As a freelance digital designer, I’ve had the opportunity to leave my corporate job behind and work for myself at home. As I’ve talked about in a previous post, I enjoy the flexibility, variety and freedom that freelancing provides. I get to work with both my local Los Angeles design clients, and remote clients from around the globe, all from my messy desk at home.
My work-from-home setup also allows me to be home to spend time with my littles and be there when they need me. As a freelancer, I work when it’s best for my family’s schedule. I can get up early to create an email design for a client before anyone is even awake. I can schedule client meetings around playing outside or volunteering at school.
Working from home is a huge privilege and has also been such a benefit to my career. Not only are the hours flexible, there’s also the perk of being able to work in your pajamas and do laundry between projects. Working from home also allows you to save time and money commuting back and forth to the office every day.
There are some challenges, too. Flexibility can also mean a lack of structure, which means you have to create your own. When you’re not officially leaving an office, it can be hard to “clock out” for the day and to keep time for yourself and your family or social life protected. I have spent many late nights trying to clear projects off my list only to wake up in the morning with 931098231 more.
Here are some tips I’ve found helpful when organizing my work from home life. If you have others, please share them in the comments!
This is really hard, especially when every hour you aren’t working you are essentially losing money. I’ve had to fight the urge to fill every waking moment of my time with client work. But I work better, stay healthier, and produce better results, when I give my mind and body time to refresh periodically.
I walk to yoga and try to get outside as much as I can. Getting 🌞 on your face in the morning makes such a difference. It sounds like it would be so easy to just take a walk, but it's hard to stop what you're doing when you have a million deadlines looming. But seriously, make it a priority.
Create a Morning Ritual.
When I worked in an office, I used to stop at a coffee shop each morning on my way in. The sameness of the routine helped cue my mind that it was time to transition from home life to work life. Since I now work in the same place as my home life, I’ve had to adapt. But I am saving sooooooooo much 💰 now making my own coffee! I try to wake up early to get the little ones and my husband out the door on time. Then I prepare my blender for ceremonial cacao. I (sadly) follow up my cacao with coffee. Trying to remove the coffee habit but I love it :). I clean up a little while my coffee is brewing because I can’t focus in a mess (this is hard with kids!) but I find that starting the day in a clean environment really helps me be creative.
Sit by a window.
This is huge for me. Having the light shining on my face makes a difference in my mood. As a digital designer, though, I do have to watch out for glare issues, which means making sure I have curtains or shades 😊. Plus, sunscreen even indoors is a must!
Be flexible with your tools.
I went through a few invoicing systems before settling on something I liked. I signed up for and stopped using Dubsado MULTIPLE times and kept coming back to it 😂. I also switched bank accounts, and tried hiring VAs (Virtual Assistants) to try to optimize my business processes. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the system that works best.
Get a tax app.
Did you know that when you work freelance, you pay a self-employment tax? This means you have to put away WAY more than you would normally. It can really hurt when you think you’re making 💵 💵 but you have to reduce it by up to 40%. I am currently using the catch.co platform to make this easier. They tell me when I get paid, and take a percentage of the deposit to put away for taxes. However you handle taxes, be prepared (or end up sobbing when you see how much you owe at the end of the year!)
Find podcasts you love.
Digital design requires focus from my eyes and hands, but my ears are free! I listen to SOOOOOOOOOO. many podcasts while I am working. Not only is this a way for me to continue learning and gathering resources for my business, freelancing can be isolating, and it helps just to have the sound of people even if I’m tuning out some of it.
My favorites right now are shows like "Funded by Source" (I am obsessed with and inspired by all of the content Ksenia puts out). Magnetic as F*ck, And of course my all time favorite email marketing podcast by my friends at Flowium, Email Einstein
To be honest, I am still working on this. It’s hard not to jump on every single communication a client sends, putting out fires and knowing that they could easily find another freelancer to work with. Since I only make money while I’m working, it’s hard to shut down. I try not to be glued to my phone at night checking emails. I also try set aside at least one day a week as a day off.
What are your daily routines like?