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Well, no one said this was going to be easy. But it is worth it.
I started digging in and focusing on freelance work at the beginning of the year. I had put it off for too long, just dabbling here and there, (see this post). Within 5 months of actually committing, I moved to a full-time freelance workload with some pretty amazing clients.
Location independence is more difficult than an office job – in some ways.
Working from home makes for a whole hell of a lot of distraction. Ohh I need a snack. The kitties need snuggled. The dishes need done. What’s new on Instagram? Ohh I need another snack.
It means spending half of your day at the vet because you’re the only one who can go. It means doing 3 airport runs every month. And it means running more of the errands because your schedule is more flexible.
Then you turn around and you’ve only worked 4 hours that day.
Friends of mine have said “Stop being so hard on yourself. You worked really hard during those 4 hours. You’re doing great!”. While their intentions are good, what they fail to realize is that if I only work for 4 hours one day, I only get PAID for 4 hours one day.
Working on a freelance basis means I’m not on a salary. I don’t get to just clock into an office in the morning and clock out at 5 pm, regardless of how much work I actually did that day. I won’t have my clients paying for my coffee breaks or outside phone calls I take. It’s amazing to realize that while you maybe have been sitting at your computer for 8 hours, you were only working productively for maybe 5 of those.
I highly encourage all of you in more traditional office jobs to spend just one week tracking your productivity on a timer. Be militant about it. Anything that pulls you away from PRODUCTIVE WORK for more than 5 minutes means you should be logged off for it. Let me know what you find out because I’m sure it will be quite interesting.
It means I’ve had to find new ways to hold myself accountable. I’m working on showing up for myself, and not just from my clients. Anyone else here an Obliger?
So how am I learning to be more productive during working hours?
These have been a great way to stay productive and meet some interesting people. Some freelance, some own their own companies, and some are just remote emplyees. I use and app called Croissant which allows me just the right amount of hours at several coworking spaces in my area and tons all across the globe. The downside – they’re all at least a 45 min drive to the Eastside or into the city. Not really helpful for my current suburban life. But definitely worth it in the end.
Timers and to-do lists
I’m starting to play with Pomodoros (or similar) to set some boundaries for myself. Cuckoo is a free tool I found from DNG and seems to work pretty well, but you can always use your phone timer too. I’ve used Asana, which I love in a lot of ways. But I’ve gone back to the good old pen and paper technique. I take meeting notes on my computer and transfer all To-Dos to my physical list.
Shutting off your laptop ‘after business hours’
HA. This is definitely still a work in progress for me. Learning boundaries is something all those new to this life have to battle. They say working for yourself is great because you get to pick which 12 hour days you want to work. With everything accessible all the time, it can be nearly impossible to actually turn off. I’ve been known to open up my laptop again when I can’t sleep at 11 pm.
A few other things I hadn’t considered.
I also sit on my couch or at the desk most of the day, so I’m getting much less activity in.
Well, with this flexible schedule, doesn’t that mean I can go to the gym more often? The simple answer – yes. However, my gym is further away than I’d like so I’ve had to switch back to home workouts to help eliminate those excuses.
I’m alone a lot.
Personally, I really really value my own personal space. So, for the most part, I actually really love this. But it also means it’s much harder to find people to bounce ideas off, help find innovative solutions, or just to shoot the shit in the breakroom with. You’re not really given the opportunity to meet many new people. This is why coworking spaces and networking events are so stinking important for anyone who works from home or is location independence. You still need to find yourself a community of like-minded people to help you grow and keep you from becoming a hermit who only showers once a week.
But on the plus side – travel no longer requires manager approval.
I get to travel whenever and wherever I want. And frankly, this was my #1 motivation for changing my career path. But when you’re the only remote worker, it can be tough. It takes discipline to not go into town with everyone else. It means you have to find your own quiet space while everyone else is partying it up. And it also means you’re a freaking SLAVE to wifi. My trips to Grenada and Martinique proved how difficult that can sometimes be. Also, timezones can be a bitch.
And I get work views like this.
At the end of the day, I cannot even begin to put into words how happy I am to have built my life this way. This was an intentional decision for me, and I can’t imagine ever going back. And I also cannot wait to see what this next year has in store for me.
I’m undeniably lucky to be where I’m at, but that doesn’t mean its easy. I am still learning and growing in this freelance world, but grateful to be in such good company.