In the eyes of many, self-employed work often appears like the best possible position in the world. Although it is true that being a self-employed worker probably offers more upsides than downsides, there nonetheless are numerous inherent challenges to deal with. While being able to build our own schedule is a great benefit, working efficiently when you don’t have to punch the clock and when you can work from home wearing your bathrobe, is easier said than done. Here are three tips that will help you be an efficient, home-based self-employed worker.
Avoid playing it by ear
Having absolutely no schedule is and will always remain your worst enemy. There is no doubt about this. As self-employed workers, we often have to juggle numerous projects with different clients. Trying to manage such an important load of work without having a precise idea of when, how and by which date things should be done will inevitably lead to problems, such as having to tackle some tasks at the very last minute. As a self-employed worker, the quality of your work and your ability to respect deadlines are your trademarks, and thereby represent your keys to obtaining more business in the future.
The best way to constantly reinforce your trademark and foster the spreading of your name by word of mouth is to build a schedule for yourself. Have a calendar on which the due dates of the projects you are working on are noted. Every week you ought to build a general outline of the tasks you must carry out, and you should divide them in your schedule while leaving yourself some leeway here and there to take the unexpected into account. It doesn’t matter whether you are an early bird or a night owl; what matters is that you have a solid plan with regards to when and how you are going to tackle your workload. Adapting that schedule to your own preferences is absolutely fine, but you nonetheless need such a schedule to avoid wasting time or being tempted to do activities other than your job!
Make your workspace lively
Working from home can be hard on your mood, especially if you live alone. Human beings are a sociable species and repeated loneliness can rapidly become depressing. Therefore, self-employed workers must find a way to make their home office a pleasant place to be. Although there probably are as many ways to do that as there are people, some guidelines are worth noting.
One of them certainly is to avoid dead silence. In effect, working in an environment that is too quiet can bring more boredom and fatigue than anything else. Putting on classical or jazz music (which stimulate your brain without necessarily having it focusing on lyrics and a beat) is a good way to mimic some of the background noises that usually transform a collective workplace into a real hive of activity. Ensuring that the lighting is good, that air circulates appropriately, and that the décor is stimulating can also enhance your productivity. Adding a few plants and/or a fish tank can also help augment the lively character of your workspace.
Allow yourself some breaks
As I mentioned, building a schedule is essential. But allowing yourself some breaks throughout your schedule is just as important! In effect, being a self-employed worker often means that you do not have those little two-minute breaks here and there to have a short talk with your colleagues, and that you do not have a pre-determined lunch hour. This means that work at home can often become invasive, overwhelming and omnipresent. If you do not give yourself some moments to recharge your mental batteries away from the computer, whether it is during lunchtime or at some point in the morning and in the afternoon, your productivity curve will bend downwards.
It is indeed almost impossible to maintain high levels of energy and concentration throughout the day without taking short breaks. One of the many advantages of including breaks in your self-made work schedule is that you will force yourself to take them! In effect, without a schedule, some people tend to work in an uninterrupted manner, but at a lower pace. Not only does this way of working ultimately diminish your overall productivity, but it also increases your fatigue as you get the feeling that you never stop. Therefore, taking one short break in the morning, a one-hour lunch period and another short break in the afternoon, for example, increases your chances of being productive all day long. And this, in turn, augments the likelihood that you will spend less time working in the long run just because you do everything more efficiently!
Guest Author Bio
Alexandre Duval is a blogger for Traduction Boomerang, a Montreal-based company that offers professional edition and translation services. He is also currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.