Today, I was reading this hilarious article about the life of a freelancer. Could so connect with it.
Most freelancers work from home, so the mode of working is quite different from that of an office-going employee.
When I used to do a 9-to-5 job, or actually 9-to-9 job, I used to love working from home. Not everyday, but I used to crave for those one off days when I can get off the buzz of the workplace, get some time just for myself and focus on just work. In the office, we used to get pulled into meetings and trainings, which were probably needed long-term, but extremely counter-productive from the perspective of completing the task on hand. This could prove draining at times. I was doing software coding at that time; so, once I got pulled into a meeting, I would lose the train of thought on the algorithm and would feel like I’m starting all over again.
I guess this could apply to any job.
So, back in those days, I was super productive when I worked from home. Shorter coffee or lunch breaks, zero commute hours, and single focus on work has given me a lot of results at work.
Sometimes, the company would not mind me working from home, but sometimes they would not look at it positively. Like I’m trying to sneak off work. So, there have been instances when I’d take off from work, only to login from home and wrap up the task. Yeah, I was conscientious that way! Ha ha!
Fast forward a few years, I became a freelance writer, working from home everyday. This was supposed to be liberating. Complete freedom. No distractions. Just sit at the desk and get going non-stop. Maybe just pause for a loo break or a quick bite.
So, imagine my surprise when me, the same person, turned into a different kind of specimen. In the NewYorker article, I could not stop laughing at ‘I keep putting things in my mouth a lot.’ I mean, I promise I didn’t know that as a freelancer I’m going to start eating more.
And I was supposed to get way more time to exercise. But, that seems easier said than done. Mornings, I think I’ll get some work done before getting to exercise. Then, I start working and after some time feel hungry. So now I think.. Okay, let’s do the exercise in the evenings because it’s time for breakfast. Come evening, well.. similar story.
So, you get the drift.
A freelancer needs to have 2x or 3x discipline to get job done and to maintain a routine. This kind of freedom could take some time get used to.
The ONE thing that has helped me:
Carving out specific hours for work. Just like going to office, I allocate certain hours for work and certain hours for downtime. For me, my mind is more alert in the mornings. So, I can get a lot of stuff done between 9:30 am to 1 pm. After lunch, I’m usually slow for a couple of hours. During this time, I read and do other marketing stuff (building my website, emailing editors, finding new work, etc.) After 4 pm, I have personal commitments, so it’s a firm stop for the day. That rigid end-of-day timing actually helps because I know I need to get stuff done before that. It also allows me some downtime.
Of course, there are some days when things don’t work this way. For example, when I’m closer to deadlines, I toss my personal commitments aside and work through the evenings. And sometimes, when I’ve had a couple of tough weeks, I laze around the whole day. Sometimes, when I’m engrossed in reading a book, I choose not to follow any such schedule.
But, after a few erratic days, I come back to the routine. It helps me remove the ambiguity and the constant niggling feeling ‘Am I getting something done?’
So far, it has not taken the fun out of the work. What are the things you do as a freelancer to ensure that you’re disciplined?