Managing Your Time As A Work From Home Freelancer
One of the greatest challenges of being a freelancer, particularly one that works remotely, is managing your use of time when working from home.
This has become particularly relevant lately as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the majority of workers, specifically “desk” workers, working from home. What has become clear is that working from home may become the norm for many, continuing into the future. Here I help you to set up a great work-from-home routine that will maximize productivity, lessen cabin fever, and make a work-from-home environment a positive one. Always keep in mind that your work from home set-up will need to be secure, especially if you use multiple systems and have servers to connect to. Using network security software, as well as others, from websites like https://www.fusionconnect.com/products/networking-security/sd-wan/ will help you keep that safety when working.
The first step in ensuring productivity is working from a dedicated space. I have found that a proper chair, with a proper desk, and all my necessary tools in one place, is hugely advantageous. I do not deviate from this workspace. For example, I would not move my workspace to the lounge or dining room and work with the television in the background. I also make sure that my workspace is right next to the wifi router so I have the best connection in the house. I already have a great internet connection from a company similar to Satellite internet Now (read more) so that my work proficiency is high, but staying close to the router means that I can ensure if there are any issues I don’t have to deviate from my space.
Furthermore, a dedicated space is obviously totally dependent on each person’s house-hold setup, but as much as possible, I think a dedicated workspace and area helps define, create and ensure a proper work-life balance. You need to make sure this space is comfortable which is why you might want to install an AC unit to ensure you are at an agreeable temperature year-round. With this in mind, it might be worth visiting a website like texascomfortsystems.com/our-services/ if you live in their service area.
It sounds obvious, but one of the most beneficial things I did for myself was set a schedule.
I found that it is all too easy to roll out of bed, at any time of the morning, sit at my desk and work the whole day, and before I knew it, it was dinner time. I hadn’t set aside any time for meals nor exercise, and I was now exhausted from sitting in a chair staring at a screen the whole day. Another aspect to this is how easy it then became to continue working into the evening, not allowing myself any downtime. I was then stuck in a cycle of essentially doing nothing else but working.
The key is to set a reasonable and practical schedule that allows you to be productive, but also assists you in establishing a routine, exactly if you were to be going into an office every day.
My current schedule includes the following:
- A consistent wake-up time. This is important as it is far too easy to end up lying in bed knowing you don’t have peak hour traffic to compete with;
- Starting the day with exercise. I either go for a walk or run in the park. On rainy days I train indoors. I found that making this time for activity is absolutely vital for starting my day right, and makes such a difference to how my body feels when stuck in a chair all day;
- A mid-morning break after working for around two hours, to stretch my legs and have a snack, and to give my eyes a break from my screen;
- A dedicated lunch time of at least half an hour;
- A mid-afternoon break, again, where I stretch my legs and take a break from the screen; and
- A firm end of day cut off time. I obviously don’t enforce this if I have a deadline that absolutely needs to be completed, but I have found it so important to set this boundary.
I have found that having a set schedule has made me more productive, more energized and over-all, happier.
Something that is by far one of the most challenging aspects of being a work-from-home freelancer, is juggling any distractions from being at the house. This is particularly true in the COVID era that has seen entire house-holds working from home, including children having to have their schooling from home. This is again where dedicated workspace and scheduling is important in order to juggle everyone’s needs.
This scenario saw me having to turn my schedule on its head, in order to make time to monitor my child’s schooling and resulted in me breaking my own cardinal rule of having a set end of day time, as well as a dedicated workspace as it became a Darwin-esque fight for space. However, these are unique circumstances, and once I became more accustomed to having a full house during the day I amended my schedule accordingly and got the rest of my family to follow suit.
This was particularly helpful in maintaining order, and I believe everyone felt comfortable in the schedule and knowing what each day held.
The biggest take away I have found from properly managing my work from home lifestyle is that it can be done successfully, without compromising on my energy and happiness, and most importantly, I can still maintain a work-life balance. All it takes is the self-discipline to enforce my own rules, for my own best interests.