It had been on my “to do” list for months to write a blog article for creative freelancers. But having my hands more than full with client work, I never got around to it. But then COVID 19 popped up ... In the beginning nothing really changed for me: I continued working on the projects that were already planned, now exclusively from my home office, without any customer visits. From that point onward, I realised how important the mix of work places and real face-to-face interaction with clients had been to me.
These exceptional times also made me realize how important a daily routine or plan is when you are working from home. I had started doing this already before the quarantine, but further fine-tuned my habits the past couple of weeks. I’ll share with you some of my personal insights and tricks, and some inspiring articles I read on this subject. But keep in mind that the most thing is to find out what works best for YOU! There’s no magic formula that applies for everyone.
How are you dealing with the current situation? What are your secrets and tricks? I’m looking forward to hear your thoughts about it!
Routine and breaks.
It sound obvious, and lots of people may have already told you so, but it really helps: routine! Get up at approximately the same time every day and have your morning routine — including breakfast, work-out, some reading, meditating, … whatever. But most importantly: get dressed :)! Really!! You can put on your sweatpants, but at least take a shower and brush your teeth ;). It helps to feel more energized and have a fresh start.
I try to do it every day, but even if it only works out 2 or 3 days a week, go out for a little “walk to work” even if it is just a short stroll around the block. It helps you to get into the work-mood and feels almost as if you were commuting to a client’s office or appointment.
Give yourself enough (planned) breaks. It can be just a break from your screens – so yes, no instagram scrolling either – but it can also be a short walk or work-out and off course SNACKS! Very important :). In these times food is maybe THE most exciting thing of the day for me ;). It’s really something I’m looking forward to all day long. So it’s important to also have some snacks during the day, apart from the main meals. Try to be creative with your snacks and find the right balance between healthy bites and sweet treats in order to stay healthy but also find some satisfaction in your food/breaks :).
Virtual check-ins / contact.
FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, … you name it. All of us have tried out at least a few of these digital tools over the past months. And I know, we all had our part of virtual check-ins, meetings and discussions. As we all realized an online meeting can be so exhausting and feels more intense than the face-to-face exchanges we used to have. So here’s my recommendation: try to keep it short and sweet.
Another important fact to keep in mind: plan regular check-ups with your team. It might sound superfluous in addition to all the meetings you already have to be part of, but in these times it’s even more important to just keep in touch and be aware of the needs or pain points of your team. Even if there’s not a lot to share, keep the reoccurring check-ups as part of your daily/weekly routine. If you are a freelancer and you don’t have a fixed team or colleagues, do regular check-ups with befriended freelancers or partners you’re regularly collaborating with. In this way you won’t get the feeling of being disconnected from the real world. Also don’t hesitate to contact your clients just to ask how they’re doing and how they are dealing with the current situation. These are challenging times for everyone, so some extra empathy and compassion is very welcome! Just be nice to one another.
Goals and motivation.
As a freelancer, being your own boss, it’s important to have a plan and set yourself goals, both short term and long term. These goals are necessary to keep yourself motivated and to feel that you’ve achieved something at the end of the day or week. It helps you to set up a framework for your workdays and create some structure or routine. For me personally, it also gives me peace of mind if I have an action plan. Then again, some days it’s also amazing to completely ignore that action plan and just do whatever you feel like or just take a day off. In the end that’s why you chose to be a freelancer, right: to be your own boss :D.
Inspiring and insightful reads.
This is a list of articles I curated around the above topics. Off course there are many more such articles to be found, but the 8 below were all in a way very helpful to me, as a remote working freelancer. I hope you will also find some fresh insights and take-aways.
Problems and solutions when working remotely.
Some interesting solutions presented by the InVision Team on the problems that people encounter when (first) working remotely. They are real experts on this matter, as all of their employees are working remotely, from all over the world.
Working From Home: A Beginner’s Guide
A quick read with 7 good tips for taking advantage of the perks of freelancing or working remotely.
How to turn working from home into working from your castle?
Great advice from the amazing Andy Wright. He’s currently managing director at the project management software company Streamtime. But most importantly he’s a very passionate advocate for well-being in the creative industry. That’s why he established the Never not Creative community, which addresses mental health in the creative industry and wants to make the industry “a better place”.
Remote Work for Design Teams
If you have some more time to dive deeper into the remote work topic, check out this extensive guide provided by the InVision Team. Chapter 4 in particular holds some good advice on remote working. Due to the current pandemic they are even more convinced: “Remote work is here for good”.
How to use solitude to your advantage?
Working remotely and working alone isn’t quite the same. Paul Jun describes four skills needed when you work in solitude.
Moo gives you 8 motivation tips for the self-employed.
Being your own boss, that sounds amazing, right? But it’s not always that easy. Moo gives some ideas on how to keep the magic going.
(GERMAN) 5 virtual exercises for remote teams in uncertain times.
One last article for the German speaking readers, around motivation, proximity, adaptability and team collaboration. Berg & Macher explain why it is so important to keep in touch with your team and do these virtual exercises with your team, even if you are all working remotely.