5 Things Successful Freelancers do at Home

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It's hard, but discipline definitely pays dividends.

As a freelancer, it’s both a blessing and a curse that you’re the only one responsible for creating a routine that allows you to do your best work.

After 20 years of researching what makes employees thrive in the business world, Harvard found four key factors that promote this: finding meaning in your work; autonomy; routine; and a balance between time alone and in collaboration. Considering freelancers report higher levels of autonomy and connection to their work than those who work in a scheduled setting, it’s imperative that your routine and systems set you apart and get you ahead. After all, you’re signing your own paycheck, so it definitely (and literally) pays to make sure you’ve got your daily routine down.

Here are five things successful freelancers do that you should incorporate into your own day if you want to keep your day job:

1. Know when to stay home and when to go out

The same research from Harvard found that those who belong to a co-working space report higher levels of thriving than workers in a traditional office. One of the reasons cited is access to a variety of different skill sets from people around you that you are not in direct competition with. As the global co-working scene is currently taking off, there’s additional benefits associated with that way of working (hello, in-house coffee and yoga classes!)

The same research from Harvard found that those who belong to a co-working space report higher levels of thriving than workers in a traditional office.

There may be free options in your area too. The Good Copy writer’s studio in Collingwood, Melbourne, for example, offers creative services, grammar classes, books and an open area for freelancers to drop in. “We dreamed of a public place that writers could go without feeling weird about sitting in the same spot for three hours and only drinking one coffee,” Penny Modra, successful freelancer and co-creator of The Good Copy explains on the company website. Have a hunt for a free space: there’s also Wix’s free co-working space in Midtown, New York, or Campus Cafe on London’s Bonhill Street.

2. Automise

With #digitalnomad becoming a seriously trending hashtag, there are a wealth of ways your freelance can be supported with technology. Harvest, for example, allows you to set a timer and track hours whenever you are working. It will then helpfully convert those hours into an invoice for you. Xero will send your clients an invoice with an instantly clickable “pay now” button at the top (nothing wrong with giving them the easy option, is there?). You will be notified when they open your invoice, and recurring invoices are automatically sent if payment is not made. You’ll find this help infinitely time-saving and empowering when it comes to thriving at your own personal company.

3. Exercise in the AM

Richard Branson famously attributes an extra four extra hours of productivity in each day to his morning workout. And why do it in the AM? Because the benefits of improved concentration and mood will be with you all day, and you will have ticked exercise off your to-do list, while most people are still making a coffee with their eyes closed.

4. Make the rules

Working for yourself doesn’t mean you get to ‘not’ make rules – it’s just that you can make them fit your working lifestyle. Make them for yourself, and stick to them. For example, no social media or funny cat videos until after 7pm. No, you do not need to read that listicle right now. Unless you’re reading a listicle about how to succeed as a freelancer, it can wait until after work hours.

5. Wear a uniform

You may not have as many high level decisions to make in a day as Mark Zuckerberg, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy the freed up head space that was previously used deciding what to wear each morning.

This is your domain and whatever works for you, works for your business. You may choose to aim for something a little more pulled together than Zuckerberg, and a little less formal than the president of the US of A, but the key is you are in charge here, so, if you want to wear a leotard and leg warmers, wear them if that works for you. And if you chose to don, please tag us in your pics if so: #myuniformisaleotard

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