3 words that sounded like sweet awesomeness in my head when I first started doing it, about three years ago. After all, who wouldn’t want to avoid the mundane routine of getting dressed every morning, the traffic rush and boring conference room meetings? Sounds like your ideal work life – doesn’t it? Well if you have a constant job that requires you to be at your station about 10 hours a day ( even in another city), then you at least have a routine and definite goals set.
But if you are a Freelancer – the boss of your own enterprise, then you my friend have been eaten up by the looming ghost of “SLACKING off” at least once in your week. “Work in my pajamas, yes please! But first – lemme take a nap, and finish this presentation off later, I have the freedom to set my own schedule!”
Yeah that’s where most work-from-home freelancers go wrong. So if you have taken the plunge, firstly- congratulations, you have made the most important decision of your life. Now, it’s time to grab the bull by the horns and cultivate some very IMPORTANT habits that will keep your business going and also keep your sanity in check.
- Don’t get too comfy in your pajamas/house clothes.
For me, I miss getting dressed for work a lot, sometimes. It was my routine to charge up for the day and play the part of a professional while looking oh-so-good at it. The morning minutes spent in making sure a hair isn’t out of place, was my stimulant for a productive day. Try to carry on the same feeling inside your own home too. Get up, treat every day as a new, productive day, shower, put on some decent clothes and sit at your desk to work your butt off. If you are in your PJs all day, that familiar sleepy feeling will take over and the slack cycle begins. Don’t get too comfortable.
2. Keep your workspace clean.
A messy desk is the showcase of a cluttered mind. Follow the same rules of cleanliness at your home desk too. Dedicate a space to be your home office and treat it with the same amount of respect as your cubicle. Arrange your files in order, make sure not to eat at your desk unless absolutely necessary and try to keep the space purely professional. When break time calls, switch over to the other room for some Netflixing, step out of the work zone. Respect the separation.
3. Establish a routine.
It’s very easy to lose track of time even when you promise yourself ” Just one episode of The Walking Dead and I am gonna get back to work!”. A 4 hour binge later, your mind is probably feeling awesome , but your work has piled up. Establish a no-nonsense routine between work and leisure. Mark them down and try as much as you can to not sway from the routine- unless ABSOLUTELY needed, for emergencies only. For every 2 hours of work, take a break for about 30 mins- refresh yourself and get back to it. Use apps to block out social media and other distractions, if needed.
4. Stay away from the idiot box.
I read an incredibly true-to-life tweet the other day by Ace Comedian Sorabh Pant, ” You can either have a career or watch all the good TV shows out there.”. Yup. And the idiot box’s lure is what you need to get away from! As I said earlier, no binge watching in the work hours, none on your desktop/lappie either! Dedicate the after work hours to your favorite shows.
5. Workout. EVERY DAY.
I am currently 7 months pregnant and working from home. In some ways, I am like a giant garbage can that has food constantly dumped inside it. Part of it is courtesy the calories required for a healthy baby but the other 50% is due to putting off exercising and letting the laziness take over. I cannot stress this enough, put you must workout your body EVERY SINGLE DAY. Push a trip to the gym in your routine for that much needed gush of energy. Not only will it take you outside the house for at least an hour for some air, but get you off the sitting position which is ruining the back ( trust me on this!).
6. No unwanted breaks- emergencies only.
Considering your hours are under your control, a mid -day coffee gossip with a friend can be fit in, right? Sure, but don’t let unwanted breaks and activities become a habit. This wouldn’t have been the case if you were working in an office, would it? Treat the professional hours and break the routine- incase of emergencies only. Errands can be run, coffee dates can be had, but the work hours take first priority.
7. Do not lose focus and sight of the bigger goal
This one’s a biggie. When you start off, you might not have as much work as you intended to, do not get disheartened. The key to building a successful freelance business is perseverance and you must stick with all of it. You have so much passion and energy at the start of your plunge, it’s common for it to die down in its middle phase. That’s where you need to motivate yourself every single day and keep the larger picture/goal in focus. You are your own boss, this is your time and you shall succeed. Do not let a few bumps on the road slow you down. Keep that head up and work towards your priorities!