tell Your Family and Friends
Let people know when you’re working, when you are available to talk, and when your office is off limits. Communicating in advance helps you create an oasis of time to get your work done. When you set clear boundaries, it helps people around you know what to expect. This is how you can work from home uninterrupted, manage work sprints and have a happy, harmonious family life.
Telling your friends about your availability is a key part of successful freelancing. If your friends drop by during work hours, if people think you are free to ski, surf or take off – your success is at risk. Telling friends in advance helps you set clear expectations, and have thriving friendships, while working from home.
- Work In Time Chunks
This may be the most critical secret in freelancing. More time on a project does not equal more creativity. Working more does not increase performance. Over time, you’ll find out what is your ideal time chunk for maximum productivity. For some, it is 40 minutes. For others, 90 minutes is perfect.
Check this out for yourself. What are you really doing with your time?
A quick way to figure this out is keeping a time log. What you discover may be shocking. You’ll see exactly where all your time is really going. If you notice huge chunks going to surfing, daydreaming, doing low-priority chores, pay attention. This is a good time to figure out your most productive time chunk.
After years of freelancing, it seems to be that 90 minutes is an ideal chunk of time for strategic creative work. After this, it helps to take a break, go for a walk and then come back for more. Try it out and identify your ideal time chunk for focused work.
- Make Up Your Own Rules
Working from home is convenient and cost-effective. But only when you have a clear defined line between ‘work-work,’ and ‘house-work.’ If your time gets taken up doing housework, your freelance focus will suffer. This includes cleaning, washing dishes, ironing, vacuuming and the real time-eater: laundry.
Every successful freelancer has personal guidelines on separating work from house chores, such as:
• “No laundry on work days. Ever.”
• “Laundry after 4pm. Only.”
• “Work is work time. Play is play time.”
Take your pick. Start defining your personal work-house rules. Experiment and refine until you find what works best for you.
- Take Breaks – Every Day!
You need to take breaks!
Even if it feels like working more is going to help you get more done…it’s ultimately not true. After a period of working non-stop, your productivity goes down.
If you learn how to take breaks, you’ll have a happier and easier time doing your best work.
Think about taking breaks for different activities such as stretching, going outside, taking a walk or having a coffee. Experiment with different apps to encourage yourself to get more done – and take care of yourself in the process.
- Forget Multi-Tasking
Believing in multitasking is like believing the lies of a seductive temptress. The promise seems real. It sounds like this: “I’ll get more done if I do two, three or ten things at once.”
But it isn’t really true. Research from Stanford found that doing one thing at a time is more effective than multitasking. The findings document the dangers diminishing returns of multi-tasking. It does not work to make you more productive, creative or employable.
In fact, doing a lot at once makes you less creative, less productive and less able to recognize irrelevant from relevant information. If you’ve believed multi-tasking is the way to go, it’s time to reconsider.
Instead of doing multiple things at once, make a plan and follow through on each step. In a short time you’ll see for the improvement. By doing less at one time, you’ll get more done!
- Create Visual Project Boards
Climbing through tons of papers to find your client notes? If you have a visual planning space, you’ll be able to see what has to happen each day.
If you have a wall, create a physical board. With colorful notes and cards, capture the things you want to work on each day, week and month.
If you are working from your laptop, put your ideas into a visual form. For example, create a Conojo project file. Keep all your ideas in one spot. This is a simple, colorful and creative way to organize your projects. Instead of searching through your desktop or desk to get organized, you’ll know exactly where to start each day.
- Meet Face-to-Face
While freelancing from home is all about freedom, it can be isolating at times. As one home-based entrepreneur confessed to a group of freelancers, “I went for days without talking to anyone. I got so focused on my screen, I forgot how to speak to other people.”
Isolation from people may be another negative side effect of multi-tasking. In Stanford studies, over-reliance on electronic communication created signs of social isolation.
What can you do to keep a healthy balance? Find ways to meet with people face-to-face. Schedule a face-to-face meeting with a peer. Discuss a project over a cup of coffee. Celebrate signing a new contract by meeting your client in person. Get out and have a conversation—whether it’s related to your business or not.
Organize your day, week and month to meet up with people.
- Create An Office Of Your Own
Avoid common pitfalls of working from home including:
- Working on the kitchen or dining room table
- Sharing a computer or desk with anyone else
- Space or time share arrangements in any room
- Working out of your bedroom
Create a space in your home that is used exclusively by you, for your work. It doesn’t have to be big. But it does need to be for your use alone.
Many freelancers have tried to create office spaces in shared locations and random spaces. If you’ve attempted this, you know it doesn’t work. When you need quiet, someone else wants to play or listen to music. When you want background music, someone else demands quiet.
An office of your own is essential for focused creativity, and strategic work on your business. It doesn’t have to be a huge space, but it really helps when it is a room dedicated entirely for your freelance work.
With these Top 10 secrets, freelancing from home is easier, more productive – and a lot more fun!