Five Habits to Successfully Freelance From Home
By Craig Cannings
Do you remember a time when the words “freelance from home” sounded impossible? Years ago, the concept of working from home didn’t make sense to a lot of people. It was a thrilling prospect, but it sounded daunting.
With the right habits and strategies in place, however, anyone can successfully freelance from home. Consider these stats:
– According to a survey by Upwork, 22% of the U.S. workforce is expected to be fully remote by 2025.
– A report by Owl Labs found that 71% of remote workers are happy with their jobs, compared to 55% of on-site workers.
– The same report by Owl Labs found that remote workers save an average of $4,523 per year on expenses related to commuting, meals, and clothing.
These numbers point to a remote work revolution that’s providing new freedoms and opportunities for those who want to work remotely and pursue a freelance career.
But freelance work does come with challenges, and funny anecdotes have emerged from the work-from-home movement. Six years ago, a BBC News interview with Professor Robert Kelly went viral when his two young children burst into the room. Moments later, his wife flew in and pulled the children out with superhuman speed. It’s worth another watch!
If you own a freelance business, you may have some stories of your own — the cat that wants to participate in your important Zoom call, the neighbor who catches you singing near an open window while you work, the client who notices you’re wearing pajama bottoms with your dress shirt.
But never fear! From setting up a dedicated workspace to managing your work-life balance – in this blog post, we’ll discuss five tips to help you get started on your journey towards becoming successful as you freelance from home.
So, if you’re looking for guidance on how to make freelance work pay off while still maintaining balance in life, read on.
Table of Contents:
Five Habits to Successfully Freelance from Home
1. Set up an effective home office.
For a successful home office setup, consider both practical and aesthetic factors when choosing your workspace. Think about the amount of natural light available, how much noise you’ll be exposed to, and if there are any distractions that could impact productivity.
For example, in our “Freelancer’s Checklist to Working (and Thriving) from Home,” we recommend choosing an area of your house that can act as a dedicated work station. Also, consider how much space you need so you don’t feel cramped. And in addition to natural light, include a small desk lamp and an overhead light that doesn’t overpower your computer screen.
Create an Ergonomic Workspace
Investing in quality equipment can make all the difference in creating an ergonomic workspace. A comfortable chair with lumbar support, a desk that allows for proper posture, and accessories like laptop stands or monitor risers can help reduce strain on your body while working from home. You may also want to choose an adjustable desk that allows you to either sit or stand so you can avoid the discomfort of sitting for too long.
Add Personal Touches
Also consider adding personal touches such as plants or artwork to create a calming atmosphere that inspires creativity. Inspirational pictures or wall quotes, family photos, a calendar, desk toys, swag items from clients, and a source of music or ambient noise can help inspire and motivate you.
Invest in the Right Equipment and Supplies
Investing in the right equipment will not only help keep you comfortable but also organized during long workdays at home. Be sure to stock up on basic items like pens and paper clips if needed as well as larger items such as filing cabinets or printer stands for maximum efficiency.
Additionally, investing in reliable technology is key; look into buying high-quality laptops or desktop computers with enough storage capacity for large files plus backup external hard drives so nothing gets lost due to technical issues. Cloud-based services like Dropbox and Google Drive can also provide effective file backup.
Once you have the right space, equipment, and supplies to create an ergonomic workspace, it’s time to establish a routine and schedule that works for your lifestyle. By developing a daily plan of action, prioritizing tasks and deadlines, and taking breaks when needed, you’ll be well on your way towards success as you freelance from home.
2. Develop a consistent routine and schedule.
Having a routine and schedule is essential for freelancers who work from home. Staying motivated and focused when working solo can be challenging, yet having a strategy for tackling tasks in your freelance jobs can help keep you on course. Here are some tips for developing an effective daily routine and schedule as a remote worker.
Develop a Daily Plan of Action
Start each day with an achievable goal in mind. Whether it’s completing five tasks or writing 500 words, setting clear objectives will help you stay productive throughout the day. Break down larger projects into smaller chunks that are easier to manage, and give yourself plenty of time for breaks throughout the day – your brain needs them.
In a previous blog post, “How to Avoid Burnout in Your Freelance Business,” we recommend using time tracking tools like Toggl or FreshBooks to manage your breaks and record how long you’re working on tasks. You can also use a calendar to block out time for working on specific tasks for a specific length of time each day.
Prioritize Tasks and Deadlines
Before starting any project, take some time to prioritize tasks based on importance or urgency. Focus on one task at a time, completing it before advancing to the next item, so that you meet deadlines without overburdening yourself. Additionally, factor in the time each task may need so that you don’t overlook any cut-off dates because of a lack of preparation.
Take Regular Breaks
As mentioned above, remember to fill your workday with pauses, so you can keep feeling energized and refreshed. Set aside enough break times and plan out vacation days far in advance, so clients know when they should expect responses from you (and vice versa). Use this “downtime” wisely by engaging in activities such as exercise or hobbies that improve both physical health and mental well-being while providing much needed rest away from freelance jobs.
For example, we recommend getting up from your desk at regular intervals and standing, stretching, walking, or running, either in your house or outside. You may even want to do a quick workout using an online class or YouTube video. If you’re feeling lonely and unmotivated, a quick phone call or coffee date with a good friend can also help recharge and invigorate you.
Creating a daily plan and agenda is essential when you freelance from home so you can do your work effectively, orderly, and on target. Managing distractions and staying focused can also be difficult when working remotely; however, with the right strategies it’s possible to maintain focus throughout your day.
3. Manage distractions and stay focused.
Distractions can be a freelancer’s worst enemy. Remaining concentrated and efficient as you freelance from home is critical for achieving your business goals in freelance jobs. Fortunately, you can stay productive and on task by choosing certain strategies.
Identify Your Distractions
First, realizing what types of distractions you’re prone to will help you prevent them. For example, if your family members or roommates often interrupt your work, it may be helpful to set up an office space away from the main living area or establish specific hours when they know not to disturb you.
In a FreeU blog post titled “Five Productivity Pitfalls and How to Overcome Them,” we outline the five productivity pitfalls discussed in our Productivity Power course:
– Personal pitfalls (e.g. unhealthy eating habits or health issues)
– Digital pitfalls (e.g. email, smartphone notifications, or social media)
– Environmental pitfalls (e.g. a disorganized office or ongoing interruptions)
– Organizational pitfalls (e.g. multitasking or too many urgent tasks on your list)
– Motivational pitfalls (e.g. procrastination or boredom).
Once you’ve identified your pitfalls, choose the strategies that work best for you. As I say in the course, “There is no one-size-fits-all productivity system … what works for one person will not necessarily work for the rest!”
Set Boundaries with Family and Friends
You should also make sure your family and friends understand your boundaries when you freelance from home. Let those closest to you know that although being available for them is important, having designated times for work will ultimately benefit everyone involved by helping ensure projects are completed efficiently and deadlines are met successfully.
Consider using a visual cue like a closed office door or a sign that says “Freelancer at Work” to let everyone know you’re working. Schedule time to spend with loved ones when you can give them your full attention, and don’t feel guilty about saying no to interruptions.
Using Focus-Enhancing Tools and Techniques
To stay on the ball throughout the day, try using focus-enhancing tools such as noise-canceling headphones or apps designed specifically to block out distracting websites while working online; these tools can provide just enough white noise or prevent access only when necessary in order to keep concentration where it needs to be — on your freelance jobs.
For instance, we recommend using RescueTime and Freedom to block websites and apps so you can work without being distracted. You can also try a time-tracking app like Focus Booster to help you manage work and break times.
Other techniques include establishing mini goals throughout the day (e.g. achieving three tasks before lunch), which helps break larger projects into more manageable parts. This approach works well with time blocking and helps you track your progress without being overwhelmed by too much all at once.
Step Away from Your Workspace
Remember to step away from your workspace every now and then, especially when you don’t have colleagues around reminding you when it’s time for a break. For example, if you choose to do an online fitness class during your break, try to exercise in a different room so you aren’t spending all your time in your home office.
Getting away from your desk periodically will help you maintain focus levels over long periods of time without becoming exhausted or burning out completely.
Staying focused and managing distractions is an essential skill for freelancers to master in order to succeed. With that being said, the next step is building professional relationships remotely when you freelance from home.
4. Build professional relationships remotely.
Networking online to discover potential clients or customers is a great way to make your presence known and widen your professional connections when you freelance from home. Using social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can help build your professional network and reveal job or client opportunities.
Join Online Groups
You can also join groups related to your industry on these platforms that may have job postings available. Maintaining an up-to-date profile which portrays a professional image is essential for gaining credibility and respect from those who view it.
For instance, in our FreeU Facebook Group, students have access to job postings as well as mentors who can help them navigate challenges and share successes. The professional relationships that develop here are invaluable.
Communicating effectively through email, video calls, etc., is key when working remotely with clients. Having clear expectations from the start will ensure both parties understand what needs to be done so the projects and freelance jobs will be successful.
Additionally, responding promptly (within 24 hours) shows respect for their time and builds trust between you and your clients. Developing clear guidelines that promote open, honest communication is crucial; this allows any confusion or problems that occur during the project to be resolved promptly before they turn into greater issues later.
We recommend building a client management calendar to help you plan how you’ll communicate with clients, including video conference meetings and check-ins on project timelines and progression. You can also use project management tools like Asana or Trello for client communication.
Building professional relationships remotely requires a lot of skill and effort, but with the right knowledge and tools it can be done effectively. Managing your work-life balance is essential for any successful freelancer, so let’s now explore this topic further.
5. Remember to manage your work-life balance.
When you freelance from home, sometimes the lines between work and home become blurred. As we discuss in a previous blog post, “How to Maintain a Work-Life Balance When You’re Always at Home,” the pendulum can swing from one extreme to the other. Here are some strategies to help keep both sides balanced.
Create a Division Between Work and Life
As mentioned above, it’s important to have boundaries with friends and family. But you may also need to create some boundaries for yourself. In the blog post mentioned above, we recommend creating tangible divisions between work and life activities so you can identify which mode you’re in.
For example, you could adopt specific rituals or practices to signal to yourself when you’re starting and finishing work. Maybe you have a comfy pair of slippers that keep your feet warm while you’re sitting at the computer. If so, consider reserving those slippers for work, and wear another pair around the house after work.
Also, be sure to control your communications outside of office hours. If you have project management app notifications set on your phone, silence them when you’re having dinner with your family or spending time with friends. During personal time, prioritize personal messages and conversations.
Quiet Your Mind
To be fully present with loved ones when you freelance from home, you need a way to silence your thoughts about work so you don’t focus on them outside the office. In a blog post titled “Seven Productivity Tools to Add More Time to Your Week,” we recommend using an app called Calm to help you relax and meditate using music, nature scenes, and sounds to listen to.
Here are some other options that might work for you at the end of the day:
– Listening to a favorite song or playing a musical instrument
– Writing a journal entry with your thoughts about the day
– Looking out the window and spending a few moments in silence.
With these strategies, you can keep the lines between home and work firmly in place.
Freelancing from home can be hugely gratifying, but it requires hard work and planning to guarantee success. By setting up your workspace, establishing a routine and schedule that works for you, managing distractions while staying focused on the task at hand, building professional relationships remotely with clients or colleagues, and managing your work-life balance, you can enjoy a fulfilling career as you freelance from home.
And don’t worry if you encounter humorous moments and interruptions during your freelance work. Those funny anecdotes are part of the new reality we live in, where working from home is now a popular and enjoyable way of life! The freedom is worth any challenges along the way.