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Working From Home Tips From Someone With Years of Experience

Working From Home Tips From Someone With Years Of Experience

With the current state of the world — thanks COVID-19, social distancing and travel bans — a lot of people are now suddenly having to do their office jobs from home. It’s weird to see videos of school teachers teaching, lawyers consulting and yoga instructors instructing all via video call. For me, this has been the norm since leaving my job in traditional publishing. It’s been seven years since I made the transition from an office space to working from home, and as impressive as it seems, it was tough to do. It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed it.

To help everyone adjust to their new reality of working from home, I thought I’d share a few tips. These are things that have and have not worked for me. Depending on your job requirements, some of my advice might not work for you. But take what you can out of this and adapt to make your transition to working from home easy.

work from home

Have Set Working Hours

It took me a few years to figure this one out, but allocate set working hours for yourself. Some of you might need to be online during a specific time, but for those who have more flexibility, I’d highly recommend having strict working hours. I have a lot of flexibility with my work, so I attempt to be behind my laptop between 10 am and 6 pm. I’ve found working later than 6 pm hinders with my mind switching off and getting a good night’s rest.

This means, not checking work emails just before bed or first thing in the morning. I know it’s tempting (I’m still guilty of this), but it helps create a healthy work/life balance. It also forms a boundary for between yourself and your boss, colleges and clients and lets them know you aren’t ‘always available’. I once had a client who would email me at 11 pm and expected an immediate reply. This was because I had previously replied to a few of his emails before I went to bed.

Create A Daily To-Do List

Working from home means no boss is lurking over your shoulder, and no manager to remind you to do tasks, it’s all on you! Productivity is vital when working from home, so it’s essential to keep yourself accountable. Within the first few months of working remotely, to-do lists became my best friend. The first thing I do on a Monday morning is sit down, look at the tasks I need to complete for the week and start allocating tasks to specific days of the week depending on their importance.

Here’s what my current to-do list looks like:

Monday
Client A – Add new content to Buffer
Client B – Add new content to Buffer
Client C – Add new content to Buffer/FB
Client D – Add content to SM Content Calendar
Client E – 2x HARO pitches 

Tuesday
Client F – Write AdWords Copy
Client G – Write copy for Shopify store x 5 hours

Wednesday
Client D – Upload SM Content To FB/Instagram
Client F – Write copy for XX page

Thursday
Client D – Write a blog post

Friday
Client D – Write a blog post
Client F – Send weekly invoice

If I’m unable to complete a task on a specific day, it falls to the next day, making the next day more full and often stressful. So I really try to complete all tasks allocated to specific days on that day. I also keep some time aside on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for any additional, once-off tasks that might come in. Additionally, I do not take on urgent or same-day turnaround work on a Monday because it is my busiest day.

Create A Dedicated Workspace or At-Home Office

If you can create yourself a dedicated workspace — a space where you can leave your laptop, notebook, and anything else to do with work. It may be your dining room table, kitchen nook, or a corner of any room in your home. This space should have a dedicated desk and chair so that if your kids, partner or roommates see you in that specific space they know its work time and you should be left alone.

Better yet, if you have a spare room in your home, turn it into an office. It took me five years to figure out that there’s nothing like having a home office with a door that can close. As a writer connecting and disconnecting with my work is often directly related to the space I’m in so having a dedicated room — yes its a major luxury — has been incredible. I love being able to close the door and not think about my client work.

Do Not Work From Your Bed/Bedroom

Speaking about workspaces, do not work from your bed or bedroom. I know it’s nice to work from bed, but there are two reasons I personally try to avoid it (unless I’m sick or having a moment in my life). The first is my back can not deal with working from bed. At first, it was all fun and games working from bed, but I’ve had severe back and shoulder issues that have popped up in the last few years.

The second reason — and this goes for working in my bedroom in general — is that I can’t seem to switch off at night. I’ve worked from my bedroom for years and always found it so difficult to fall asleep. My brain was still in work mode in that space by the time I wanted to sleep. Now that I’ve moved into my home office, my bedroom is a completely calm space, a sanctuary for sleeping. It’s the best!

Take A Lunch Break

Your lunch break is still yours, whether you’re working from home or not. It’s an hour during the workday that is entirely yours, so do your (online) shopping or take a nap (the benefits of being home). It is easy to skip this essential time of the day, but be sure to schedule it into your day.

I often skipped lunch when I first started working from home. I simply grab something to eat and have it behind my desk because it was easy. But I quickly realised that I needed that hour in the middle of the day to focus on nothing else but myself. Now, I make myself lunch and enjoy it while watching something mindless — just to give my brain a break. My afternoon productivity has improved since doing this.

Take That Sick Day

Something I learnt the hard way is that working when you sick does not end well. Your body and mind need to rest when you’re sick. Even though you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you can work through being sick.

Overall, I’ve really found it great being able to work from home. It’s made me so much more productive. It does, however, take a lot of discipline. Yes, I’ve felt lonely at times and found myself talking to my neighbour’s cat, but, the benefits are endless. For me, during the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing has changed dramatically. But for a lot of my friends and family, the adjustment has been tough.

I hope my advice on working from home can help a few of you truly get into your workflow. Keep safe everyone and don’t forget we’re all in this together (and to wash your hands).

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How Pursuing My Freelance Writing Career Helped Me Discover Happiness

How Pursuing My Freelance Writing Career Helped Me Discover Happiness

After six years of working in various 9-5 jobs, and always having a boss, I decided to take my freelance writing career into my own hands, and became self employed. For me, self employment came with a lot of fear, self doubt, and anxiety – not to mention the family concern of me not being able to support myself. Even though I was unhappy in my 9-5, and spent six months questioning quitting, my crossroads came when the magazine I was working for closed down, and I was offered a position within the bigger company that I didn’t want. It was an abrupt moment of clarity that allowed me to see that the security, stability, and monthly income that I was promised, was not permanent. So for the first time I ignored what society was telling me to do, followed my gut, and did what was best for me.

freemadic_chiang_rai_singha_park_lara_view

But it wasn’t easy, and happiness started to seem impossible. I shed a lot of tears in times of doubt, made excuses when I was afraid to take risks in my business, and was angry at myself for walking away from a ‘stable’ income. But I knew I needed to give it a chance before throwing in the towel. It took almost six months to find my feet, work out my game plan, and really focus on myself before I could truly see results. My attitude changed, life didn’t seem as boring, and I, for the first time, had the freedom to live without restrictions. Discovering my happiness was definitely a process that my freelance writing career aided. It allowed me to be brave, work harder, and listen to my inner voice without doubt. It’s an ongoing process, but here are a few of the things I’ve learnt so far that have made me the happiest I’ve ever been:

Follow Your Gut

I remember my first day at home after quitting, and the fear I had of not being able to succeed as a freelancer. Most people around me kept telling me to find another 9-5, and everything would be okay. Yes, 9-5 would give me a paycheque, but not happiness and fulfillment. I was never happy building someone else’s dream at the expense of not following my own. I didn’t want to be stuck in a system where employment is given to me just as fast as it can be taken away. I needed to stop and listen to my gut before listening to anyone else’s advice. And my gut was screaming at me saying, “If you don’t like doing something, why do you keep on doing it?” So I stopped applying for 9-5 jobs, focused on applying and improving my existing skills, and started offering my services as a freelance writer and editor.

No More Excuses

If you want to quit your job, freelance, start a business, and live your best life, then stop dreaming about it, and start taking action. Yes it does come with risks that you can constantly convert into excuses, but honestly what’s the worst that can happen? For six months before leaving my job, I came up with every excuse in the book – I wanted to save more money, wait till my car had been paid off, and wanted to find freelance clients while working a 9-5 job (which my job did not allow). I made all these excuses because I was scared to step out of my comfort zone, afraid of the unknown, and being a failure. As soon as I stopped making excuses and started doing the things that scared me, my mindset shifted. Instead of being afraid of failure, I started seeing challenges, and opportunities to succeed.

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See Failure As A Lesson

During the first year of my freelance writing career I saw every client I didn’t get, and every project I lost as a major failure! I felt like all my hard work resulted in nothing, and that society was right by saying I needed to get a 9-5 job. After losing my only client at the time because he found someone cheaper, I realised that it wasn’t personal. The client didn’t let me go because he didn’t approve of my work, but  because of his own budget, and my need for a liveable income. I soon started seeing “failures” as stepping stones, each with their own unique lesson. Lessons are there to be learnt from, and if we only see the failure in everything, we’ll never learn.

Today, two and a half years later, I’ve realised that making the shift from formal employment to freelancing has empowered me, and it has let me take charge of my own life and happiness. It has been a process that has included a lot of realisation, an attitude adjustment, and ongoing work on myself and my business. You only have one life and it’s up to you to make it the best life. If you’re not happy where you are, then move – you are not a tree!

5 Benefits of Being Self Employed

5 Benefits of Being Self Employed

Back in 2008, after finishing my business science and marketing degree, and spending a year working and travelling in Australia, it was time for me to launch and build my career. I started working at an online agency which I enjoyed, but after having a taste of formal employment and the 9-5 routine, I quickly decided that it wasn’t for me. After just two weeks, I quit, and started pursuing my own path.

Freemaic - Koh Samui Dream Office

Not settling for a traditional 9-5 job, and deciding to become my own boss was one of the toughest yet best decisions I’ve ever made. I went on to start Posmay Media – a digital media agency that specialises in web development and online marketing services – which I still run today.

Eight years later and I’ve done a lot, launched a lot, failed a lot, but most importantly learnt a lot. I’ve also enjoyed the multiple benefits of being self employed, and in this post I share the five major benefits of being or becoming self sufficient in your career.

1. Owning Your Own Time

Having the freedom to not only live on the weekends is something most people only dream about. Being able to create your own schedule and work routine let’s you design and live your ideal lifestyle. You get to decide when you’d like to work and how much you’d like to work.

For me owning my own time means that I have complete freedom, but I also have the responsibility to be disciplined and make the right decisions. I get to allocate my time based on my personal priorities which include focusing on growing my business, helping my clients, spending time with family and friends, travelling the world, educating myself further and pursuing my hobbies. When the waves are great, then I can go surfing or skimboarding, when I feel burnt out or exhausted, I can take a break, and when a family member or friend visits the town I’m in, then I can take time off to spend with them. Having this flexibility increases my quality of life and opens up a world of opportunities.

Freemaic - Skimboarding Camps Bay

2. Doing The Work You Love

Being self employed let’s you focus on your strengths, and on doing your best work. Combine what you love, what you’re good at, and what people are willing to pay you for and you’ve got a winning formula. Initially it’s all about generating the income you need to pay your bills, but once that’s done you can explore further. You can try something new or improve your skills in something you’re already good at.

For me it all started with writing, recording, and performing music throughout high school and university. The band that I had created was a real life project that let me test, explore and learn. I learnt as much as I could about the music industry, music distribution, digital recording, the Internet, online publishing, and online marketing. I also launched various passion projects on the side that let me test new ideas and acquire new skills. I enjoy working at the intersection where creativity meets business – where the suit meets the artist – as I am essentially both. Learning by doing has let me explore my own creativity while acquiring valuable skills that I use on a daily basis to help and empower my clients.

Freemaic - Spratch on Stage

3. The Freedom to Build Your Own Dream

Being employed by a company that you admire is great, however having the freedom and taking the risk to create something that you own and believe in takes it one step further. If you don’t focus on building your own dream, then someone else will hire you to build theirs.

Over the last eight years I’ve explored various areas of online business and online marketing. Positive Mayhem was the brand I created to self publish my bands’ album ‘On The Rise’. Positive Mayhem quickly evolved and became Posmay Media which today is my primary business. I’ve also developed SkimZA, which is a website dedicated to promoting skimboarding in South Africa, as well as an online store that sells imported skimboarding gear in South Africa. One of my latest projects is Freemadic which is an online resource to document our personal journey and help others find explore beyond their boundaries, find true freedom and live an inspired life on their own terms.

4. Opportunity For Growth

Owning your own time also gives you the opportunity to spend time on self development and learning more about topics that interest you. In my spare time I consume strategic content and attend events to expand my knowledge and understanding of topics that interest me, and that can help me reach my next goal. Content that I learn from includes blog posts, eBooks, webinars, YouTube videos, online courses, as well as conference keynotes and mastermind groups. I’m constantly learning and growing – acquiring the skills and knowledge that I need to help myself and my clients enhance their online marketing efforts to succeed online.

Freemaic - Plitvice Lakes

5. Uncapped Income

In most cases when working for someone else you’ll be paid a monthly salary with employment benefits. Based on the performance of the company, your salary will increase every year, and if you’re lucky you might get a bonus. Some specific positions may also offer performance based incentives – for example getting additional bonuses for reaching sales targets. Being self employed, your income depends entirely on you and your company – based on how much you work and what you are selling. Work hard and smart and you will be rewarded, and without a monthly safety net comes limitless income opportunity.

In 2014/15 I spent a lot of time travelling and exploring new countries in Southeast Asia. This was a very exciting time, but it was also a very disruptive time. I struggled to focus on my primary business, which led to a drop in my income. I’ve since learnt a lot about finding an effective balance of working and travelling, and have restored my income to where it used to be and am working on increasing it even more.

6. The Opportunity To Work Remotely

At first thought the opportunity of working from anywhere might only be available to those that work online, however this is not the case. No matter what your business is there is always an option to scale and expand. You can build a team, bring in additional management to free up your own time. By creating processes and delegating effectively you can set up your business to operate without you being present, which gives you more freedom and the opportunity to work from anywhere.

Freemaic - Koh Samui Dream Office

Being able to work independently online has given me the opportunity to work from anywhere – as long as I have my mobile office and a reliable Internet connection. This has enabled me to live my dream of travelling the world, while still building a business and generating income. In 2011 I spent 5 months in the US, meeting and skimboarding with some of the best riders in California. This past year (2014/15) I spent 9 months travelling exploring Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Croatia and Germany.

Self employed and living the digital nomad lifestyle is definitely not for everybody, but if you have an itching desire to realise a bigger dream, then I encourage you to start your journey today.

If you have any questions please share them with us on Twitter (@FreemadicLife) or on our Facebook page.

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