What with so many people working from home since all this began, there’s been lots of advice shared about how to do it properly.
Which is very necessary, because at the beginning of 2020 a lot of people had to adapt to working from home very quickly, and needed a helping hand.
But a lot of the advice I see shared would, once upon a time, just have made me feel guilty. And still does now and again.
Because even though I’ve been freelancing for over four years now, I do things every single day that totally go against what seems to be the conventional wisdom of how it should be done.
So if you ever feel like you’re not getting this freelancing/WFH thing right, here’s some of the advice doesn’t work for me.
1. Don’t work in your pyjamas
This is a weird one, as a lot of people that hear the word freelancer automatically picture someone sitting around all day in their pyjamas.
And for some reason, they think that means us freelancers do sod all. As a result, the standard advice seems to be that you should always get changed in the mornings.
But I often don’t. I work just as well in my pyjamas. Having a dog means I do generally need to at least get into activewear for morning walks, but I’m often back in my pyjamas as soon as night falls, even if I’m still working.
I also work pretty well first thing in the morning. So if I’ve got a looming deadline I’ll often start work at the crack of dawn, and I certainly don’t waste time getting up and dressed first.
And yes, sometimes that does mean I get a bit carried away and am still working in my pyjamas way past lunchtime.
2. Don’t work from your bed
Some people find working in bed extremely uncomfortable (I’m definitely not one of them), and some don’t think it’s a good idea to work in the same space you sleep. Not sitting on your bed or even at a desk in your bedroom.
I’m sure there’s a lot of truth to that and if you struggle with the mythical work-life balance then working from bed will probably do you more harm than good.
But I’ll often start work in bed first thing in the morning, and sometimes retreat to it at various points throughout the day.
It’s bloody comfy, and I find it works well if I need to be particularly creative.
I actually write this from my bed in the middle of the afternoon as our latest foster dog has taken ownerships of our mini-sofa and I just can’t write blog posts at my desk to save my life.
It’s probably a good thing I’ve never found it hard to draw a line between work and everything else in life, because if I’m working from home I can’t actually work anywhere but my bedroom. The downside of living in a one-room cave.
3. Stick to regular working hours
There are, of course, lots of people who don’t have a choice about the hours they can work from home. Other responsibilities mean they only have a certain window to squeeze it all into.
But as I only have myself and the odd foster dog to worry about, I don’t have to stick to regular working hours. My hours change depending on the work I’ve got on, and how I’m feeling.
A regular schedule has never worked for me, and I’m pretty sure it never will.
One thing I have managed to do this year, though, is reclaim my weekends. Keeping your weekends work-free (as much as possible) is one rule I most certainly would recommend.
4. Plan out your working week
I can 100% see the benefits of having a carefully planned work week, with slots factored in for marketing and CPD.
But I’ve never been a planner. At school, when I was told to plan an essay I’d write ‘Plan’ at the top of the page, then just write the whole essay.
That tendency carried on throughout university and after a few years of freelancing, I’ve realised there’s no fighting it.
I use the basic Microsoft To-Do to keep track of what’s due when, but that’s as far as my planning goes. I switch between tasks depending on the due dates and on what I’m in the mood for. And although it does mean my marketing is erratic at best, my client work never suffers.
It’s a fairly chaotic approach, but it works for me.
My golden rules
These are the two rules I do try my best to stick to. And I manage to, most of the time.
1. Don’t fight the way you work
I do my best work when I’m under pressure, so often leave things quite close to the deadline. After years of trying to change that, I’ve accepted that I’ll do the same amount of work in fewer hours if I’m under pressure.
Figure out what works best for you when working from home, and then embrace it.
Do you do your best creative work snuggled up on the sofa, or are you at your most inspired late at night? Do you thrive if you have a careful plan for the week, or do you work better if you’ve got more freedom?
Whatever your quirks are, don’t fight them, just go with them.
2. Do whatever you damn well please
Never feel pressured to do things in a certain way. There’s no right answer when it comes to running your own business.
Other freelancers can be fantastic sources of advice and wisdom. You can, and I have, learned so much from them. Particularly the wonderful people of Twitter.
But you’ve got to row your own boat, and figure out your own rules. Do whatever works for you, even if it flies in the face of what it seems like everyone else is doing.
What are your golden rules?