It’s the dream of so many; to be your own boss, working from home and in pyjamas, with a freshly brewed coffee in one hand, a margarita in the other, leftover curry for lunch and a few emails sent each day enough to earn its keep.
But rarely does dream versus reality so starkly disagree. Self-discipline, motivation, unreliable incomes and unpredictable hours are just some of the obstacles that can cause you to trip, stumble and fall if you’re not constantly vigilant, alert and on your A-game. Without a ruthless streak, the boundaries of home and office converge in such a way that you never clock out, even answering emails in your sleep. The weekends are still work days, and the money rarely arrives when it’s supposed to. It’s vital then, to be as productive and disciplined as possible. Here’s how; our 5 IDEAL ways to be a more efficient freelancer.
OUTSOURCE WHERE POSSIBLE
Though no wo/man is an island, being a freelancer can often feel like one. As such, you might find yourself trying to do everything yourself, both to save money and retain creative control of every process of your precious work. We don’t blame you. But we can’t stress this enough; collaboration is king and sharing the load (even at a cost) is extremely worthwhile, for your creative output and your stress levels.
So, outsource jobs wherever possible; there are experts in every esoteric field you could think of, so make the most of them. Let’s be honest, they’re probably better equipped than you to complete the job to your requirements. Some major tasks which definitely merit outsourcing include: any printing you may have in bulk (www.helloprint.co.uk are particular favourites of ours), proofreading and editing (upwork.com lead the field) and website and logo design (for this, we’d turn to fiverr.com).
HARNESS THE POWER OF PROPER HOME OFFICE WORKFLOW
Nine times out of ten, working freelance means from home. That, or a clustered coffee shop unconducive to getting anything done. Nope, it’s a far more efficient move in the long run to get the former tidy, well appointed and war ready for work. Above all, this encourages a more disciplined and regimented approach to the working day, rather than an aimless back’n’forth between Pret and Costa and the inevitable battle with their wifi.
You needn’t invest in fancy gadgets to harness the power of proper home office workflow. Instead, prioritise the finer details. Declutter religiously and ruthlessly, set up pot plants (ideal for boosting productivity), perhaps even embrace the power of a standing desk and decent, supportive chair. Most pertinently, create a distinction between your working space and domestic areas of recreation, thus eliminating distraction and temptation. Efficiency will naturally follow. Check out some more of our tips for home office heaven here.
TAKE A CHANCE ON TECHNOLOGY
Freelancing can be a lonely gig; no watercooler discussion of the latest Love Island episode, no gossip with colleagues about superiors and no help with deadlines. While technology can’t help with the first two (‘Alexa doesn’t understand your request to speculate about Graham from accounts’), it certainly can assist with certain aspects of your work, particularly those reliant on repetition. So, schedule tasks and automate wherever possible, standardise process, set reminders and instructions on your preferred home office app and, in doing so, leave yourself room for the creative, skilled elements of your work which you, and you alone, are best at.
SET BOUNDARIES DIGITALLY
Work smarter, not harder, as the old saying goes. Never has this been truer than when discussing freelancers. The fact that there is seemingly no sense of when the working day has finished and the downtime begun seriously affects productivity. Indeed, as a freelancer, you’ll likely find that your eyes are fixed on a laptop or phone from the moment you first sit down to work in the morning to the point you turn in for the night. With no true downtime, efficiency actually suffers greatly.
It’s fair to say that sometimes willpower alone just isn’t enough, especially when your income depends on your constant clicking, typing and scrolling, to drag yourself away. You can, however, set various digital reminders, automatic messages and timed lock outs to help you wrestle back control of your work/life balance. Consider an out of office reply from 6pm until the next morning, to mimic closing the office door behind you. With proper rest and respite, you’ll find your work inevitably improves. It’s so true it bears repeating; work smarter, not harder.
Self employment can sometimes feel like an undirected meander through the day, rather than a purposeful and focused foray. Setting targets, both long and short term, is the key to success when you are your own boss. These don’t necessarily have to be purely focused on income, revenue and money making; personal growth and training should also play a part. This holistic approach to improvement will be more beneficial to your company’s flourishing in the long run, make no mistake.