The advertisement reads:
Day job got you down?
Why not branch out on your own and make your mark?
This is what I call ‘the fantasy.'
If you want to branch out on your own, you have to be realistic.
Yes, you get to work from home. You get to decide what projects you’ll work on. You get to monetize your chosen skill. There’s a lot more freedom of choice. But there are also a lot of dangers that you must be aware of.
The Dangers of Going Freelance
So you get to work from home. Great! But what does this mean?
Option 1) You get up, have a shower, and sit in your office at home. You may have a hundred different projects to get to work on. You eat a quick snack at home in your kitchen when you’re hungry. You take a break at home in your living room. You decide you’re too tired for work, so you have dinner at home. What to do this evening? You could watch a film at home on your own. Now it’s bedtime.
Noticing a pattern? Everything you do is at home.
Option 2) You wake up at midday and lounge in bed till 1 pm. You finally drag yourself into the shower. You spend two hours choosing your outfit and making breakfast. You sit on your sofa with your laptop and stare at the screen. Okay, just one episode and then you’ll work, right? It’s now 4 pm, and you haven’t done any work. Not hungry - why bother making lunch? Feeling guilty, you do something that makes you feel like you’ve done a lot. 6 pm, time to cook dinner. You could watch a film while eating dinner, why not? 10pm...well now it’s too late to do any work.
Working from home is a lot harder than it sounds and the day-to-day routine can be worse than the humdrum office commute unless you combat it early.
With a lack of routine comes boredom, loneliness, procrastination, low levels of motivation, bad health, and, as a result, low self-esteem. You cannot build a good business when you’re unhappy.
But it’s not all doom and gloom if you do it right!
Combating the Dangers
This sounds like the death of fun, but without a schedule, you’ll have no will to work. Make a schedule and stick to it. (I’ll elaborate on scheduling in a minute.)
2. Go out
In the evenings, it starts to hurt when you realize you haven’t even left the house to go to the corner shop. Try to organize evening activities: societies and clubs, gigs, drinks out with friends…
It is very important to have a social life. Not only will evening activities give you something to look forward to and steer away the boredom, but it will also stimulate the mind.
Try to split up your days, as well. Join a morning yoga class, a creative writing course, an evening book club. Get yourself out of the house!
3. Do your work in a cafe
I considered this at first and frequently talked myself out of it, thinking I’d feel incredibly lonely sitting in a busy cafe alone.
A month into my new freelance business, I was waiting in a cafe for a friend. I took out my notebook and found myself, one hour later, knee-deep into my third article. There’s something about the hustle and bustle of a cafe that makes you feel busy and keeps the mind buzzing. Despite the noisy backdrop, there’s far less available to distract you. Most importantly, working in a cafe gets you out of the house.
4. Avoid distractions.
A lot of your time and concentration will be taken up by the buzzing of your phone. Ignore those notifications.
Put your phone on silent and close everything on your laptop that you don’t need for the task at hand; get your head in the game. You’ll find you may enjoy throwing yourself wholeheartedly into a project.
Getting yourself to start working is half the battle, but then you need to keep working.
1. Write a To Do List
Before doing any work, write out a to do list and get every little nagging task out of your brain. The washing, the grocery shopping, paying that bill, writing that article, contacting that client… Keep the to do list on hand because you will remember something else you have to do in that thirty-second break you take to get a glass of water.
2. Zone Out
I find it easier to work when there’s some background noise. When you’re working at home put some music on in the background. (Tip: I find orchestral music is best for this because there aren’t any lyrics to sing along to!)
3. Be Real
Be realistic about the time it takes to do things. Pessimists say it always takes thirty times longer than you expect. It’s okay to take your time to do things.
4. Ease Up
You need to remember to give yourself a break (though don’t overuse this excuse!). Give yourself a break every few hours, rather than just one break a day. The mind always works better when it isn’t tired. You don’t have to reach the end of your day feeling blasted.
It’s a very different thing, organizing your time around a deadline you’ve been given and sticking to deadlines you’ve given to yourself. There’s no one to penalize you except yourself. There are many different ways of scheduling your life. Try each of them and find the one that suits you best.
List everything you need to do and make your way through it. The list will grow as you get things done because, a lot of the time, getting one job done creates another three jobs. It is very important to finish what you are doing before starting something new.
Draw out a table with days and times of day and rigidly decide what you’re going to do hour by hour (keeping in mind the time it takes to do things).
Get a reminders app on your phone. It’s like a to do list, but you can set alarms for each task.
4. Move location
Start the day at a desk, move to your sofa, to the floor, to another desk, to the bed, outside. Stale surroundings can spark boredom and boredom is dangerous.
5. Keep it simple
Underestimate yourself; set one big task for the day and feel great when you do more than just that task.
6. Split it up
Scared of the giant task ahead? Split it into lots of smaller tasks, so it feels more conquerable.
It is very important to be realistic about the amount you can get done each day - don't think about quantity completed, but time and effort spent. Things do take time.
Don’t get yourself down. You’re doing something awesome. You’re creating your own business from scratch! Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back once in a while!
Maddy Glenn has been writing fiction from age seven. Maddy recently designed and released a free creative writing course on her website. She developed a freelance editing and writing platform, focusing on editing fantasy fiction and writing articles to help new writers develop their skills.