The Productive Habits of a Freelancer

The fact that I am a freelancer roughly means that “if I don’t work, I don’t eat”. So, I can’t afford to postpone or refuse clients or opportunities for personal reasons. However, a clear thing that I encourage, from my own experience, with my clients, is that you don’t need to be the slave of your own schedule and especially you don’t have to let somebody else make your schedule for you. Let’s get one thing straight. If you don’t sell, you don’t have money. Money is most often earned from sales. The candidate sells the recruiter the idea that he will be the right employee. The boss sells the employee the idea that he will be a decent manager. Colleagues inject the new employee with the idea that they will make a good team together. He sells everybody the idea that he is worth being maintained in this position. I sell my clients the idea that I can support them into doing anything they set their mind to better than they already do. They further sell their clients the solutions they need. However, the man was not made for money or for his job. The man was not made for the telephone – the telephone was made for the man!

Have you ever seen a working person starving in Romania nowadays? I haven’t. I don’t think there are. So relax and smile! The New Year is coming!

I am a freelancer. This means that I conduct my businesses by dividing my time in a planned manner among all the people who are provided with my services and my work, administrative issues and my personal life. On the condition that things are planned, each can have a piece of my time. The assumed tasks condition my life into being a very effective piece of machinery, and the rate at which my activities and the people that I interact with follow another during a day or week is a very motivating one. On some days during which I have many meetings and urgent tasks, I don’t even feel that I’m working, although I wake up at 6, I go to bed at 12 a.m. and I barely have time to eat.

If you are or want to become a freelancer, a recommendation I have for you is based on common sense. Even if money is earned hard, it is kept calmly. Search for better offers for all that you really need, get good documentation before buying or getting anything, offer generously if you can, learn to receive what others are giving you, and learn how to ask for what you want and need! Clients are most likely to buy from calm people who convey the idea that they respect their work and time.

This implies planning for a day once a week (for most of the people that is Sunday) when you don’t work and get some rest, even if during the rest of your time you are available at any hour whether day or night. During the rest of the week, you’d better work out a little and proactively take care of your health, i.e. have your blood tested and possibly submit to other specific types of tests once a year, get some food supplements (not medicine) to compensate for the missing substances in your body. Otherwise, a month of sickness would cost you more than a year of health maintenance.

A danger that freelancers predominantly working from home are facing is social isolation. Regarding this issue, my recommendation is to set regular meetings and discussions, either face to face, or via Skype or telephone, with friends, including and mainly on weekdays and especially (but not each time), on the freelancer’s day off.

The administrative and/or household chores may either be delegated to other persons (maid, cook, assistant) or may be performed while listening to audiobooks and watching training sessions or documentaries.

An important, but not very demanding, period of time needs to be allocated to the technological update. Every month, there must be a budget provided for technology: digital devices, storage media, accessories, consumables, chargers, accumulators, batteries, multi-purpose devices, operating systems, software, etc. This time is proportional to the importance of reading and covering specialty documentation for improving one’s knowledge and skills in the specific professional area of the service-providing freelancer, to which I would also add, of course, the briefing on the general economic, social, and especially legislative field.

The idea according to which at a certain point you are through with learning and you need to put into practice what you have learned is one of the most idiotic ideas ever that exist in Romanian society. Stopping from learning is the same thing as deciding to become a passively intelligent stupid person. To put into practice what you have learned, you must always learn new more effective ways that would help you use what you already know. Of course, you could say that you don’t have enough time to learn. You may say that, as long as nobody fires you from the position you are holding, you don’t get any kicks from anybody and are praised as compared to others, you don’t really need to grow personally or professionally. You are free not to read the links I send you, the books I recommend to you, and not to see the movies I suggest to you. You are free not to take the tests I send you and not to use the techniques that I offer to you. Instead of joining the seminars on personal and professional development that I organize in exchange for ridiculously low prices, you are free to go to the mountains, “to your parents’ house“, on holiday or “see something more special”. At the same time, don’t be surprised when those who are free to exceed you will do it with flying colors. They don’t do it because they have something against you. They do it because they want to exceed themselves. Because they can and they will. In about 5 years, you will ask yourself how that young fellow, 10-15 years younger than you, makes more money than you do and possibly took your position/clients. It’s because he sharpened his axe – follow the story of the woodcutter below to understand.

(keep reading ↓)

So, you, as a freelancer, get to make your own schedule and get to enjoy your benefits. The way you plan your things is the way you succeed in reaping the rewards of your work. Which are the few strategic tips that have helped me keep “in shape” from 2005 to date?

  • Take a day off once a week when you allow yourself not to plan anything professionally, and just get some rest or spend time with your loved ones.
  • Make time for your health daily. Thus, the state won’t pay for so many medical expenses anymore, so be proactive.
  • Make time for friends every day of the week.
  • Don’t waste too much time only on administrative tasks. Delegate them or do something more productive while attending to them.
  • Allocate time and money for technology and for sharpening your skills in your field.
  • Calm down. Things are not as serious as they might seem sometimes. Creativity reaches calm people easier.

Marcus Victor Grant

Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2017-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article”Obiceiurile productive ale unui liber-profesionist“ published initially in Romanian on the 28th of February 2017 on Economia Online Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. 

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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