Freelance Challenges

  • The September challenges

        
    It’s my favourite month of the year! I adore September. Not only do you get that wonderful ‘fresh new notebooks/new school year’ feeling, but it’s also the start of my favourite season – autumn. September just feels so full of opportunities.

    I’m now 8.5 weeks into motherhood and starting to get a bit more of a routine. It’s lovely to be able to spend time with Oscar and yet still have a little time to do a little blogging. He’s having a nap now, so I wanted to squeeze in a blog post about my plans for September, both on a personal basis and for my business.

    Work

    • Weekly podcast show. The Freelancer’s Teabreak returned last week listen here, and I’ve already recorded several for this month. I want to carry on with a weekly podcast.
    • A new #periscopemyprogress challenge. Last week using the #Periscopemyprogress challenge I managed to set up a great workflow for my podcast. I’m going to do it again this month to add a new e-course to The Freelance Lifestyle school
    • Wake at 6am twice a week and grab a morning each weekend to focus entirely on work
    • Put aside an hour to brain du,p and map out my business plans for the next six months.

    Personal

    • Post-natal Pilates x 3 a week. I’m using a free online trial from Joanna Helcke and finding that it’s a great way to ease back in. 
    • 2x 30 min walks a week. This doesn’t include general walking about e.g doing the shop. I can’t wait to go for a walk in the park as autumn really gets underway.
    • Get back into batch cooking and meal planning. Fail to plan and you plan to fail and all that. I’m aiming to lose 6lbs this month.
    • Go through my wardrobe and clear out everything that doesn’t bring me joy (yup, I’ve been reading The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying)
    • Get Oscar into the routine of sleeping until 6. He’s currently doing 11-5, which we’ve been working on since week 5 when he was doing 11-2:30. We’ve been using the Baby Secrets book and routines and he’s thriving on it. I’d love to get to the point of him sleeping 10-6 by October. 

    What goals do you have for October?

  • Five ways to organise your email

    5 Ways to organise your email

    Confession time. My inbox at the moment is a mess. In fact, when a friend saw that I had 7664 unread emails in my inboxes (across four different email accounts), she let out a loud gasp. It’s not quite as bad as it seems, as many of them are press releases and general sale emails that I automatically divert to other sub-folders and dip in an out of. But it’s hardly what I’d call productive either.

    So, I’ve come up with a five step strategy to get my email healthy again. I’m not talking inbox zero healthy (I’m realistic, that’s never going to happen for me), but 80% organised would be marvellous.

    1. Update my sub-folder rules – This one is going to be a half day job. Currently, I have a group of rules that automatically sort some of my emails. LinkedIn emails into one folder, any emails containing the term ‘sale’ in the subject into another folder and so on. The trouble is, it’s often a case of out of sight, out of mind. So I need to go through those folders, and assess which emails I need to remain subscribed to. Which brings me on to…
    2. Unsubscribe – I’m aiming for five unsubscribes a day. Should only take me a couple of minutes each day, so totally doable.
    3. Unroll – Unroll.me is a tool where you can collate all your emails into one long email you receive each morning. You can also unsubscribe to regular newsletters from the site, so it’s a big time saver. Having everything in one email often reminds you how little some emails contribute to your life – and how little you’ll miss them if you unsubscribe. This will probably take 1-2 hours to fully complete.
    4. Use Gmail? Ok, take a deep breath, hover over ‘Inbox’ on the left, and choose ‘Unread first’. This scared the sh*t out of me. And I also discovered a few important emails that I’d completely missed beforehand. All those tabs for social/discussion etc might be handy, but they also lead to you missing out on a lot of good stuff. If you get a lot of emails, ‘Unread first’ will do you more favours in the long run. This…this is a day long job.
    5. Once your email is in a little better shape, try to keep it that way. My aim is to stick with the rule of ‘delete or deal with it’. I have a tendency to check my emails on the go, forget about them and then forget to reply later. So the only way I can see myself dealing with this, is if I limit how often I check it. My first step to doing this, is to take my mail app on my phone, and hide it away in the back of a sub-folder. Hopefully that will stop me checking it so much on impulse!

    One last thing. Last weekend, I removed my mail app from the bottom toolbar on my iPhone, and hid it away in a folder on the third page. This has really helped me reduce how often I check my email by impulse.

    Ideally, I want to have all of this done by the end of February.

    Are you an organised emailer? Or a recovering disorganised one? What are your top email tips? Let me know in the comments!

  • How two routines changed my freelance life

    Want to know which two routines have changed how I work in 2013, for the better?

    The Morning Routine

    Each morning I have a checklist of five things I must do without fail before I start anything else. Each item of the list is either something I love, or do something that sets me up for a great day. This is not something you do for others (unless it makes you happy).

    Currently, my list is (in no particular order):

    • Make my bed
    • Sit down for a couple of minutes with a cup of tea or a glass of water
    • Catch up on blogs and vlogs
    • Plan my meals for the day
    • Meditate using the Calm app.

    Sometimes, I multitask some of these tasks (for example, I often catch up on vlogs and blogs while putting my make up on for work, and I check Pocket and plan meals from bed before I get up).

    The benefits of the morning routine

    • I feel more positive, having started the day with enjoyable things
    • I feel more productive – I’ve already ticked five things off the list
    • I feel more successful – starting off the day with health habits makes it easier to stick to them

    The Evening Routine

    While the morning is all about starting off the day right, the evening routine is all about relaxing and setting up for a good start the next day. Currently, my evening routine is (in no particular order)

    • Write a To Do list for the next day
    • Cleanse and tone my face, and ideally enjoy a relaxing bath
    • Go to bed with a clean kitchen
    • 15 minutes of tidying
    • Read

    The benefits of the evening routine

    • I feel more organised – my natural mode is ‘slob’, so having a tidier house and an idea of what I need to do the next day really helps
    • I feel more relaxed – all of the points above set me up for a good night’s sleep
    • Less stressed – With a tidy(ish) home and a plan for the next day, stress levels are certainly lower

    Obviously, routines vary from person to person. For example, while I have time to enjoy a bath in the evening and catch up on my blog reading in the morning, I’ve no doubt that working parents would struggle to find the time!

    Why not try creating two routines for yourself – then let me know how you get on! 

  • 10 freelance resolutions for 2014

    freelanceresolutions.pngAs tradition dictates, the end of December is a time to reflect, appreciate the things you’ve done well or enjoyed, and evaluate what things you need to change.

    2013 has been an odd year for me. Actually, this seems to be the case for a lot of people I’ve spoken to. On a personal level, it’s been a very mixed bag. Planning a wedding was pretty stressful for me (event planning is not my forte), but getting married was wonderful. On a professional level, the first half of the year was tough, but the second half of the year has improved – it certainly feels like we’re bouncing back from the recession finally. I’ve also been excited about finally launching some projects that have been floating around my brain for a while – particularly the 30 Day Freelance Lifestyle E-Course (sign up now for the January one!).

    So, onto 2014’s goals and resolutions. Some are an extension of lessons learnt this year. Some are brand new.

    I will work to my strengths

    In 2013, I learnt a lot about how I work best. In the past, I’ve spent too much time doing things I felt I should, and trying to work in a way that didn’t come naturally. Understanding how I work best, especially as an introvert, is something I’m planning to continue to do in 2014. I now know that more structure, planning less, daily meditation and having a dedicated work space all work well for me.

    What are your strengths?

    I will learn a new skill

    My personal life has dominated 2013, so I want to add some professional development to 2014. Something manageable, that I can do in an afternoon or on a quiet Sunday. At the moment, my biggest goal is to gain a better understanding of Google Analytics.

    I will prioritise

    In 2013, I’ve developed a few strategies for improving how I prioritise. Eat That Frog, taking on the hardest task first, is the strongest influence on this. Identifying three things I HAVE to do on my To Do list has helped let go of the guilt that not everything is going to get done. And identifying a morning and evening routine has been hugely beneficial (more on that soon). I plan to continue putting these into practice in 2014. I’m also in the process of reading The Chimp Paradox, which I suspect will have a big impact on how I work next year.

    I will keep on top of my accounting

    Same resolution every year. This year though, I have Rosie’s excellent Tax Return Toolkit to keep me organised.

    I will reflect

    How much time do you take to take a step back and reflect on your day and your achievements? There are plenty of apps that make this easier to do now – my favourites being Lift and Happier.

    I will take time out

    This year, I took my first proper holiday in five years – and that was my honeymoon. This year, I plan to pack in a few weekend breaks away. I’ve learnt that short and sweet works for me, and controlled access to wi-fi keeps me sane! As much as I love the idea of a technology detox, it really doesn’t work for me.

    I will have more fun

    If I had to sum up 2013 in one word, it would be ‘stressful’. I plan on having a lot more fun in 2014.

    I will plan less

    One of the most successful things I’ve done in 2013, is plan less. One of my worst habits is to procrastinate in the process of planning, and put off the scary concept of actually putting a finished product out there. By limiting pre-planning to the minimum, then planning as I go along, I’ve been far more successful in reaching some of my goals. This is a resolution I’m planning to continue into 2014.

    I will implement some more processes

    I’m not a naturally organised person, so I need processes in place to get stuff done. I’ve had some success with this in 2013, but in 2014 I’m planning to put some processes in place to deal with my emails better, keep this blog on a more regular track and, inevitably, some processes to get my diet back on track (I couldn’t talk about resolutions without mentioning food at some point…)

    I will reduce my information intake

    I’ve got subscriptions coming out of my ears at the moment – email subscriptions, Facebook page likes, magazines subscriptions, blog subscriptions. My target is to unsubscribe from five things every day. I’m using the Lift app to prompt me to do this.

    What freelance resolutions are you adopting in 2014?

  • Take part in The Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse in November!

    freelancelifestyleecourse

    • Love the idea of freelancing, but not sure where to start?

    • Already made the jump into freelancing, but feeling a little unsure of what to do next?

    • Looking for a supportive community of other freelancers, new and experienced?

    The Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse is for you!

    Kicking off on the 1st November 2013, The 30 Day Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse is a 30 day online course aimed at those who are either thinking about going freelance, or have started taking the first steps. Each day in November, you’ll get a new task that will take you a step closer to setting yourself up as a freelancer. You’ll also get support from an exclusive Facebook group and a selection of downloadable printables to fill in as you go.

    So, what does the course include? Well, there are two levels:

    Standard Package

    screenshot593

    • DAILY CHALLENGES – every day you will receive a single actionable challenge to help you get closer to establishing your freelance lifestyle.
    • FREE EBOOK – you will receive the first copy of the brand spanking new ebook  -’20 Ways To Be A Better Freelancer’, worth £6.99. This ebook is designed to help you boost your business after the 30 day challenge.
    • FREE DOWNLOADABLE PRINTABLES 
    • EXCLUSIVE FACEBOOK GROUP – Unlimited access to the private Facebook group, where you can access the daily challenges and get support

    Price: £19.99

    Premium Package

    • DAILY CHALLENGES – every day you will receive a single actionable challenge to help you get closer to establishing your freelance lifestyle.
    • FREE EBOOK – you will receive the first copy of the brand spanking new ebook  -’20 Ways To Be A Better Freelancer’, worth £6.99. This ebook is designed to help you boost your business after the 30 day challenge.
    • FREE DOWNLOADABLE PRINTABLES 
    • EXCLUSIVE FACEBOOK GROUP – Unlimited access to the private Facebook group, where you can access the daily challenges and get support
    • PERSONALISED CONSULTATION – 1-2-1 Freelance Consultation through Skype or Google+ Hangout, 60-90 mins, worth £50
    • *UPDATE!* TAX RETURN TOOLKIT FROM ONE MAN BAND ACCOUNTING – All those that sign up for the Premium membership get access to One Man Band Accounting’s Tax Return Toolkit, worth £25, the essential package for getting started with freelance finances! The Toolkit includes a step-by-step guide, tips and hints, handy checklists, planners and a private Facebook support group.

    Price: £29.99

    What does the Ecourse cover?

    The 30 Day Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse will cover:

    -How to write a freelancing business plan
    -How to find your freelancing niche
    -How to find your target market – and how to win their business
    -How to organise your freelance finances
    -How to draw up a contract
    -What tools to use to make the most of your time
    -Getting motivated – and what to do when you miss office life

    Take advantage of this amazing offer right now!
    Simply choose your package on the dropdown menu below, hit ‘Buy it Now’ and complete your first step to freelance awesomeness.
    If you want to pay by bank transfer, drop me an email.
    Once the sign up process is complete you’ll end up at the confirmation page where you will find all the juicy details on how to get started.
    Start your freelance journey today!

    Packages




    This IS your opportunity to begin a freelance lifestyle in 2014!

  • Freelance Five: Things to try in July

    July

    We’re now half way through the year – how’s your 2013 been so far? With the wedding and honeymoon behind me, I feel like I can have a bit of a fresh start to my freelancing career and really concentrate on growing things. More of that to come.

    In the meantime, I’ve put together a checklist of things to do and try in July, if you’re a freelancer or home worker.

    ❏ Subscribe to The Simple Things

    The Simple Things is a magazine that doesn’t include any of the following:

    • Fashion features featuring a) super expensive clothing and/or b) teeny little models
    • Beauty features airbrushed to a completely unnatural point.
    • Articles claiming to help you get a bikini body in a week.
    • Articles claiming to make you a better lover.
    • Horoscopes

    Instead, it has:

    • Interviews with fascinating artists, female entrepreneurs, nature specialists and crafters.
    • Features on seasonal activities, new skills and crafts, unique holiday destinations and unusual ways to spend your weekends.
    • Recipes that place taste above looks.
    • Methods to be more mindful

    It’s an inspiring read that gives you a list of things to do to enrich your life, rather than a list of unrealistic rules you should live by. If you’re a fan of the slow life principle, it’s well worth a read. It’s refreshing to read something that doesn’t contain photos of celebrity cellulite.

    ❏ Investigate a service to see what other uses you can get out of it

    How many online services have you tried out then forgotten about? Or tried out and stuck to using the same features? Most online services have a whole bundle of tools that are barely touched – especially if they’ve been added on during later app updates.

    For example, I recently discovered I can email To Do lists from Wunderlist to my inbox, in a tick box format – perfect for printing if you prefer to keep things paper-based. I also researched Autoresponders in MailChimp, and now use them to send RSS updates and a follow up email to subscribers.

    ❏ Book a Digital Day Off

    If there’s one thing that my honeymoon away taught me, it’s just how much involvement technology and the internet has in my life. Every spare moment is filled with tweets, emails and tapping. Book some time off from your tech, whether it be a chilled out Sunday with family/friends or an hour each day without being within reaching distance of your smartphone.

    ❏ Revamp your desk space

    My poor desk is currently swamped under a pile of paperwork, mugs and books. I really couldn’t face tidying it in June….so I worked from the sofa. My work reflected this. So July is all about getting back to basics and revamping my desk space so I spend time there again.

    Is your desk space or work space getting you down? Have a look for some great organisational touches on sites like Pinterest, and store away anything you don’t need on a daily basis to keep things minimalist.

    ❏ Pitch to a local company

    Have I bored you all to death yet with my insistence that you go local? Yes? I think this one if probably self-explanatory though. I’ll be doing a post about this during July, with more details on how to pitch locally.

    Are you adopting any challenges in July?

  • The Freelance Lifestyle answers YOUR questions this Thursday at 7.30pm!

    This week’s Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge is a bit of a different one. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll know that I emailed all my subscribers this morning with a FREE copy of the 30 Day Freelancing Challenge ebook. I did this for two reasons – 1) I really appreciate it when people take the time to sign up to and read The Freelance Lifestyle and 2) I get a bit ridiculous when the sunshine comes out.

    Anyway, I wanted to follow that up with a Google+ hangout to answer any questions you might have about freelancing. It’ll be an hour long, and streamed live to YouTube, so if you miss it you can catch up there.

    Want your question answered? You’ve got a few options.

    I’ve recorded a three minute Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge below to go over the details.

     What questions would YOU like answered?

  • The Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge – Meet other local people

    freelance lifestyle weekly challenge

     

    It’s time for the Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge!

    (Can we all pretend I’m not actually late posting this challenge? Yes? Wonderful!)

    So, this week, it’s all about community. Working from home or freelancing definitely has perks, but sometimes you just want to talk to someone other than the cat. Getting to know your local community means you can meet new contacts, friends, potential clients and discover lots of new things about the area.

    Check out the animation of five steps to get to know your community better, then let me know how YOU’RE going to get to know your community a little better this week.