Photo by LifeHouseDesign.
WAHFs (Work-at-Home Freelancers) have it tough. Sure, there’s freedom of work schedule, not having to sit in traffic or otherwise commute, eating a home-cooked meal and being able to watch soap operas or Oprah everyday. But for some of us it gets darn lonely working at home all day, every day. Combine the state of the economy, the Holiday season, or the start of the winter blues and the feeling of loneliness right now can be magnified manyfold. If you’re single, it’s even worse because working at home means it’s that much harder to meet people, even for casual conversation, weekly drinks or whatever. Here are some tips for weathering that “lonely freelancer” feeling that sometimes visits.
Photo by gaetan lee.
In a previous article, Managing Multiple Freelance Gigs With Mind Maps, I covered how to use a grid/ mind map to track your freelancing projects and tasks. In this post, there’s a bit more detail about actually working on tasks, not just tracking them. ( See bottom of article for a free MindJet MindManager 8/Pro 7 map template of my work grid, as per some requests in the comments of the last article.)
The freelance task management process is best demonstrated by an example. Since my work is mostly freelance writing, that’s what I’m using here, though you can extrapolate for other types of work. Assume that you have a big writing project and several smaller ones for a given week – possibly with some of the larger projects spanning several weeks. Here’s what you do to manage and work on your tasks.
Photo by tarotastic.
“This is about structure,” the therapist said.
I’m sitting across from her because my husband found me sobbing into the carpet of my home office, again, some more. She’s sitting there because I’ve reached the point, now, where I need to pay people to listen to me.
“I thought this was about huge, huge amounts of anti-depressants.”
“No. For the first time in your life, you don’t have outside structure dictating your every move. And it is affecting your writing, and you are very angry.”
Photo by kennymatic.
It’s inevitable that many freelancers will watch the people in the companies they work for come and go. You know, turnover. But as a freelancer, you may be the one sticking around while others leave, and the transition can be difficult.
That’s because many freelancers love an ongoing gig—so when you get a new contact at a company, the shift can be unsettling. What if they use another freelancer? Will they communicate as well as your old representative did? What can you do if they’re not performing well? Is it your job to intervene when you’re a contractor?
Photo by Mat Honan.
We all know there are advantages of being a freelancer, especially if get have the luxury of working at home. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be creative every single day, especially if you’re worrying about payments, existing clients, finding new clients, feeling overworked, or whatever.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Here are some general tips to get the most out of your freelancing efforts.
Photo by padsbrother.
One of the problems with becoming a freelancer is that there’s no longer anybody watching your work, your progress, your ability and efficiency. Sure, there are clients bugging you about their projects, but who’s really evaluating your little operation?
I’m sure many freelancers are more than happy to be rid of the annual review, but it’s easy to get sloppy and miss opportunities when you’re not looking at your work, measuring your progress, and implementing changes.
Let’s take a look at a few metrics that are useful for spotting trends and problem areas, and how to track them.
Photo by Michel Filion (aka Mike9Alive).
Recently on FreelanceSwitch, I talked about attaining a good work-life balance. In that article, one of the methods for attaining a better balance was making a clear-cut decision about when you’ll work and how many hours you spend working each day, and sticking to those hours. We throw work-life balance off by creeping past those hours to get “just that bit more” done.
One of the biggest reasons I purchased my laptop was because I envisioned how great a tool it was going to be for working remotely. I will readily admit that although I look nothing like Mel Gibson, I had big plans on becoming the next Road Warrior.
It did not take me long to realize that there is no easy way to sync information between two computers, especially Outlook email, contacts, and tasks. I have a decent size contact list and a full calendar, so it was too late to switch everything over to online applications. For that reason I started a search into easy and affordable ways to sync Outlook between computers.
Photo by orangeacid.
Undeniably, one of the most difficult things about working at home is keeping people from perpetually distracting you during the workday, simply because you’re right there and they have nothing better to do. Or want you to take the trash out right then and there (hey, it has happened to me!).
To get anything done, you’ve really got to guard the home office and its status as a distraction-free zone. You’ve got to guard it so fiercely, you might even call it guarding the sanctity of the office. Here are five methods I use for keeping distractions at bay.
Photo by scragz.
Freelancing from home has many obvious benefits over working from an office. But it also has its downsides.
I don’t even know where to begin to describe my work environment, but it has two cats, two dogs, lots of chirpy birds and a few fish. There’s the occasional car passing by with thump-thumping bass on the stereo, too. But the worst is the over-protective younger dog who literally barks if I clear my throat too loudly. Many a time, I’ve had to re-record audio segments of a podcast or screencast as a result of her barking at phantoms. Heaven forbid anyone should knock on the door, setting her off in a tizzy of barking for many minutes. There are days when I don’t get much multimedia work done.
Photo by stop.down.
Having the ability to work from home rather than in a traditional office setting was probably one of the major attractions to freelancing for most of us. However, working solo from home can be a real challenge due to the lack of personal interaction. Although the peace and quiet of working alone is a great benefit, there are times when most of us would prefer to be around more people. If this is ever the case with you, here are ten things you can do to get more interaction as a freelancer.
Photo by laffy4k.
Work-life balance is a problem for many people. Not just freelancers, either—anyone who works in a job that involves some kind of thinking is tempted to take work home with them. I suppose that maintaining a good balance is one of the benefits to menial shift work.
But freelancers have it worst. Without an employer, our income is more dependent on performance than any corporate employee’s income. And for the vast majority of us, there’s no real distinction between our home life and our work life, because our work life happens at home.
Here’s the thing that we lose sight of: becoming a workaholic does not improve your bottom-line or productivity.