All freelancers live in spotlessly clean houses, with alphabetised spice racks and an encyclopaedic knowledge of disused Tube stations following endless fits of procrastination … right? A lot of people seem to think this is the case, as did I to an extent before I went freelance myself. As an employee I needed the structure of the office to get anything done, and I worried I wouldn’t be able to work once I didn’t have that to push me anymore. But what I didn’t realise was that when my boss and I became the same person, everything would change. In short: it’s not really “work”, it’s just what I do.
It takes a little while to figure out how to structure things when no one stands over you, but the challenge is no longer to keep myself motivated; I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard as I do now. The trick is to strike a balance where I can keep my eyes on the road while also getting the details right, because the project is massive and I have to cover all the roles myself. The project being, I should add, making enough money to live while also doing work that interests me. So here are a few things I found are worth considering in order to get things done as a freelancer:
This may all look quite structured for a freelancing life, which is supposed to be about freedom, but I have found that only by making sure I am on top of everything can I actually let go and enjoy myself. Only by having a list to refer to each Monday morning can I be sure to keep a pace that means I don’t have to work the weekend – taking time off is very, very important to stay motivated. And only by checking in with the long-term plan can I make sure I progress towards bigger goals, by chasing after new opportunities instead of just keep doing the same old work. Spending my time pursuing things I want rather than just reacting to requests is a big part of why I went freelance in the first place.
Each person will have to figure out what works best for them, but for me, the system of two lists, one long-term and one short-term, were the key. Making sure I am on the right track motivates me to do the boring but necessary things, and breaking down the big issues into manageable action points means I’m more likely to move forward. Which is what this is really about, isn’t it. … Actually, one more thing: