Going Freelance, Part 5: Challenging yourself, staying on track

Doing a 180 and deciding to do something completely different with your life is by no means an easy thing to do. And it can get a lot harder. It’s been about five months since I started doing freelance or online work and I am still trying to find my groove. By groove I mean a somewhat steady schedule when it comes to doing and completing my jobs. I get distracted a lot so most of the time I end up working late at night or into the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes, it doesn’t bother me since I don’t really have to wake up early the next day anyway. But sometimes it’s not so good when I do need to be up early the next day.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been unconsciously following some sort of schedule. I get up anytime before 10AM (it could be as early as before 8 or as late as just before 10) and I do all the non-work stuff in the morning. I check personal emails, check Facebook and Twitter, and go on my blog. I do a bit of work sometimes, but mostly I start doing “real” work after lunch. I still have slightly unproductive moments in between and sometimes I work until 2 AM only because the emails come in at night (timezone difference and everything). I think I’m finding a semblance of a “work groove.” Meaning, I’m finding my schedule. I know I still have to work harder and be more focused during “work hours,” but at least I’m slowly getting into it.

Staying on track

My struggle with my work schedule is my own and I don’t actually know how other fellow fledgling freelancers are doing or are faring. All I know is that staying on track is a big thing when it comes to freelancing. It’s important to know what you want and where you eventually want to go. Lists and plans are pretty helpful here.

One of the first five things on my list when I first took the leap was to draft a work plan. At first I did daily work plans, but when it didn’t help me, I chucked the whole work plan thing. I seem to work better with post-its. I do plan to create a more specific work plan for the next half of the year though. By the end of last month I decided that I needed to think about bigger things and not just think about daily work.

Challenging yourself

Along with the things on my list, I also made it a personal goal to create challenges for myself as one way of staying on track and at the same time helping myself get better at what I want to do. I did a few 30-day challenges. I challenged myself in terms of writing and made reading and reviewing books a somewhat regular thing. This month I decided to forego 30-day challenges, but I intend to do a couple more this year. I feel that these month-long challenges help you improve your focus and discipline. If you’re looking for a 30-day challenge, you can check out this interesting list.

Parting words

I realize that I’ve been talking about myself in this whole post, but what I really wanted to say was that you have to include PLANS and PERSONAL CHALLENGES to get through the transition from steady 9-to-5-er to freelancer.

  • Make lists, draft out a loose outline of your plans, and act on them. Create a work schedule to keep you on the right track. Include your non-work related activities in your schedule.
  • Create challenges for yourself. If you want to be more physically fit, do a 30-day fitness challenge. If you want to be a better writer, write 200 to 1000 words a day. You want to be more productive, wake up at 7 AM every morning. Whatever. Just get yourself doing things that will help you.
  • Enjoy the ride. There are bumpy times, but there are also some great and exciting moments. Just try to learn as much as you can and enjoy as much as you can!
What do you do to stay on track? :)

Read the previous posts in this series:

0 – Going Freelance a.k.a. Operation Jump Series
1 – Going Freelance, Part 1: Jumping ship
2 – Going Freelance, Part 2: Getting online jobs
3 – Going Freelance, Part 3: Withdrawing earnings from oDesk and PayPal
4 – Going Freelance, Part 4: Sources of inspiration and information

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