Last year was the first year of my freelance career. It was shaky, unsure and I rarely saw the light at the end of the tunnel. But what was perhaps even harder was figuring out how to successfully work from home. Can I wear yoga pants? Is it awful to sleep in? Is it weird to take the morning off and work at night?
Over the course of a year I’ve figured out a few things about what works for me (dressing up — maybe not in sequin leggings) and what doesn’t (heavy lunches), but I still have my fair share to learn. So I turned to three fabulous freelancer friends who are imparting their words of wisdom on what it’s like to be an at-home worker bee. Read on for their thoughts on sleeping in, separating work from home and watching Bravo.
ANN-MARIE ESPINOZA | DESIGNER + CRAFTER + STYLIST
On giving in to naps, TV, etc.
The secret to staying on track is to not view naps/TV/vegging on the couch as “bad” things, but simply as activities to enjoy in moderation. I would be lying if I said I didn’t take mini breaks throughout the day to catch up on Bravo reality shows or to lay down for a little bit for a mid-afternoon refresher! I find that the best part about working for myself is that I am the only person in charge of my schedule. If the couch is calling to me, I give it my attention for thirty minutes and then I return to work and never feel deprived. Always allow yourself a little bit of wiggle room!
On guilty feelings when you sleep in or go out to breakfast…
This is something I struggle with EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. While most of the world has to get up early and punch the clock from 9-5, I don’t have anyone making sure that I get up on time, get dressed, and accomplish all of my work between certain hours in order to get paid…that’s all on me. While this is the greatest gift EVER (I truly believe it!), it also makes me feel like I constantly have to “prove” to others that I really am working!
My advice for those particularly guilty moments is to reevaluate your current situation and ask yourself: “What are the immediate and long term consequences that I will have to face if I take a day off / sleep in / etc?” Usually, the answers will show that there are very few detriments to treating yourself to a little break from work. In fact, I find that taking a break from my routine actually helps me to be more productive and inspired when I return to work! You can’t possibly expect yourself to work 24/7. After all, what’s the point of freelancing if you never feel free?
JESSICA PACKARD | INTERIOR DESIGNER
On dressing up for work at home…
I actually enjoy having a clean face and working in my comfy clothes! Hey, that’s one of the upsides of working for yourself, right? If this doesn’t work for you, perhaps schedule a coffee date in the morning that way you come home feeling put together and ready to work.
On your workspace…
Create an inspiring work area even if it is your dining table, a little nook in your bedroom or an actual office. Make sure it is both functional and designed to make you WANT to work there.
RASHI BIRLA | GRAPHIC DESIGNER
On setting goals when you’re the boss…
I have to-do lists in so many forms — a Text Edit doc, a notepad, my journal, Teuxdeux — I probably should look into combining everything! The biggest thing that helped me keep myself accountable was when I started diligently tracking my time and how I was spending my days. I had my friend set up an Excel document for me with all these fancy formulas (though I’m sure there is some app out there that helps you do this) and I started tracking how much time I was spending on client work, business development, my blog, taking breaks, etc. The findings were really telling and have helped my structure my day so I can get the most out of it.
On separating work from home…
I’m still working on this one. I’m trying really hard to establish fixed hours for myself and forcing myself to stop. A lot of times I’ll schedule work-outs or social events for the evening so it forces me to get off the computer and stop work for the night. It helps that most of my friends and boyfriend get off work at fixed times, so oftentimes I’ll try to match my schedule to theirs.
On getting the hang of this freelance thing…
I’d say it took me a solid 6-8 months. The process was interesting — a lot of tears, self doubt, mornings I accidentally slept in, all-nighters pulled, days I spent in PJs all day long, days spent entirely doing finances, but I think I finally got the hang of it! I really wish I wasn’t so hard on myself throughout the process. All this stuff takes time and patience is a virtue. I think being a successful freelancer requires a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for you.
I’d love to know: Do you have any tips for being your own boss, working from home or freelancing in general?
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