I’m writing this from my local coffee shop, having spent the majority of my day ticking off my to do list and scheduling content for the next couple of weeks. After an hour or two milling about in my flat finding things to eat, organise or watch, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and let you in on some of my ‘self employed secrets’ – including getting sh*t done while you’re in the comfort of your own home. We’re the first generation to really embrace the concept of freelancing and ‘working from home’; the digital sphere has really encouraged men and women to follow their dreams and undertake a role they’re wholeheartedly passionate about. Blogging and social media has definitely provided a whole new career path for many, with less focus being placed on sitting in an office from 9 until 5 Monday through Friday. Increasingly we have the freedom to work when and where we want, picking up contracts and benefiting from the outsourced workload that seems to be more and more common. The content creators of today have proven we can set our own perameters, but what you don’t often see is ‘behind the scenes’ where haven’t washed our hair in three days and our desk is covered in cereal bowls. I’ve been self employed for nearly three years and have learned many lessons along the way, including how and how not to ensure a day is as productive as possible. Here are five of my top tips, whether you’re thinking about taking some time out of the office, you’re a full time freelancer, or you simply want to know how to make your ‘blogging days’ as fruitful as you can. I hope you find them useful.
1. GET INTO A MORNING ROUTINE
Falling out of bed and faffing around for two hours is the worst way to start your day; just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can watch This Morning every day and not get cracking until the afternoon. (Although if that’s you’re bag and you’re prepared to work until midnight, knock yourself out!) Getting up and getting on with your day will ensure maximum productivity, while putting you in the mindset to work. I’m far more productive on days when I get out of bed at 8am, do a little exercise and eat my breakfast, hop in the shower, get ready and am at my desk by 930am at the latest. It’s funny how we can all make those 6am starts happen when they really need to, so don’t treat your mornings any differently just because there’s nobody to tell you off if you’re late through the office door.
2. DRESS LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO THE OFFICE
It’s easy to sit in your PJs or sling on some sweats, but your mindset really is effected by what you’re wearing. We carry ourselves differently when we’re dressed smartly, but we’re also more likely to slob about if we’re wearing a pair of leggings with a mis-matched gym top that’s seen better days. Although comfort is key, I thoroughly recommend getting dressed in a way that you wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen in if someone popped over for a cup of tea. I never used to be a jeans and jumper girl, but I’ve found it’s the ultimate combo for chucking on and still feeling good – while being comfortable enough to sit at my desk all day.
3. HAVE CLEAR OBJECTIVES AT THE START OF EACH WEEK
For the first year or so I definitely found myself floundering and forgetting to do things on a regualr basis, so writing lists and setting clear objectives at the start of each week is definitely the way forward. I start each week by writing down what I absolutely must get done that week, and prioritise my tasks accordingly; I also use Mondays to set myself up and ensure there’s content across all my channels to keep LBQ ticking over – even if I’m busy in meetings. I’ve started to keep little notebooks on my bedside table where I can write down what I need to do at the end of each day, so I can fall asleep without worrying I’ve forgotten something. Not only does this give me something to work from, but helps the quality of my slumber to improve considerably.
4. SEPARATE YOUR WORK SPACE FROM LIVING SPACE
The most important tip I can give anyone: don’t work from your sofa. Not only is this bad for your back and will inevitably mean you’re simultaneously watching telly, but it prevents you from ever fully switching off. Having a separate space in which to work is the key to success – as opening the door in the morning is a signal to start work, while closing the door at the end of the day is a great way to compartmentalise and tell your mind ‘this is me time now’. Although not everyone has the ability to have a separate room or office space, it’s definitely worth even clearing away a corner of your kitchen and setting up a clearly defined space from which to work.
5. TAKE TIME OUT FOR A CHANGE OF SCENERY
I tend to spend a couple of days a week in London, but when I don’t I do find myself going a bit stir crazy and in need of a change of scenery. I frequently pack up my bags and set up in one of the many local coffee shops near me for the afternoon, just for clarity of focus and to stop me wandering about being rather unproductive. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, I do find that working in a coffee shop helps me to double the speed by which I get things done – mainly because there are no distractions (no chocolate to eat, hamsters to play with, 90210 to watch,) and you look a bit weird if you’re not actually working. Sometimes when I have tonnes of things on my to-do list I hide out in Costa or Starbucks with a giant soy latte… And before I know it it’s nearly 6pm. Don’t be afraid to change things up; after all, laptops are portable!
Do you have any advice for those working from home, or wanting to start?
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