Hello dear blog readers!
It has been a little while and it’s good to be back. The start of 2017 has included a very lovely hot and sunny holiday, new projects with various clients both new and old, 3 sick children who chose to take it in turn in order to keep me on my toes and a good few viruses caught from said children myself. As these things go, my blog was the first thing to slip... When life gets busy like that, I am so grateful to be self-employed and manage to keep everyone happy-ish and all balls in the air - without going completely crazy!
That being said, being self-employed or your own boss comes with routine challenges of its own and that’s what I want to talk about this time. How to establish the perfect daily routine for the self-employed? Of course it goes without saying that you will each have your version of the perfect routine and that these are merely my tips and observations after just over 3 years of being exclusively self-employed now.
1/ Decide where you want to work from
So this is a huge one for me these days. After spending 3 years of working from home, I decided I wasn’t feeling enthusiastic at the idea of spending another year working all alone. I had toyed with the idea of working from a coworking space before but somehow working from home always seemed more appealing. I loved the idea of not wasting time in travel, not having to uproot myself each day to get to work and of being able to be home for things such as laundry and plumbers. And moreover I was very efficient at home. To be honest I didn’t get distracted by laundry and other such domestic joys and did spend my time in front of the computer. But on January 1st 2017 somehow I felt the urge to launch into a new adventure and a new setting and have decided to go down the coworking route. I am super pumped to be writing my blog today from my very own desk in the truly awesome workspace of WeWork at Montreal L’Avenue location, only a 10 min walk from home. Maybe a time will come where I want to be working from home again but for now this is the right move for me in this new season.
2/ Start your day like you would any other workday
It might be tempting to think you can indulge in the occasional sleep in but I truly believe you have to start each day with a regular routine like a typical employee in a company. I start each day by getting up early even though I am not naturally a morning person (having kids helps!). I get dressed and do my makeup as if I’m going to be in business meetings all day. It really helps me get in gear and put my professional hat on and declare the day as working time rather than lounging around at home time.
When working from home, typically I had to go out and drop my kids off, but when I got back, I would switch into office mode. No more tidying up, no more laundry or other distractions - I would go in the kitchen and make a coffee and then straight to my computer. Usually that means I am at my computer at 8.30 am which makes me feel like I can conquer whatever is coming my way.
3/ Schedule your tasks
I like to sign off each Friday by planning out the week ahead. It’s a good little exercise that allows me to recap what I have achieved in one week and set the tone for the following week. Some might prefer to tackle that one first thing on a Monday morning, but for me, knowing that the following week is planned out allows me to relax over the week end. On a Monday morning, I typically go though my to do list again and tweak it (generally adding to it). Depending on what comes up, I try to reconfigure my schedule so that each time slot is accounted for, without over scheduling either. I also like to block out some time slots for “catching up” time in which I can either catch up on work items I haven’t managed to achieve, start a new daunting project or (and quite frankly that hardly ever happens) take some time to do something nice.
4/ Allow yourself a few breaks
As a freelancer, I am very hard on myself. Probably harder than most bosses - and from talking to various coworkers or friends, I get the impression that’s a common trait. It’s only at a real push that I take the time to meet a friend for lunch, sleep a little bit more if my kids have been up during the night, book any kind of personal appointment etc. Never mind going to the gym or something decadent like that! But I am learning that a little break here and there can be healthy. In fact when I have had some time off, I usually make my time at my desk really count and at the end of the day, I manage to get everything done. So it is my intention to add a little fun in my working day and to cut myself some slack. I suggest you try and do the same and tell me how it works for you!
5/ Leave work at work
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about the coworking space, is that on a regular weekday, I leave my computer at work. This means that when I come home to greet my kids at the end of the day, I have no choice put to leave my thoughts about work in the office. As a result, I enjoy being home more and am more focused on my kids when I am with them. When I was working from home, it was obviously harder to do as the temptation was always there to send out that last email and to make a few tweaks to such and such document. It takes strong discipline to choose not to work after a certain time, but then again, this whole freelance thing takes discipline anyway. I find that when I decide to switch the working day off when my kids get back from school (i.e. when I choose to end my day) I enjoy my time with them more and am more rested as a result.
So here are my tips for the self employed. I hope they are helpful to you. Do you have special tips you would like to share? I would love to hear them. Please comment below and share your pearls of wisdom!