As of 2019, I am an official freelancer. While it can be intimidating, I’m ready for the challenge. As a freelance consultant, writer, and model, my work crosses a variety of industries and work types. While most of it is online, I am grateful for the additional modeling and translating opportunities in Cuenca that get me in new environments.
Working remotely definitely isn’t for everyone, but it definitely is for me. Here’s where I stand on basic issues revolving around being freelance/remote:
- Financial standing. I am living in a low-cost economy, saving up money for a high-cost economy with a potential move back to the motherland.
- Interest in multiple areas. Working freelance let’s me target the type of work I’m interested. I really enjoy switching it up and touching a variety of industries (business development, travel, nonprofit, just to name a few).
- Time flexibility. Not only can I pick the hours I want to work during the day, I also get to frontload my hours to make up for travel days or long weekends. Score.
- Learning curves. As I work through a career transition, I am fortunate to have the time to be learning new skills and putting them into practice.
- Life balance. This past year I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (a thyroid autoimmune disorder). Working from where I want gives me the relax time + opportunity to eat home cooked meals that can help heal the gut and boost adrenals.
- Environment switch up. My personal work style is the most productive when I can switch up my environment. Instead of sitting at the same desk 9-5 and suffering from brain farts, I can decide to move where I want when I need an energy boost. Luckily we live in a climate where working outdoors at a cafe is a daily reality all year long.
Working remotely whether full or part-time (shout out to you side hustlers) can be heaven sent should you do it right. I can’t say I’ve mastered the art, but here are some lessons I’ve learned in the process:
Don’t sit still!
Being out of the 9-5 routine means you are actually allowed to move around. One of the habits that helps me the most is switching up my environment whenever I start to have an energy slump, whether that means a different part of the house or a public place.
Don’t get too comfortable
Personally, if I get too comfortable I decide that a nap is a good idea. My personal rule is no couch/bed time after noon (unless I have a new cup of coffee). Sitting up straight or standing let’s the blood flow so the work will get done! For those who really need a clean space to focus, having a dedicated office space within the home is a huge bonus.
Be careful that costs don’t add up
Working from home certainly saves dough if you were a commuter, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t spend too much eating out. Do a cost analysis of local cowork spaces and see how that lines up against cafe hopping. I haven’t found a cowork space I vibe with yet, so I work from home and cafe hop. However, I keep a cafe budget to make sure I don’t spend too much out. My go-to habits are to eat at home before heading out so I can just order a coffee out and pack a homemade power bar or banana just in case my energy crashes. I try to limit one breakfast or one lunch out during the work week for financial and health reasons.
Disclaimer here, I’ve been a barista and know that taking up a table for a $2 coffee can be rude. Be sensible here. If you’re at a busy cafe, notice if other folks are waiting for tables. If no one is waiting for a table, as a long-time barista, I think you’re ok. Tip your barista. If you are staying 3+ hours, it would be smart to order something.
Track your time.
If you’re working on multiple contracts, you’re likely bouncing back and forth without really realizing what time you’re spending on what. Do what it takes to make that change. Make a schedule or set a timer. This will help not only to plan your work days and various projects more effectively, but also to get a better idea of a project-based hourly rate.
Track your income.
It is easy to deposit the checks and not do a real analysis of what you’re making until the year’s end. Taxes are real and we’ve all got to prepare for them. I personally love the Mint app which you can use to track your income and your expenses. Budgeting is key!
Set goals one way or another.
I’m a super fan of the Cultivate What Matters goal organizer. One way or another, get your goals out of your head and written in a concrete way! Whether hand written in a journal or post-its or typed on excel or a brainstorm document, do it. I recommend making big goals and breaking them down into sub-goals. What do you want to do in the next month? Three months? Six months? Include all facets of life – relationships, hobbies, health, finance, travel, faith, etc! The Cultivate What Matters blog is stocked full of great advice.
Consider the impact of paid versus unpaid work.
I’m a big promoter of doing work that contributes to the betterment of the world. Depending on your industry, that can be easier said than done. However, volunteering doesn’t mean you have to go straight to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Reach out to these entities and see how your professional services could be of benefit to social services. Most nonprofits don’t have the budget for marketing, writing, graphic design, web development, and the list goes on! Remember that nonprofits operate as a business and a wide variety of skills can help push their missions forward!
Don’t get lonely.
While we don’t want to be distracted in our work, it’s really easy to isolate ourselves real quick, especially if most work is being done at home. This is different for working parents who have mastered the balance of having kids at home and getting work done. My fiancé goes to the office every day and I decide where I want to work each day. Finding work buddies who are in the same zone as you is stellar. You can cafe hop together, but also have respect for one another’s work. My work buddy and I know not to interrupt each other, and both wait until we are in a nice pause moment to socialize.
Set daily routines to your liking.
Wile being flexible is awesome, it is also easy to get too flexible. Setting a daily routine helps give you the regularity you need to stay on track. Mine includes an arrangement of exercise, home cooked meals, and timing my coffee right. Whether you like to meditate, run, watch the news, etc, those habits can help you establish a sense of normalcy.
If you work remotely and have extra tips, I want to hear about them! What works for you? What doesn’t? Let’s knock out the work remotely flow strategy together.