I taught in the school that two parallel lines meet at infinity. As a child, I was curious to know whether these two parallel lines meet. Even my algebra teacher told me they met, but I thought it was a joke because we don't know infinity. And, if the lines are parallel, then how do they meet?
Years later, I had to deal with two parallel lines viz; freelancing and time management. This has something to do with my lifestyle as well. Being a freelancer over the years, I have somewhat cooked my recipe for successful work life. And it boils down to discipline.
Most individuals will have a professional lifestyle, usually confined to the office space for 8 to 10 hours. I always loathe the idea of slogging through the clock hours to prove a point to the management. Being friends with colleagues who remained present in the office for 10+ hours made me think, that this is the only way to succeed. The work is overlooked, and the physical presence in the office environment is given importance.
Businesses' current professional approach is breeding a generation of procrastinators who will need some severe unlearning exercise over time. Because when such people get into freelancing or entrepreneurship, they will have a tough time managing their professional lifestyle. A typical freelancer will have to wake up to think beyond the usual 9 to 5 and have everyday targets.
For me, it is about just being efficient enough to wrap up 10 hours of work in 8 hours and utilize 2 hours to play video games. That's my reward personal motivation to achieve a daily milestone.
But how can you do it day in and day out? I often find friends asking me how to be so consistent in everyday tasks and yet take time out for myself.
Here's the article answering all the questions.
1. Moving beyond procrastination as a freelancer
I tried freelancing for a while a long time back and failed miserably. It is because I had no supervisors, nor was I reporting to anyone or managing a remote team of freelancers. The thought of working independently made me feel good, and I decided to start doing a lot of other things thinking that I will do the work later on.
I'd buy groceries anytime and indulge in baking and that kept work on the back foot. There were no client-imposed deadlines for the project that I took. Instead, I'd waste productive hours finding better gigs. Later, it came to a point where clients started chasing me because I could not finish the work. They were expecting the deliveries and I was way too occupied with chores that didn't matter. Damn! How wrong I was.
2. The dearth of Discipline and subsequent effects
If you are looking to be a freelancer, remember, you are your boss and have to be 10x stricter than the worst boss you worked with. This is because you have to master your success. It comes at the cost of comforts, priorities over video games and baking, and over your 'me time.'
We are so conditioned to chasing targets, obeying bosses, and choosing working comforts that a little uncertainty drives us crazy. Let not the quantity of work overpower you; instead, you strive for quality output.
Bring in a specific routine in your life and stick to it. You do routine out of compulsion, pushing you towards having Groundhog Day Syndrome. But, it becomes discipline when you follow it with passion and a clear vision.
Perhaps I wake up at 0700 hours and wrap up my workout and breakfast by 0900 to kickstart my working hours around 0915. There's no exception unless my house is on fire. I have also learned to deal with power cuts and WiFi issues by finding the nearest cafe from where I can work.
3. Integrating Time Management
A. Using the right Tools
If you can cope with procrastination and bring in discipline, congratulations. You can attempt a successful freelancing career. Still, you will need to integrate time management to come out as a winner. This is my favorite part of daily hustle because I make things happen daily by planning them. And such planning requires having the right set of tools and a good grip on using them.
I try to have more clients on a single project management tool if they aren't having any. For instance, one of my clients uses Trello, and the other uses CoSchedule. I will walk to the manager who uses CoSchedule to assign me a project on Trello or vice versa to have a clear picture in one place.
Since I have self-assigned deadlines on each project, things move fast, allowing me to stay efficient. Again, such project management tools will keep you disciplined throughout your project lifecycle.
B. Do what inspires you
Another thing that can impact the time invested in a project is how attractive the work is. I chose work that inspires me. Something that makes me wake up with pride. Such a thought pushes me to give my best every day, which plummets the delivery turnaround time.
Therefore, I'd urge freelancers to refrain from picking up the project to earn a few extra bucks because then you are prioritizing the wrong thing, which may lead to unpleasant consequences in the longer run.
C. Rewarding myself at shorter milestones.
As mentioned earlier, I reward myself with an online soccer game when I finish the task beforehand. Sometimes, even a coffee reward would charge me up. The point is, that you have to decide what the feasible outcome is in the next 30 or 45 minutes and reward yourself with something that rejuvenates you. And then put all your energy into achieving the output in the stipulated period.
Try taking a 5-minute break after every 45 minutes to scroll through memes, call a friend, or chat with someone, or even play a game of solitaire. No problem with it. That's the reward of achieving a smaller milestone. I do that because it helps me go for the kill every hour, which boosts productivity.
4. Leveraging Technology
There are digital nomads worldwide who are blending their passion for traveling with the work they love to do. Courtesy, technology. As you grow your freelancing career, you'll need to update yourself with the right tools and technology no matter where you work.
I use Grammarly and Copyscape to ease my content editing and plagiarism tasks. This is because you can't depend on dated (or lack of) technology in modern times if you want more tremendous success.
Another great idea for freelancers is to use virtual numbers to help both existing and potential clients get in touch with you quickly and discuss some urgent questions, tasks, etc. Not only does it help your clients solve their problems fast and puts you ahead of the competitors as you become a freelancer with a personal brand.
Technology doesn't stop at software but moves beyond the virtual world. You will also need to invest in picking up the right gear that amp up your freelancing career. For me, it's a wireless gaming keyboard that goes well with my MSI gaming laptop and the console chair that holds me well. Indeed, these are the things you'll need to invest in as you grow because they pay off.
When you move beyond the conventional stuff, you'll feel motivated and try to outperform your previous self just because you have better stuff now.
And then, you will need to start using social media since it's a technology that can help you reach the right people. LinkedIn and Twitter work best for networking and when you are looking for new gigs. Put yourself out in the market and test the waters now and then to stay in the game. This means you have your profile listed as a freelancer on social media, and you are promoting the sort of work you do.
Do not be shy of self-branding though I am one of them. Instead, you can get the right strategies to build a personal brand from GaryVee.
If you are still daydreaming of getting into freelancing on a full-time basis, start the side hustle. The current times are tough and I'd not recommend anyone to jumpstart their freelancing career by dropping the job. Don't overkill.
Take one step at a time. Right now is when businesses are looking to outsource work to experts, be the one.
Start your side hustle and onboard clients as much as possible by burning the midnight oil. Eventually, it will pay off. And that's where proper discipline will matter as you juggle a job with your passionate hustle and strike a balance where it matters.