It’s all very well to make resolutions about forming new habits, but perhaps you should focus on breaking those bad freelancing habits that, deep down, you know you already have…
You know there’s work to be done, but suddenly you have a desperate need to ring your Uncle Bill, hang out that load of washing before another second of sunshine goes to waste and walk to the shop for something you don’t need.
Have working hours – and stick to them.
Save chores, housework, phone calls and that fun thing you were ‘just going to look up quickly’ on the internet for break time.
Take regular breaks and/or promise yourself a break after you’ve hit a certain target.
Make yourself accountable by setting yourself goals and telling others about your intentions.
Remind yourself that starting is the hardest part.
Perhaps you felt, when you started freelancing five years ago, that you were at the top of your game. Is that still true?
Keep up to date with developments in your field. What are your competitors up to?
An employer would expect you to keep your skills updated, and to add to your skill set. You ARE your employer now, so ensure you refresh your skills through self-study or taking a course.
Few of us thrive on constantly being alone. It can affect our mood, our health, our ability to work and our ability to relate to others. It can also keep us out of the loop in our industry, meaning we miss opportunities.
Ensure you regularly make time to socialise and network with friends and colleagues, and also make sure these activities aren’t all Social media and the internet can be a godsend for freelancers, but they can also be a distraction – and they shouldn’t be used to replace face-to-face interaction completely.
Don’t underestimate the importance of socialising – social skills are vital when interacting with clients, whether face-to-face, by phone or via video-conferencing. By regularly meeting with others, you’re keeping these skills sharp.
You put your work at risk
Do you work mainly online? Do you keep paper and computer records on customers, clients, suppliers and orders? You do? And when was the last time you backed up your work and data?
Back-up important data on to at least one, and preferably two, of these: a portable hard drive; a separate server; a memory stick; the Cloud.
Put time aside at least once a week to do your back-ups, or set up an automated system to do it for you – and check every now and then that this system is working.
Of course, there are more than four terrible habits you should aim to break. But we’ll leave the others for another day, in case you’ve already suffered enough (guilt)!
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