This review features the Varidesk ProPlus30, which was kindly gifted to me. I’ve been curious about standing desks for a while. I’ve heard about some
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.
It’s been a fairly hectic few months, mainly thanks to planning a wedding (details will be over The High Tea Cast over the next couple of weeks). It was a truly wonderful day, but I’m excited to get back to spending more time on this site.
I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve, some of which will start appearing on the site from next week. Keep an eye out for a whole new interactive format for the Weekly Freelance Challenge, some new features and some new tools to make your freelance life a little easier.
But I want this to be a real community for freelancers – whether you’re thinking of taking the leap or you’re a seasoned freelancer.
So, what would you like to see on the site?
p.s Are you using Bloglovin’ now? Click on the button on the right to follow The Freelance Lifestyle on there too!
Recently, I’ve been struggling to whip up any enthusiasm for work. Treading water. This is probably an inevitable part of being a freelancer – sometimes you get a little bored, and need to do something to bring back all the inspiration and excitement.
Last week, I decided to do something about it. I carried out an inspiration audit*.
An inspiration audit is an opportunity to look around you and decide what things are inspiring you, and what things are dragging you down. Personally, when I’m inspired, I’m a bundle of excited energy, ready to take on various products and enjoy them. When I don’t have enough inspiration in my life, I feel tired, stressed, grumpy and generally lethargic.
I fully believe that surrounding yourself with inspiring things makes life much happier.
Is this all getting a bit fluffy? Stick with me. It’s not entirely crazy.
So, last week I started by writing a list of things that made me happy. Please note, these are all things that make me happy – your list will probably be completely different:
- Magazines with brains – Psychologies, The Simple Things, Gathered. Highly recommend all of these if you want to get your brain cogs turning.
- Audiobooks – I am seemingly incapable of just doing one thing at a time, so cooking/bathing/driving is often accompanied by an audiobook. These days, it’s the only way I can finish a book.
- Great playlists – I have a playlist on my iPod for every mood. Music is one of my favourite ways to re-energise.
- Twitter – full of inspiring people, interesting info and great discussions.
- Google+ – same as Twitter, and also great for Google+ hangouts.
- Pinterest – there’s something both soothing and inspiring about making boards full of various things (even if I’ll only make a few of the items I pin).
- Walking outdoors – as a country girl, nothing makes me happier than taking a walk, especially now it’s autumnal and crispy outside. I haven’t done enough of this recently.
- Baking – throw ingredients into a bowl, mix, throw in oven and in half an hour you’ll have a delicious smelling house and afternoon tea. What could be more inspiring?
- Blogs – reading other blogs is a constant source of inspiration.
- Spending time with family – this should really be at the top of my list. My parents and sister are pretty inspiring people to be around.
Then I wrote a list of things that make me unhappy, or saps me of energy:
- Facebook – from a personal point of view, I don’t enjoy Facebook any more. It has a general negative feeling, so I’m looking into the possibility of just using it for business.
- Drinking – I don’t really drink much these days, as more than a glass of wine makes me feel very ill. Also, alcohol is a depressant, so I generally found I felt awful the next day.
- Unneeded drama – I have a fairly low patience level for drama. Why make life more difficult?
- Magazines ‘for women’ – Cosmo, Glamour, Vogue. That’s enough overpriced fashion and awful sex advice for me thanks.
After a week of doing this, I woke up yesterday with a pile of ideas, that familiar excitement, energy and enthusiasm. Identifying what things I wanted to fill my life with, and what things I wanted to rid my life of (where possible) gave me some clarity of mind.
Your Weekly Challenge
So, now it’s your turn! Make a list of all the things that inspire you and the things that don’t. Then try to remove as many of the uninspiring things as possible. If you can’t remove it, try and rework it so it’s a little more interesting. Fed up of spending your weekends catching up on housework? See if you have the budget to hire a cleaner for a couple of hours a week. Boring admin piling up? Make a cake, but promise yourself you’re not allowed a slice until it’s done.
Are you feeling inspired at the moment? What inspires you?
*Totally made up term.
Christmas is just around the corner. Frankly, I’ve been counting down the days since August, this is an acceptable level of Christmas craziness, yes? Our thoughts are turning to the ton of gift-buying, turkey-cooking, chocolate-consuming in the weeks ahead. If you’re freelance, chances are you’re also thinking about winding down your workload so you can have a little time off over Christmas.
Here’s how this usually works out for me:
- 1st December: Hurrah, just a few weeks to Christmas! All this work will totally be done by then. Think I’ll take a gift shopping break. And make some mince pies.
- 8th December: Ah, extra workload from clients wanting to get things done before the new year.
- 15th December: Writes To Do list of everything to do in the next ten days. Begins to panic.
- 24th December: AAAAAAH ALL THE WORK TO DO IN AND STILL DOING IT! At this stage, I’m a grumpy, snappy mess. Not exactly feeling the festive cheer.
This won’t be happening this year. This year, I have a plan. It’s foolproof*. It includes doing the following:
- Ask clients for their expected workload at the end of November, to plan ahead and work out how much time I’ll need. Be firm that additional work can only be requested up until the 8th December.
- Email all clients to let them know which days I won’t be working over the holiday period.
- Try to get ahead in that first week, by clearing my diary and focussing on getting ahead as much as possible.
- Accepting that this won’t be the time to start new projects. January is that time.
- Plan each day. Now is the time to get super-organised and plan out each day to make sure you’re as efficient as possible.
Is this your first Christmas as a freelancer? Or are you a seasoned pro? How are you going to plan ahead for the Christmas working period?
*There will still be panicking. There will always be panicking. Just less of it.
Last week, I started a new series of posts where I set a weekly freelancing challenge. The first challenge was to set yourself five goals for the end of 2012. How did you get on?
This week, it’s all about finding your USP. Stick with me people, it’s not just a sales buzzword! Finding your Unique Selling Point is essential when you’re working in a competitive industry. It’s quite easy to promote your work, but how do you make yourself stand out from the rest?
Your USP could be your location (I concentrate on working in the Home Counties rather than London which is overcrowded when it comes to bloggers and copywriters), your skill set, your contacts or your experiences. You might specialise in a particular sector or work with a specific type of customer. It’s actually much easier to build a brand for your business when you can tell people exactly why you’re worth hiring.
If you’re struggling, think about the USPs of big brands. What makes Apple stand out? Or Moonpig? Or ASOS.com?
Have you found your USP? How did you decide on it?