11 till Whenever – How to Stay Disciplined when Freelancing

Working from Home in Pajamas

The freelancing and entrepreneurial lifestyle seems like it has so many benefits like flexibility, setting your own hours, and doing your own thing. That flexibility, however, presents very real challenges to your efficiency and effectiveness. A few good habits can help you stay on track and get your work done.

Today’s post is by Ed Jones of Inspiring Interns.

To some, the freelance lifestyle sounds like paradise. Late starts, long lunches and working in your jammies? It’s the stuff of dreams. But the perks of freelancing can sometimes inhibit productivity. With no one pushing you on, how can you ensure you stay focused, determined and disciplined?

Keep Office Hours

Ditching the 9 to 5 can reinvigorate your career but it’s important not to lose the sense of structure the working day brings. Starting at 9 means you’ll be in line with most corporate clients and allows you to put down tools at a sensible hour. It’s no use starting at 3pm if you’re then working till midnight.

Keeping office hours will also help you split your time between business and pleasure. Clocking off in the early evening keeps that all important work-life balance in check.

Dress to Impress

While the thought of emails in your dressing gown sounds idyllic, dressing for business installs a sense of professionalism to your day. Even though you may not be dealing with colleagues and clients face to face, maintaining your physical appearance naturally encourages discipline.

Find a Productive Workplace

A happy workplace is crucial to any freelancer. In theory, you should be spending a fair chunk of your time there so make sure that it’s bright, airy and comfortable. If there’s not the space in your home then consider nearby cafes, libraries or open work spaces. Getting out of the house, however short the commute, can focus the mind and boost productivity.

Crucially, try to avoid working where you sleep. Waking up in your office is usually the stuff of nightmares so why put yourself through it every day?

Put the ‘boss’ in ‘be your own boss’

With no one over your shoulder, it can be easy to let deadlines slip. So make a schedule for your business targets and stick to it. While freelancing is naturally more flexible, push yourself to complete tasks within an allotted time. Allowing work to go unfinished only leads to stress and fatigue.

As well as daily targets, take time to set weekly and monthly goals. Being your own boss means your progress is in your own hands. Don’t forget to reward yourself too. Why not introduce your own personal perks package to incentivize your work?

Avoid Multi-Tasking

The temptation to run personal errands, scroll through Twitter or catch up on your latest Netflix fix is a constant niggle for freelancers. So when at your desk, focus your attention solely on work duties. Turn off any unnecessary notifications and keep distractions to a minimum. Giving yourself regular breaks will also help clear your mind and maintain discipline.

Stay Social

Lastly, remember to maintain an active social life. With no work mates around you, freelancing can sometimes feel lonely. Getting out and socializing with other human beings will boost your morale and could even lead to further work opportunities. So consider taking up a class or sporting activity. A change of scenery does any freelancer the world of good.

Ed Jones is from Inspiring Interns.

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Photo: Do you work in your pajamas all day? by Elizabeth K. Joseph

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