If this pandemic has thrust you into a lifestyle you were not entirely ready for, freelancing, I am sure the whole transitioning process has been daunting. Changing your life from the 8-5 office routine to working from home or anywhere at any time can be more daunting than one is prepared for.
I mean, being in a position to work in your pajamas and being in charge of every aspect of your work calendar sounds like a sweet deal. But it comes with a lot of challenges, like distractions and lack of proper planning.
I’ll admit, when I started the transition from full-time employment to freelancing, I faced a few challenges. The daily office routine was part of me for a long time. Changing to a routine where I was home throughout was not as easy as I had expected.
Now, here I was, running a personal blog (you should check it out, by the way) and working on freelance for multiple clients. Finding a working balance in all of this was not easy, still not easy, but after a few months of practice, I have finally found that balance. I have a better working structure and am more productive than when I started as a freelancer. Below are a few tips on how to work from home effectively:
Creating a Working Environment
The first step is to create a working environment that suits your style- think of it as setting a home office. This includes getting a working desk, a comfortable office chair, and office accessories like note pads, diaries, and pens. Ensure that the desk fits your work items like the laptop, a monitor, and others, and still leaves you enough working space. The chair also needs to be as comfortable as possible and not hurt your back.
The next step is to get an internet connection from a reliable provider. Freelancing jobs are mostly online, and if your wifi connection is not as strong or reliable, you risk missing deadlines, interviews, or appointments with clients and future clients. It will hurt your freelancing career and earnings.
Also, a scanner and a printer might come in hand for any scanned documents you need to send. It will save you the hassle of looking for a cyber cafe where you can print documents.
However, there are days you will just want to sit on the couch, relax while getting some work done. A couch can be more comfy and relaxing than your office chair, but it can get exhausting when working on a computer. For this, you will need a lap desk, which ensures your shoulders, back, and neck does not strain. It also helps prevent your lap from heating up since laptops heat up.
Have a Plan
One of my struggles with freelancing was having a working plan. I did manage to meet the deadlines, but the lack of planning left me exhausted and sometimes disoriented. With a working schedule and plan, you can check off your work targets to make it easier for you to meet your targets. It also helps you avoid distractions.
You can use a manual system like a diary or a to-do list where you can slot work projects for specific days and time of the day and check them off that list. There are also apps for planning where you can schedule routine activities like lunch and any break times. I love these apps since they always send you a reminder of upcoming activities. The apps can also keep a record of missed activities and allow you to reschedule.
I started using Productivity Wizard, which also allows you to set future goals and note pap. At the end of each day, I go through the app and communications with clients, update the working hours for new projects, and re-arrange the following days working hours if needed. Unfortunately, it is only available for iOS devices. Another productivity app you can consider using is the Success Wizard and Daily Planner. Alternatively, you can blend these two systems.
What distracts me mostly is my phone and my monitor when watching. I have realized I am very poor at multitasking- watching a movie or series while working. If it’s a new movie or TV show I have not watched, I get completely lost in the storyline to the extent of forgetting about my work. However, what works for me is listening to music or replaying movies and TV shows I have already watched.
If your phone distracts you, keep it in silence, or use the “Do Not Disturb” feature on your phone for the period you don’t want disturbances from phone calls, messages, and other notifications. Keep off your social pages. If possible, leave your phone a distance away from you, like in another room. If your TV distracts you, switch it off. If your neighborhood is noisy like mine, get yourself a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Ignore any dirty laundry or dishes in the sink. If you are using a planner, you can schedule daily time slots for doing the dishes, cooking, laundry, and running other errands as per the last tip.
I have noticed about freelancing that it can suck you in, and before you know it, you are spending the better part of your day glued to your machine. I can be a bit of a workaholic, and being introverted doesn’t help the situations.
However, I am learning to take breaks for my sanity and health. I was getting used to taking pain killers to relieve headaches, but a few breaks during the day have drastically reduced these headaches. If possible, take a walk or run through your neighborhood, hit the gym, do some exercise at home, or anything that gets you up and away from work.
Trust me, it works. Yes, pajamas are all cozy but can sometimes derail your productivity and get you all sleepy. A little dressing up once in a while, though, gives you some morale and boosts your productivity.
A Little Change of the Environment Works
A spruced up home office will get you in a working mood every day. But it’s also good to change the environment now and then.
Most vibrant cities have co-working spaces where one can access wifi, printers, meals, snacks, or workout space for a fee. Such areas also enable you to network. Another option is going to a cafe where you can access an internet connection and a charging port.
Eat Healthy Meals
Cooking is another way to get a break from all the work but also ensures you stay healthy. Do not rely on snacks and fast foods as they can reduce your productivity and endanger your health.
For starters, breakfast is very important. You can have fruits and other healthy snacks like mixed nuts, fresh or dried fruits, or yogurt during the day.
In conclusion, working from home can be liberating but challenging. When done right, you will get your work done without missing deadlines and still keep a healthy life. The above tips on working from home will help, but every freelancer has a different working mode. Find what works for you and stick to it.