Working for yourself may seem like a glamorous life of leisure, but it takes tireless effort to build steady income from a freelance job. Self-employment puts you in charge of every aspect of your career, and if you work from home, it's even harder to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Before you ditch your day job to start a business, follow these tips to develop good habits as a freelancer.
Create a Schedule
Making important decisions on the fly doesn't work well in a freelance job. Beyond your primary work, you have to network, market yourself, find and keep clients, meet deadlines, manage finances and handle customer service. Creating a business plan and a schedule is the most effective way to identify key priorities and stay on top of responsibilities. Otherwise, you can expect crucial tasks to slip through the cracks and keep your business from growing.
Set Boundaries With Loved Ones
Too often, friends and family believe a freelance job means you have unlimited free time to run errands for them. Just like any other job, you can't get things done if you constantly stop and start and prevent yourself from developing a work rhythm. It's okay to say no to these endless requests. Self-employment requires more work than a traditional job, and there are many days when you never seem to clock out.
Even if you keep a sporadic schedule, make it clear to friends that they shouldn't call or drop by during specific hours. Family emergencies are the only reason you should interrupt work to answer casual phone calls or text messages. For everything else, set aside time once or twice a day time to handle unimportant correspondence all at once.
Perfect Your Work Environment
Getting away from drama, politics and bad bosses is one of the greatest benefits of a freelance job. Now that you have control over your work environment, make sure it's conducive to productivity. If possible, set up a dedicated workspace with your essential work tools, so you're less likely to misplace important materials.
Get dressed every day and turn off unnecessary distractions, no matter how tempting it is to watch TV in your pajamas. When you treat a freelance job like a casual activity, it's easy to develop poor work habits that hurt your income and confidence.
Foster Hobbies and Relationships
Working for yourself can become lonely and isolating faster than you realize. One moment, you have an active life, and the next, you're spending every day in a dark room avoiding human contact. Stay connected to valued friends and co-workers for mutual support and continue going to networking events to spread the word about your freelance job.
Do yourself a favor, and get involved in a passion project, such as volunteering, to manage stress. Try to go out every day, even if it's just to enjoy a walk. Hobbies and daily exercise are an important part of work-life balance, helping you protect your mental and emotional health.
If you think you have the right qualities to start a business, take cautious steps to transition to a freelance job. With patience and planning, you can avoid pitfalls that prevent many freelancers from reaching their full potential. Current freelancers, what was the most challenging part about starting your own business? Share your experiences.
Photo courtesy of Oriflame India at Flickr.com