The daily life of a freelancer is a lot less glamorous than those working-from-the-coffee-shop Instagram posts make it out to be.
Sure, you may work with your dream clients or occasionally work while traveling. But more often than not, remote freelancing means you’re going to be at home behind your laptop doing a lot of heads-down work.
Freelancing requires discipline and self-motivation. When you stick with certain habits, you’ll find that you can land better clients, get more work done, and get paid faster.
Here are some daily habits every independent freelancer should have.
Stick to a schedule
One of the biggest perks of freelancing is the flexibility it gives you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that every day will be different and exciting. The key to working efficiently is to create some sort of structure and stick with it.
Flexibility is all about creating a schedule that works best for you.
Figure out what time of day you work best. Maybe you like to get your deep work done early in the morning before everyone else wakes up. Or maybe you feel most creative late at night. You could even reserve a couple days for client meetings and administrative tasks, and block off the rest of the week for focused work. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
When you’re in charge of your own schedule, you’re also in charge of your time. Time management is another daily habit every independent freelancer should practice.
One way to better manage your time is through time blocking. When you work with several clients at once, it can be tricky to juggle multiple projects. Blocking off your schedule to work on one task for one client helps you avoid context switching, which can hinder productivity.
Regardless of which time management practice you put in place, it’s important to understand how long tasks take you. When you know how much time you spend on writing a blog post, designing a logo, or conducting an SEO audit, you can use that insight to scope future projects.
Take plenty of breaks
When you work remotely, it’s easy to sit at your desk from sun up to sun down without looking up from your screen. But it’s even harder as a freelancer because you’re your own boss. The only person who is going to tell you to take a break is you.
Like any job, breaks are necessary to avoid burnout and give your work brain a chance to relax.
Make it a point to schedule a daily break, whether that’s for lunch, a walk around the block, or even closing your laptop for a bit. Take advantage of screen-free time so you can recharge before diving back into work.
People sometimes mistake “having a flexible schedule” with “available at all hours of the day.” When you work independently, you have to set your own boundaries to protect your time and energy. This applies to relationships with your clients as well as with your friends and family.
Setting boundaries also applies to the way freelancers work. Make it a daily habit to set boundaries with yourself. This can look like sticking to a start and stop time for work or limiting the number of times you check your email.
Being an independent freelancer means you run your own business. And having a business requires marketing.
Even if you’re fully booked or typically rely on referrals to get new business, it doesn’t hurt to market yourself often.
Write blog posts for your website, send cold DMs or emails, or share tips and insights on social media. Consistently marketing yourself helps you stay top of mind with prospective clients. You want to have a full pipeline of projects and clients so that when one project is coming to a close, you already have a new one to kick off.
Stay on top of admin
Something people aren’t always prepared for when they start freelancing is the administrative side of things. As an independent freelancer, you’re a small business which means everything from accounting to taxes to invoicing is your responsibility.
Make it a habit to check in with the admin side of your business on a regular basis. Do you have any unpaid invoices you need to follow up on? New client inquiries to respond to? If you work with a team, have you paid their invoices?
Staying on top of administrative tasks on a daily basis ensures nothing slips through the cracks. And when that’s all taken care of, you can dedicate more of your time and energy to doing the work you enjoy as a freelancer.