As freelancers or independent workers we sometimes get caught up in work, and often the lines of normal life and work life start to meld together.
This is only sustainable for a certain amount of time before you realize you’re just living in the short moments around work. It should really be the other way around.
That’s why we are freelancers, right? We’re the few smart ones that got away from the corporate cube?
As part of my goals for 2013, one of them is to work less and earn more. To accomplish this I started integrating certain things into my daily routine to make myself more proficient when working.
Here are a few tips to help you get started un-melding (is that even a word?) the 2 forces of life and work.
1. Get dressed
Routine is great and even if its just trivial like not working in sweatpants to getting full out dressed in the whole getup like you’re off to work somewhere.
Plus this is a great segway if you have access to coworking or don’t mind coffee shops. I will sometimes in the middle of the day just feel like working somewhere else, so its good to already be dressed.
Which leads me to my next two tips…
2. Work somewhere else
Most of us probably work from home which in theory sounds amazing. It’s usually not though. Distractions are everywhere and it’s easy to get caught up doing work at odd times or late into the night. (I’m guilty of this!)
There’s few reasons not to find a coworking space or even hit a coffee shop or restaurant you like. Another developer and I will often work from a kabob place and flip flop between that and the Starbucks next door. Obviously support the places you’re working out of, you are making money while using their space.
Protip: Shut the laptop while you eat. Don’t make a habit out of eating and working at the same time.
Protip #2: Making friends at your usual spots generally leads to free coffee and food.
Coworking spaces are popping up everywhere, but if you need to find one check out DeskWanted – it’s the best coworking search I’ve seen.
Plus they were awesome enough to hook me up with these coffee mugs, so I got mad love for DeskWanted. :)
3. Keep a bag ready to go
I realize not everyone wants to buy spare cables and adapters just so they don’t have to crawl under the desk if they decide to go somewhere, but I find it makes it easier to convince myself to get out of the house… or maybe I’m just lazy?
Things I keep in my bag:
- iPhone cable
- Macbook charger
- Monitor adapters
- Earbuds – full on headphones if you like to really zone in!
- Pens & misc bits
- Protein bar (or some kind of small sustenance)
It’s really not much and all I have to do is toss in my laptop and roll.
4. Unplug OFTEN
If you’ve seen any of my talks you know I’m big on unplugging. There is a reason I talk about it so much. It’s crucial for mental health.
Sometimes I’m just “not feeling it” during a work day. That’s my body and mind telling me I need to get out of there. I need new surroundings or to unplug completely. People deal with this differently, I usually go for a drive or hit the gym. It gets my mind off of work and I come back way refreshed and ready to crank out some work.
Often I end doing twice the amount of work in half the time. Truth.
Taking it a step further…
5. Force a Vacation
Let me start by saying WordCamp’s and other industry conferences or events, no matter how far away, are NOT a vacation. You’re still surrounded by the same industry you work in everyday and often times the same people you interact with via social media.
Just because you’re not doing work, doesn’t mean you’re not working!
I’m talking about a real vacation. Like it’s too expensive to use your phone to get on twitter kinda vacation. One where you truly have to disconnect and… *gasp* enjoy yourself.
I know it can be real tricky taking time off when you have multiple projects going, but few things rival a full on vacation and unplug from the social sphere which is the internets.
ProTip: Find someone you trust who can handle emergency work. Pay them their regularly hourly for anything that pops up and explain to clients they are only to be contacted if shit hits the fan – otherwise it can probably wait until you return.
Schedule well in advance and remind your clients who to contact if SHTF. Now try not to check your e-mail!
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