A Simple Solution to Some Common Dilemmas for Freelancers

It wasn’t too long ago when I sat in my icy cold office, slowly chewing the paperwork elephant, thinking that my home is far more comfortable and I’d get so much more work done there. The daydreaming extended to how much healthier I would eat and how much more time I would have to exercise and work on the various little arts and crafts projects I had around the house. What I conveniently forgot, however, was what happened when I was on leave. The first week of leave I would spend cleaning out cupboards and rearrange the house. The second week was spent cleaning up the mess I made the week before because I simply had to have everything perfect. When I finally mustered up the courage to head out on my own, there were a few things I wasn’t quite prepared for.

Dilemma 1:  I Wish I Knew What I was Going To Spend a Large Chunk of Time On

The amount of guilt that assails me when my husband comes home, or anyone comes to visit and the house isn’t spotless, is ridiculous. But I can’t help it. This was the way I grew up and even though I’ve calmed down a few notches, the things that are a little out of place in the house have the potential to completely derail a productive working day. I just HAVE to do it, or else I keep thinking about it.

The Solution: I’m considering renting an office so I’m not as distracted by all the things that need to be done at home. For the time being, I give myself 1 to 2 hours max to sort out daily cleaning tasks. Also, timing myself has made the world of difference.

Dilemma 2: That I Knew How Little Friends and strangers Were Going To Take My Job Seriously

I work from home, therefore, I have the freedom to do this, go there, sort this out, visit this person, etc. But what friends and family don’t realize is that I also have deadlines, pressure, bills, and more. It took a very long time to convince people I was serious about this. The only way I seemed to convince people that I’m not a starving artist, is by telling them what I earn. Which is a little yucky, but it was effective.

The Solution: I tell people that I own a content business as opposed to telling them I’m a freelance writer. This seems to translate a little better.

Dilemma 3: The Freedom of the Schedule is Dangerous

One of the things I was most afraid of before I started working on my own, was that I wasn’t going to be disciplined enough to the work required in order to pay my bills every month. In other words, I was scared of becoming a lazy couch potato who did nothing but watch Jane Eyre and play Sims. But the opposite happened: because I now have all this time in my diary, I overcommit. I book jobs I can hardly finish and I still have social commitments to take care of. On top of that, I want to spend as much time with my beau as possible. This causes burnout and I would advise against it. Sure, you make A LOT of cash, but you’re stressed all the time.  

The Solution: Get a diary. Mark your social commitments, your projects, and your budget. Stick to your diary and don’t accept more social arrangements than you can handle, but in the same breath, don’t neglect your family and friends either.

Dilemma 4: Working on the Internet Can be a Distracting Business

I can’t count the number of times I was in the middle of research for an article, and something else catches my attention. Before I know it, I’ve learned a spoof version of the Indian alphabet where Z is for Zooperman. I also happen to know what baby llamas look like when they’re wet. So this is why they invented amazing programs such as Toggl. So I can see just how time goes down the internet rabbit hole. If you’re not sure how productive you are, perhaps take a minute or two and have a look at your browser history. This was my first rude awakening.

The Solution: Keep the focus by making yourself accountable. Give yourself a set timeframe to complete a project and this becomes a little easier to manage. Time management software and diaries are amazing such as Toggl and Trello.

Dilemma 5: Learn About Business Management As Soon As You Can

In school, we learn about the French Revolution and how X and Y become C. But no one tells you how to do your taxes or complete a budget. So when you’re kicked out on your gluteus maximus you’re expected to know these things.

The Solution: Get out there and take the initiative to learn:  

  • Making use of the services of a tax specialist or accountant.
  • Joining business forums and networks that expose you to other business owners.
  • Sign up for business short courses (there are a gazillion free ones on the internet!).
  • Be proactive and keep all your documents in order. It’s also time to keep all those receipts in a file. Because life.
  • Find out whether there is an insurance that can cover your business, such as a liability cover. Well, again, because life.