Work From Home Starter Guide for Freelancers

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When a student hears that their friend is “homeschooled” it often conjures images of sleeping in, bumming around in pajamas, and skipping out on assignments — even if nothing could be further from the truth.

Much like homeschooling, working from home is often wreathed in an aura of idyllic laziness and comfort, even if the reality actually requires a high degree of professionalism, organization, and self-motivation.

A Work From Home Primer

Whether you’re looking for a side hustle due to the coronavirus or you’re simply embarking on a long-held freelancing dream, if you’re a new “gig economy convert,” you may have found yourself struggling to motivate in a work-from-home (WFH) environment. If so, here are a few tips and strategies to help you focus in and get hustling.

 Start with Your Environment

Your WFH environment is a crucial starting point. Try to find an area of your home that can be cordoned off and treated as an exclusive workspace. Avoid working from bed or in recreational areas, as it can blur your work/life boundaries (more on those later). Instead, focus on separating a portion of your living space exclusively for you to get work done.

 Create Routines

Setting up schedules and routines — such as waking up at a certain time, exercising before work, and ending your day at a predetermined hour — are essential to maintaining both your productivity and your sanity while working from home. Without the need to get to the office and with so many distractions surrounding you, a routine can be your lifeline to long-term remote work success.

 Establish Strong Lines of Communication

“Communication” here is referring to both your tools and your soft skills. For instance, it’s obviously important for you to have the right tools to communicate with others virtually. It’s wise to familiarize yourself with the various name brand tools available and even set up accounts on popular communication applications such as Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype.

It’s also good to associate yourself with collaborative tools such as Trello and Asana so that you can become accustomed to maintaining excellent communication throughout work projects by interacting within a central virtual workspace.

In addition, take some time to hone your virtual communication soft skills. Practice writing concise and informative text and gauge your ability to sense emotion and deeper meaning when receiving virtual messages from others. This can be invaluable, as the lack of in-person experience that comes with virtual communication can make it easy to miss out on traditionally present things such as tone, facial expression, and posture.

As you set up communication channels, it may also be a good idea to look for other WFM-ers who can help you maintain accountability as you strive to establish routines and keep up your productivity.

 Invest in Relationships

The world of freelance work is filled with comings and goings as contractors flow from one project to the next. However, that doesn’t negate the power that comes from investing in professional relationships.

Telecommuting is already infamous for its degrading effect on personal relationships between coworkers. If you want to maintain a healthy balance in your work life, look for ways to communicate and invest in the relationships that you do have at any given moment. This doesn’t have to be complex and can be as simple as acknowledging emotions and considering the human element of your interactions as you use technology to collaborate with others.

 Remember Work/Life Boundaries

Finally, throughout all of your WFH efforts, remember to prioritize your work/life boundaries. When you eat, sleep, work, and relax in the same space it’s easy to blur everything together. If this happens, it can both affect productivity and make it difficult for you to disconnect from work.

As you acclimate to a remote-work scenario, strive to work during work time, and then stop working when you’re finished.

 Surviving and Thriving When Working from Home

From good communication to your environment, work/life balance to established routines, there are many ways to set yourself up for remote-work success. As you tailor your own particular WFH situation towards your own strengths, you’ll be able to discover how you work from home best, allowing you not only to survive but to actually thrive in your new work scenario.

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