By Leo Babauta
With the rush of daily tasks thrown at us, freelancers have a hard time focusing on any one task.
And yet, focusing fully on a task, and getting immersed into it, is the key to really being productive and doing the task exceedingly well. This is known in many circles as the state of Flow, where you are lost in a task, and aren’t aware of anything else.
But while Flow is seen as a highly desirable state, in the business world as well as sports, art, martial arts and more, what’s less easy is describing how to get into that state.
It’s not that difficult, but it requires six specific things. Here, then, is a guide to getting into flow, for freelancers.
1. Clearly Defined Outcome. If you don’t really know what you’re shooting for, you won’t be able to achieve Flow. You should have a clearly visualized outcome, a target you are shooting for. This will keep you focused in one direction, and striving to get there. In trying to achieve Flow, start with this point. If you don’t know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, take a couple of minutes to visualize your outcome, clarify it, define it exactly.
2. Intrinsically Rewarding Task. If you hate a task, you will have a hard time achieving Flow, because your mind will try to think about things that are more pleasant. So it helps to start with something you love doing. But even if you don’t, try to find something rewarding about the task. Try to see something enjoyable about it. You can find that in almost any task (except the extremely painful ones). If you can focus on the enjoyable aspects of a task, your mind is more likely to want to remain on the task.
I can see through you. You read the headline and think “MySpace”. Far from it. It’s true that social networks are all the rage these days. Every day a number of new communities pop up on the scene. Some are for fun, but some can be quite useful, especially for the job-seeking freelancer.
MySpace for some is only a place to hang out, chat, be friends with hundreds of bands, or just have cool-looking personal pages. For others MySpace is a place to get new gigs. I know many people who’ve gotten new jobs through it, and I’m pretty sure that some of you could tell similar stories.
Without passing judgment on any of them, the platforms I’d keep my eye on are LinkedIn, FaceBook, and especially for European freelancers, Xing (formerly known as OpenBC). The latter is my main platform for business networking. Since my focus is on the German market this works out pretty well for me.
We here at FreelanceSwitch have decided that reading is overrated. Why read when you could listen to us talking about freelancing?
We’re in the process of setting up some podcasts for your listening pleasure, but we need your help! If there are any topics you’d like to hear us cover please let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to cover it.
And then stay tuned for the FSw podcasts, coming soon!
NB. We will be producing podcasts bi-weekly as another resource on FSw – they will not be replacing articles on the site. There will be extensive notes on each one for those of you who prefer to read than listen. Apologies to all of you who I managed to stress out! Never fear – articles are not going anywhere
I can tell you your future! Sure I can. Are you holding a mouse while slouching in your nice office chair? Maybe you’re a coder. Resting our hands on the keyboard wrist pad, are we? Guess what, you’re going to be in a lot of pain pretty soon. Think neck, back and wrist pains… Have them? Good. I was right.
You are suffering from repetitive strain injury – and you’re not alone. With more and more people working on their computers for far longer hours, RSI is becoming a big problem. Costing people their health and business billions of dollars.
An Army of One
As a freelancer, you depend solely on ourselves. You have partners, colleagues, etc. But the brunt of the work you do personally. A broken computer you can replace. Lost files can be saved. You on the other hand aren’t replaceable. In this case, it’s all about you. No one will look after your health besides you. Loss of delicate movement in the hands can spell career death to a designer, illustrator, writer, developer. In order to prevent current and future pains, here are a few simple tips to get you back, and always ready for action.
Thanks to all that entered the FreelanceSwitch Global Freelancer Survey!! The survey is now closed, with almost 5000 people taking part.
We’ve already learned some amazing things about our readers, which will help us cater our content to you. The results will be collated and will be sent to all participants on October 5th 2007. We think the results will help all of us get a greater insight into our industries and the freelancing community as a whole.
We’ve just emailed the winner, so if your name happens to be Adrian and you’re from Sydney (we swear it was a coincidence!) check your email right now! Thank you to all that took part, and stay tuned for the results in your inbox!
No freelancer is perfect — not me, not you, not even the best of us. We all make mistakes, all the time, and if we’re smart, we learn from them.
Some mistakes, however, are more crucial than others, and if we can correct or avoid those mistakes, we’ll survive. We’ll still make other mistakes, but they won’t hurt as much.
Let’s take a look at some of the most essential mistakes that freelancers, new and old, often make, and how to avoid them.
Missing deadlines. I wrote more on this topic in this post, but basically, your ability to put out quality work and meet deadlines is what makes your reputation. And as a freelancer, your reputation is all you have. If you miss deadlines too often, you will soon see your clients going elsewhere. How to avoid: Make deadlines one of your top two priorities (along with putting out great work), overestimate how long it will take you, break the project into smaller steps, and be accountable every step of the way. Continue Reading
To blog or not to blog, that is the question!
Whether you are a freelance coder, designer or writer, you certainly need to look for opportunities to increase your exposure. The more visibility you have, the higher the quantity and quality of work that will appear.
Could a blog be the right marketing tool? The blogging phenomenon is expanding rapidly. It would be difficult browse around the Internet for 30 minutes without crossing one. As a freelancer, however, would a blog represent a smart career move? In one word: absolutely! Below you’ll find five reasons why any freelancer should blog.
Grow your network
There is an old business saying that goes like this: “It is not about what you know but who you know.” As a freelancer, this is particularly true. The difference between getting big projects knocking at your door and having to hunt down for cents here and there might come from your network.
Ideally you want to have as many people as possible aware of your work. Better yet, you want this people to endorse your work and refer it to their friends.
What a better tool for that purpose than a blog? Some time ago websites would communicate unilaterally. The website owner would publish some information and the visitors would absorb it. That was quite unbalanced, and it was difficult for relationships to blossom along the way.
Blogs, on the other hand, have many features that make this communication bilateral. Readers are able to comment and interact directly with the author and with fellow readers. Other bloggers are also able to interact with the author, creating a vast web of relationships.
This structure makes blogs almost perfect networking tools.
And now the winners of Von’s keyboard characters!
Last week we asked you to go to the Keyboard Characters website, pick your favourite character and tell us why you love it. Now, two lucky winners will receive a set of Keyboard Characters to spruce up their workspace. So without further ado, the winners are:
I Love Fish Bowl for many reasons: I am a Pisces, my first name rhymes with Piranha (not Vanna), and the skull in the tank keeps me in touch with my punk rock past! Hooray for that!
I have a hard time picking between Snilbog and Fish Bowl, but I’m gonna say Snilbog. I like him the best for the same reason that I love Pugs. So slobbery and ugly and lovable, how could you not?
Thanks to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for the next FSw giveaway!
Dear Aunty Entity,
Does anyone ever use MS project to produce project schedules?
Signed, Phil McCracken
Dear Mr Crack,
Aaah yessss, the project fantasy charts. Impressive to unfurl across a boardroom table, a glorious sight in Xerox’s finest technicolour, some of them deserving of the Booker prize for best new fiction… just make sure you have them the right side up, that’s a dear. If produced at the beginning of the project and left as is for the remainder, they are as useful as the proverbial tits on a bull.
MS Project is listed on many job ads as a desirable or even a ‘must-have’ but consider this: Many corporate clients do not have a copy of MS project.
Time for a roundup of useful links from across this beast we call the world wide web:
Outlaw Design helps us Organize Our Graphic Design Files and Folders. This is very important for any design newbie so take note!
Are you working with a team of people remotely? Creative Briefing has 5 ways to manage them online that will save time and headaches.
Blogology tells us how to be a funny blogger while being serious.
Darius at ColourLovers gives us some colour inspiration with the New Seven Wonders Of The World.
If you have a useful link or article that you think FreelanceSwitch readers would be interested in, Send It In!
If you have an interesting story to tell, a press release will help you to make newspaper editors aware of it.
Maybe you recently won an award. Maybe you stumbled upon some interesting information in the field you work in. Or maybe your design contributed towards some kind of achievement on behalf of your client.
Depending on the scale and content of your story, you can send your press release to marketing websites, marketing magazines, the relevant trade press, the regional press, and even the business section of the national press.
Don’t confuse a press release with an advertorial. Advertorials are essentially promotional articles. If you want your press release to be treated seriously, you’ll have to sacrifice the temptation to plug the benefits of your service up-front, and instead disguise them with informative content.
Let’s assume you have an interesting story to tell. How do you present it in a way that encourages editors to print it?