Want to Freelance Online? 8 Key Habits That Are Vital for Success
Maybe, you are in a regular job right now but dreaming of being a freelancer? I mean think about it. What can be better than being your own boss and escaping from petty blood sucking office politics?
But it’s not all sandy beaches and amber sunsets. As a freelancer more than often you are a one-man army. The circle of responsibility falls on your shoulder. You can’t cut slack on productivity and deadlines.
So, let’s use a mishmash of techniques and apps to stay on track with the critical habit pillars of any freelancer’s life that revolve around sleep, work, health, and finances.
1. Wake Up Right
Early mornings are best suited for work that requires a high level of focus. You can start your day right with a wake up light that mimics sunrise.
The Wake-Up Light Alarm starts with a dim glow and gradually increases the brightness. The alarm will also start beeping with less intensity at first and then the volume picks up. A crude (and cheaper) alternative is to get up and open your curtains to let the sunlight filter in.
Alternative: Try a Sleep Alarm App Instead
Yes, you read it right. Alarm apps like Sleep Cycle help you sleep better and wake up rejuvenated. This app helps you get a grip on your Circadian rhythms or sleep states. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to track your movements in bed.
The app begins the wake-up phase 20 minutes prior to your wake up time. Then it identifies your lightest possible sleep state and wakes you up when that happens. Just place the phone on the night desk and ensure that the mic is not covered.
The Sleep Cycle App works in two ways, it uses the accelerometer to detect your movement or the mic to analyze the sound. The app also spaces out snooze across the wake up phase.
2. Plan Your Day With a Schedule
It is very common for us to wake up and feel overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of us. The best way to conquer this feeling is by planning your day in advance. Sticking to a schedule might be difficult at first, however things start becoming easy once you get the hang of it.
With the help of Asana, you can not only create tasks but also assign tasks to a service provider or your teammate. This is pretty helpful as everyone you work with can be held accountable for their respective tasks. Also, you will get all the updates in your Inbox as and when the Task is completed.
Want an Asana alternative? Check out Plan. It offers integration with Slack, calendar, JIRA, Salesforce, and Github.)
3. Track Your Time
As a freelancer, you alone are responsible for meeting deadlines and planning your work. A study by VocherCloud polled 1,989 office workers in the UK and estimated that an average worker is productive for only two hours and 53 minutes in an 8 hour work day.
I personally use Toggl, a time tracking app that lets you record the time spent on individual tasks or projects. By the end of the day or the month, the app will chart the total time spent by you on a particular project.
Toggl can help you decide the billable hours and how well you have managed your time. However, you can also have a look at other popular time management tools too.
4. Stay Focussed Against Distractions
Distractions and procrastination are always ready to pounce. The human brain is wired for procrastination and other shallow tasks. You can get stuck binge watching those cute cat videos or fall into a Netflix series’ for a little too long. Add social media sites to the mix.
RescueTime is very helpful for time management. With so many distractions in the digital workplace, it is beneficial to use a tool like Rescue Time. The best part is that RescueTime is completely automated and records the time you spend across different apps. The RescueTime also offers a Focus Mode which will block all the distraction while working.
RescueTime Lite is free while the Premium flavor comes with a 14-day trial.
5. Stand Up on Your Feet
Long hours on your desk eventually takes a toll on your health. Doctors advise desk workers to get up and exercise a bit at regular intervals of time. One of the best ways to do this is to get up and do light exercises. Sedentary alarm apps will nudge you to get up and help you move at work.
Standup is one such app that will help you take regular breaks by setting reminder interval. The best part is that you can also time how long you have stood. All the data is combined and presented in the form of a 7-day history.
Download: Standup for Android | iOS (Free, In-App Purchase)
6. Make Invoicing Painless
The financial aspect of freelancing is perhaps the trickiest of all. As a freelancer, you need to factor in a lot of possibilities and be prompt with bookkeeping.
Invoice is a document sent to clients in order to request payment for your services. Furthermore, the invoice also contains an itemized bill of your services and terms of payment.
Also, a wealth of simple invoice templates are available for free on the web.
7. Track Your Money
It is very common for freelancers to lose a track of their money and this usually ends up in a financial death spiral.
The Cash Flow app is a great way to keep a track of your money. This app will allow you to record the money in and the money out. Cash Flow app also lets you compartmentalize the source of income and expenditure by assigning a category to each.
8. Monitor Your Expenses
It pays to mind the numbers and freelancing in any type of businesses and freelancing is no different. I use Expense Manager on my iPhone to keep a record of all the expenses that incurs. It is wise to assign yourself a budget and then make sure to stick by it.
Download: Expense Manager for iOS (Free)
Manage Your Workload & Finances
Factors like Cash Flow and Expense Management take center stage when it comes to money management. But time management and health are just as crucial. You need to figure out what works best for you and accordingly design your day. A few more timeless tips for freelancers should hold you in good stead as you work your way to success.