Working from home with a freelance business sounds like a dream come true for many people. For anyone who has never experienced it before, they imagine a life of waking up at noon, lying around in pajamas, and typing on a laptop. The reality is drastically different than the dream. It truly can be a challenge, because it has its own set of unique issues that will present themselves in daily life. After the Covid-19 pandemic, more people than ever are now working from home, or have switched to being a freelancer. If you’re still struggling with the freelance life, check out these tips on how to level up.
10. Create a Designated Home Office Space
A study by the UN International Labor Organization shows that people who work from home experience a huge spike in insomnia. This is because when we work from home, our brains have difficulty distinguishing between “work space” and “relaxation space”. Normally, when you drive to an office, you know that is your work space. And your mind immediately relaxes when you come home, because that is your place of rest. There is a clear dividing line between your physical space, time, and mental state.
But if your home is your work space, it will be nearly impossible for your brain to know when it’s time to work, and when it’s time to relax. For some people, you may become a bit lazy, and your brain will be in non-stop relaxation mode. But if you are a workaholic, it will be hard for you to get a good night’s sleep, or give yourself permission to ever stop working. This is why typing on your laptop in bed or setting up your desk in your bedroom is a bad idea. If you have an extra bedroom, set it up like your home office. Or, at the very least, sit down at your kitchen table with your laptop, and avoid working from bed whenever possible.
9. Dress for Success
When you work from home, you can wear anything you want. And for the first few days after handing in your letter of resignation, you may be tempted to wear pajamas 24/7, because you can. However, just like the division between physical spaces, our mind and body associate certain clothes with our mood, as well. It is crucial for you to get showered, dressed, and get ready as if you are going to work. (Because you are! Even if “work” is just a few steps from the bathroom.)
We’re not saying that you should wear an uncomfortable suit or dress just to sit at your desk alone all day. That’s just silly. Wear clothing that is comfortable, but still presentable. Remember that even though you work from home, you still have to interact with the world when you go on errands, out for lunch, or Skype calls.
8. Find a Co-working Space
After trying to work from home, you may truly find it next-to-impossible to concentrate. Going to the library or a cafe is a good option for giving yourself time out of the house. But unfortunately, it may not be the quietest place to get things done, either, and it can often be even more distracting than just trying to summon the willpower to continue working at home.
Co-working spaces are businesses that provide desks for people to work in peace, in exchange for a monthly fee. They usually have different price points, depending on the amenities you get. For example, you might only pay $100 a month to take your laptop to whatever desk happens to be open that day, or $300 a month for a private office. Most people who pay for these spaces are in the same boat as you, so they respect each other’s need for peace and quiet. But there are also networking events where you can meet local entrepreneurs, as well.
7. Don’t Skimp on the Tech and Your Website
Stay-at-home entrepreneurs still have to communicate with people in the outside world. You are most likely speaking with clients through your smartphone and the computer. Make sure you have a high speed internet connection, and a computer that can handle the work you are doing. Upgrade to the newest operating system, so that your browser and various software can run properly. Anyone who works in video or photo editing may also need a computer with fast processing speed, and tons of space.
Remember that unlike buying the newest cell phone or computer just because you want it, getting new tech for your business is not “spoiling yourself”. It may increase your productivity tenfold if you can get things done faster. If you find that having outdated technology is holding you back from getting your job done, it may be time for an upgrade. The good news is that this is an investment towards your business, and you can usually write it off on your taxes.
6. Create a Proper Schedule
Technically, if you work from home, you can wake up anytime you want. This is an amazing luxury to have on days when you feel sick. But try not to get in the habit of sleeping in every single day. If you want to be productive, wake up with an alarm, just like you would with a normal job. Give yourself work hours, a lunch break, and a time when it is appropriate for you to stop working.
If you have children, or a spouse who still runs on a normal work schedule, this can help keep you on a schedule, because you can wake up when they do, and stay awake. When you know that there is only a certain amount of hours left before the kids get off the school bus, it’s a great motivator to get your work done within that time window.
5. Buy a Planner
Nowadays, there are tons of different apps that will help you plan your life, but there is something truly wonderful about a physical paper planner. If you are feeling fancy, you can splurge on something like an Erin Condren planner. But if you are looking for more affordable options, Michael’s Craft Store has an entire aisle dedicated to nothing but planners. Typically, they go on sale just after New Year’s.
4. Build an Outdoor Office Shed
Take this advice with a grain of salt, because building an outdoor office will set you back a couple thousand dollars. For most people, it’s completely unattainable, especially if they don’t have a backyard in the first place. However, you might truly struggle with distractions around the house. And maybe you want your privacy, or you simple do not want the inconvenience of going to the library, cafe, or an office space. A solution to this problem is transforming a garden shed into an office space.
Home Depot and Lowes sell prefabricated sheds that can be delivered to your home. The cost of the shed itself is only the beginning, because you aren’t storing old boxes and bicycles in there. You need to be able to comfortably get your work done, so it will take even more time and money to improve the state of the shed to make it liveable. If this is something you would consider, check out YouTube and Pinterest for inspiration.
3. Make a Freelance Business Plan
Plenty of people who work from home don’t think it’s necessary to make a freelance business plan when they are just a company of one. But since you no longer have a boss or an HR department giving you a progress report once a year, creating a business plan will help keep you on track. You can always go back to it for reference to gauge your own success.
What are your goals in six months, one, year, and five years? How long are you willing to go on one direction before you need to see results? When is it time to pivot? On top of your goals, you should try to plan out how you will get there. Figure out what you need to buy, or which people you need to collaborate with to get these goals done.
2. Apply For Business Working Capital
After making your business plan, there are probably a few items on your list that would truly would help accelerate your business to the next level, if only you had the money to do it. If you have been in business for at least a year, working capital might be a great option for you. Kabbage is a loan company that analyzes your income from PayPal, bank deposits, eBay, Etsy, Google Adsense, and just about any way you can make money online. Once it sees how much money you are making, they will give you a quote on how much you can borrow.
Instead of paying interest like a bank loan or credit card, you pay a one-time fee, and the loan is split up into 6 or 12 months. Speaking from personal experience, this is actually a great way to pay off debt fast. Just make sure to play around with their payment calculator, so that you know with total certainty that you can afford the monthly payment in your budget. For the sake of transparency, we get a perk if you get a Kabbage loan using this affiliate link, but you get a $50 gift card too, just for signing up. So it’s really a win-win-situation.
1. When You Have a Freelance Business, It’s Crucial to Stay Organized
The most important tip for working at home is to stay organized. Your physical and digital work space should both be clutter-free in order for you to be as productive as you possibly can be. If you are an artist, or you need physical items to get your job done, supplies should be clearly marked, and easy for you to find. If you want some inspiration, check out Casey Neistat’s film studio. On your computer, you can stay organized by creating folders on your desktop to hold important files, and use free programs like Google Docs and Google Sheets to plan out your workflow and progress.