My work as a freelance writer and visual arts dabbler demands a more creative and dedicated approach to time-management and chunking work-blocks effectively. Like many, I have a busy family-life to balance, but not having a 9-5 job affords me many ninja skills for coping during our current pandemic, as well as a unique flexibility to innovate a work-flow that serves clients and allows me to be a more present parent and spouse.
If You Can, Choose Happy
It isn’t always a choice, but it can be an option to at least focus on the positives. I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping a gratitude journal to remind me there are always things to be grateful for. I am never one to dismiss or discount the dismal realities we may be facing–but both personally and collectively, it’s important to choose a few things to list as our Thankful Fors.
If you’re recently transitioned to working from home, you probably are starting to refer to your house as a madhouse. If you’re not yet, congratulations. Many of us, in fact, are–and those with kids have a blessing/curse conundrum in that at least we don’t have to talk to our plants as though they are people, we do have to worry about the plants being upended by wild children struggling with the isolation and confinement.
5 Tips For the Work-at-Home-Freelancer
- Treat your job like a…well…job. I’m guilty of saying, “well, I can make any appointment at any time because my schedule is flexible.” Not true. I don’t have a traditional 9-5, but I have work to fit in the day–that is valid reason to be protective of my time and realize I’m responsible for treating my work-hours as valid chunks of time.
- Block out FOUR HOUR work periods during your self-imposed work-week. I say FOUR with emphasis because, like me, freelance probably appeals because it isn’t strictly and eight hour work day all the time without variation. I do recommend committing to four hour chunks, though, because now you have allotted time to work productively without interruption. You will be less likely to schedule appointments or cut your day short because of other peoples’ needs if you create four hour work-blocks. Anything less, it is easier to lose productivity; anything more, you may feel it hinders the flexible appeal of freelance.
- Set THREE small goals. Then kill them. Kill them dead! I like the number three because it is doable; even if one of the goals is bigger, like “finish writing client’s 10 page content package,” I know I can accomplish it within my four hour work-block (with the help of the right soundtrack, that is). And usually, accomplishing three goals snowballs to five or six–depending upon the task size. It is a good number to aim for when I need help boosting a positive trajectory.
- Keep a journal and list notebook. As with everything on this list, modify whatever items you need in order to make it work. Discard the advice that doesn’t resonate with you. Many creative freelance types, however, may like the idea of keeping a tangible notebook with lined or unlined paper to capture their thoughts, notes, lists, and letters. I personally have a lot circulating; stationary and unique notebooks is a sort of collector’s-hobby for me at this point in my life, and I don’t like wasting so I have many notebooks dedicated to lists, doodles, work-related notes, home-related notes, personal journaling, and personal art journaling. ET CETERA. Find something to keep near your work-desk that makes you happy and reminds you to be you. You will be happier, and this will lend itself to greater productivity.
- Teach others to treat your job like a job. This ties back to point number one, and it demands that you honor point number one and take it seriously. In every aspect of our lives, we essentially teach others how we want to be treated. When you work from home, are self-employed, and call yourself a freelancer, the need to define your work time and your scope of work as a real thing demanding time and space to accomplish is paramount. People will think of you as a stay-at-home-parent, a part-time dabbler, and a hobbyist if you do not teach them that your work is valuable and the time and space needed to do it is mandatory.
Recognizing your Pitfalls and Being Proactive
It’s so hard to admit where we fall short, but recognizing your pitfalls and developing solutions is the best way to proactively meet your success. Number Five in my list can be the hardest of all for me. I’ve struggled with teaching others to take me seriously, largely in part because I didn’t take my own work seriously. I can say that, in the past year or two, that has drastically changed and I have seen my own success grow exponentially as a result.
I wrote a post similar to this one almost a year ago, but now things are super different for the whole world. Suddenly, many are working from home during the unprecedented times of COVID-19. My husband is included in that newly-minted work-from-home status. Last year he responded to my frustration about working from home and balancing it all with, “I’m honestly grateful I have a desk and an office to go to, nobody questions that. If I had to work at home and see stuff piling up, I think I would lose my mind too.”
Never underestimate the power of feeling validated. Working from home is no less of a job than one that exists in an office. Our unprecedented times are proving that. And when we shift our mindset to embrace this work-from-home setup, I see the potential for a world that is flourishing with arrangements that really do have better work-life balance and allow families to bond and have more quality time together.
I look back on my frustration that was really at an all-time-high one year ago, and I realize it was less about my personal situation and more about how the world is or isn’t built for working from home. I’m seeing people make the shift to working at home, though, and I feel like it’s a beautiful thing. COVID-19 aside, of course, because this part of the isolating, social-distancing is devastating. It’s my hope, though, that we can collectively develop a better approach to work, the economy, and business solutions so that people can create meaningful lives that don’t require such a divisive way of life.
Of course, many types of jobs require a physical place other than home. But many tech-based, customer support, and even education jobs, don’t require a physical office–or maybe simply less workplace time is required to be productive and successful. If you can work from home and make it a productive, positive experience, I’m applauding you from over here.
Thanks for Reading!
Were these tips helpful? What tips do you have to add? I’d love to hear what works for you and what you’re doing to conquer and thrive the work-from-home challenges!
Until next time,