10 lessons I learned from being my own boss
1. Freelance guilt is real, very real.
Now I don't know if this is an official term but it works. After speaking to a few other freelancers and people who are self-employed I realised I wasn't alone. So what is freelance guilt? Well, it's basically when you feel like you should be doing more with your time. For example, if you take a day off in the middle of the week because you worked over the weekend, or if your schedule isn't the normal Monday - Friday 9am till 5pm or if you are not hustling every second of the day you start to have a guilt like feeling. But what I realised is, it is ok and all that is happening is we are removing the conditioning from our lives and minds of how we have previously worked to a new way of working.
So if you are still going through the freelance guilt phase just remember you are doing enough. What we have to do is recondition ourselves to a new way of working; flexible working. We deserve a better work-life balance without the guilt. Just because others are working the usual work routine and you aren't, doesn't take away the fact that you work any less harder. You've set your life up so that you can choose how and when you work and you should not feel guilty for what society proclaims as normal.
2. Establish a clear morning and evening routine. Give back to you.
Freelancing, self-employed or being your boss can mean that you don't shut down from your business, jobs, emails or your phone. This is where your morning and night time routine comes in. Both of these parts of your day should be for you and only you, so set time aside to wake up and wind down in a way that gives back to you, your mind, body and soul. Remember you can't give from an empty cup.
3. If you can't work in your office change your enviroment.
When I began my self-employed journey I had this idea that my office area would be my favourite place to work but I realised it was the place I procrastinated the most. Now, I've discovered that I am the most productive when I can sit in a cafe, quiet pub (Fridays only) or co-working environment with my headphones on. When I work in these spaces it's like my mind is focused to work, the downside is you can spend a bit too much money as adverse to being at home but again it is understanding what works for you and your work life. Discover your balance.
4. Find people in similar situations to you.
Lucky for me I had a few friends making similar decisions as me in their lives so we took this opportunity to work together. It helped aid any problems we were facing and we were able to be there for each other. Whether this is real life or online, find people that are in similar situations to yourself. This can be people you admire or online mentors, (side-note if you don't know how to get an online mentor, let me help you. Have a read here.) This has been so important for me because not only does it help with the fact you are stepping into something new but it shows you that other people are on the same journey or further ahead to inspire you. Also don't be afraid to reach out to these people, message them, if you like their work, share it, and all that good social stuff.
5. Create your own schedule.
Remember you don't have to work Monday to Friday if that doesn't work for you. It's great for you to have a structure but I realised that I like to work on a Sunday, feels like it gives me a head start to get everything in order before the week officially begins and then I realised I need a mid-week break. I noticed I need to refuel from sometimes late nights and longer than normal working hours, so because of this I normally give myself Wednesday off. This is me listening to myself and what I need to perform, create and be my best self in work and in my life.
6. A plan is your best friend.
The most productive days I have are ones where I have a plan. It took time for me to adjust to being my own manager and project manager, client liaison and so much more. I would think a certain job would take 30 minutes when in fact it will take a couple of hours. So after learning and monitoring how long I take to complete tasks I now can efficiently make a weekly plan followed by a day to day plan. Also, I want to express that if you don't complete your list that is fine, don't focus on what isn't completed, focus on what is.
7. Always have your laptop.
Yeah so this might actually seem like a no-brainer but since we are all about transparency here, let me admit when I first started freelancing I didn't carry my laptop and on a few occasions I needed it because I had an impromptu meeting or someone cancelled when I was already out and about. Now, I carry my laptop everywhere. You have to stay ready and your time is precious so you don't want to lose a few hours of potential work.
10. Get organised.
I’ve learned that organising is one of favourite things to do; categorising, colour coordinating, filling my emails and oh, excel sheets. It's so important to stay on top of everything. Now you are self-employed, set up a structure as early as possible that allows you to keep your inbox and spreadsheets organised.