Working from home is both a privilege and a challenge. When you add two young daughters into the mix, it can be a nightmare. But, thankfully, I'm not the first to travel down this road. There are key habits I've adopted over the past few years that have proven instrumental in my success. My clients regularly comment that I produce more, and am more available than many of their in-office employees.
I love my work and lifestyle because it gives me freedom. I get to choose my projects, set my desired income and compete against others to score contracts. The only limit to my potential is my ingenuity, drive and focus. I wouldn't have it any other way.
But, if you're considering jumping out of the office and into the frying pan that is freelancing, I recommend taking these suggestions to heart.
1. Set Dedicated Work Hours
If nothing else, you need some semblance of structure in your daily life. You need to be in "work-mode" during the same set of hours every day. For me, those hours are from 5pm to 10pm. No matter my workload, I am in work-mode during those hours. And yes, I usually work way more than 5 hours in a given day, but having that set time-anchor gives me some structure and allows me to maintain a sleep schedule (sometimes).
2. Create a Work Boundary with Family
Kids and even husbands have a hard time recognizing when it is and isn't okay to ask a quesiton and disrupt my workflow. For me, I picked up a pair of Beats headphones. Not only do they block noise, but they are very noticeable. The rule in my household is that if my headphones are on my head, mommy is only available for emergencies.
Over the time I have considered hiring a desk at a co working space in my city centre, but again most of the co working spaces are based on open plan offices, which can cause productivity drain. The alternate best solution I had in my mind was to setup a small home office, with do not disturb sign and ever since I setup a small office space in the house, my productivity increased.
3. Create a Savings Plan
Being completely independent comes with some serious responsibilities; chief among them is the financial wellbeing of my family. If I fail to set aside an emergency fund, or plan for retirement, I'll be a burden on those around me. According to Nicole Prati of VL, you must
...force yourself to automatically contribute to a savings account. Ideally, at least 10% of your income should be withdrawn automatically into a savings account.
For me, that percentage is even higher during high-volume months.
4. Exercise Three Times a Day for 5 Minutes
I try and make one of these drills a full workout, depending on how hectic my day is. Breaking away from the laptop and couch a few times a day to go for a walk helps to clear my head. Depending on how aggressive I feel, I can walk, run, do jumping jacks, jump in the pool; whatever I need to do to get moving and oxygenate my brain.
5. Find Healthy Sources of Caffeine
As much as I'd like to say I'm totally caffeine-free, I just have too much going on in my life to forego the wonder drug. Although, I have changed where I get my caffeine fix; switching from coffee to green tea was one of my biggest breakthroughs. Green tea has a variety of advantages over coffee because it contains Theanine.
According to Wise Toast,
...Theanine forces the neurotransmitter, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) into activity, which addresses how muscles react to a situation. GABA also promotes dopamine and serotonin to react. Dopamine and serotonin are the neurotransmitters in the body that are related to pleasure.
For me, drinking green tea results in a feeling of clarity and focus that is far superior to the jittery spark of energy that coffee creates.
If you're ready to take the plunge and work for yourself, you need every advantage in your corner. It's a tough journey, full of ups and downs. But, what you give up in security, you gain in opportunity. I've seen how my daughters look up to me. They understand that I am fighting a war to build a business and give them the future they deserve. I will not let them down, and I hope you'll make the same commitment to your journey towards independent living!