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
My Freelance LIfe
My Freelance Life is an insight into my personal freelance life.
Happy New Year everyone!
How are you all doing? Enjoying the first few days of 2018, or feeling slightly overwhelmed? I spent most of the Christmas holidays looking forward to getting stuck into some planning (I ADORE Christmas, but I love planning new projects and adventures even more). But when the first couple of days of January rolled around, I felt a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by all the people who had got all their ducks in a row, and were already launching their new courses and products.
But when I posted on Instagram about this, I was reassured that I wasn’t the only one – and that first week of the year doesn’t dictate how the rest of the year goes. So if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed too, and that Imposter Syndrome is making an appearance, know that you’re not alone!
(p.s I’ve returned to this old post on how to beat Imposter Syndrome, to remind me how to challenge that mean little voice.)
Anyway. I thought I’d kick off my first post of 2018, with a reflection on some of my favourites from December.
Freelance Life Favourites for December
Favourite Apps: HMRC
OK, I hesitate to call this a ‘favourite app’. But with it being self-assessment month, it’s worth mentioning that HMRC has a handy app for checking what tax you owe once you submit, and also has a tax calculator.
Favourite Apps: Forest
I’ve mentioned Forest before, but I know a lot of people are setting a goal/resolutions to spend less time on their phones/devices this year. Forest is an app where you ‘plant’ a virtual tree and set the timer for how long it will take to grow. While it’s growing, you shouldn’t use your phone – or the tree dies. If you have a tendency to automatically open your phone and enter into the Facebook-Email-Instagram cycle without even realising it, this is a great deterrent.
Favourite Podcast: Your Biz, Your Rules: Daire Paddy
One of my business BFFs, Daire Paddy has finally launched her podcast, and it’s brilliant. Daire (pronounced Da-ra) interviews a variety of people about how they add their personality into their business. I’m biased because I was a guest last month, but they’re lovely chats. I especially loved Karina Lyburn’s interview.
Favourite Product: Olympus Pen Camera
I know I’m years behind everyone with an Instagram account, but 2017 was the year I finally got a proper compact camera. I adore my Olympus Pen Camera, and have been putting it to good use over the Christmas holidays. I can’t wait to use it more in 2018, to really improve my imagery.
Favourite Event: The Freelancer’s Christmas Party
Thanks to Emma Creese in the Facebook group, in mid-December a group of us freelancers in the South met up at a London Pizza Express for a festive lunch. It was so lovely to meet old and new freelancing friends, and chat about all things freelancing.
Goodbye Halloween, hello Christmas! Ok, not quite yet, but there’s a strong chance I’ll be doing some admin in front of Elf in the next couple of weeks.
October was an interesting month on the work front, and I’ve had quite a few fun projects come up. After several months of things settling into a quiet routine, it’s been both exciting and a little bit unnerving to shake things up again. But I’m a big believer that personal growth comes from moving outside your comfort zone.
Want to see what I’ve been loving from October?
Freelance Life Favourites for October
Favourite Apps: HypeType
I’ve been using Instagram Stories a lot more recently, both for clients and my own accounts (I’m @TheFreelanceLifestyle), and HypeType has become a really useful part of that. Essentially, it’s an app to add animated titles over your images and add music, with lots of different styling options. You can also record straight in the app, using several different clips if you wish. I’ve really enjoyed using it as an introduction tile when sharing a series of behind the scenes shots on Instagram Stories.
Favourite Podcast: Walking The Dog With Emily Dean
This month’s new favourite podcast is Walking The Dog with Emily Dean, a series of celebrity interviews conducted while walking their dogs. It’s relaxed, funny and Emily is able to get the most interesting stories out of her walking companions.
Favourite Product: GVOREE Led Selfie Ring Light Mirror
While I love my little garden office, the lighting isn’t always the best, especially now the nights are getting darker. I ordered the GVOREE Led Selfie Ring Light Mirror, partly due to the lighting options, but also because it’s brilliant for having somewhere to put my phone during live streams and Instagram stories.
Also, it’s brilliant for angling away my chins and lighting away my eye bags.
Favourite Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
2017 has been the year of decluttering for me in every sense, and so I’ve been listening to Essentialism with interest. I particularly like the idea of testing out what happens if you don’t do time-heavy things for a while. Will people notice?
What have been your freelancing favourites from October?
Hello October! We’re into the flow of Autumn, the scarves and slippers are out, and I’m lighting an excessive amount of candles. I’m a big ol’ Hygge cliche, and I’m absolutely fine with that, because working from home means I can really indulge. It’s not quite as easy to get cosy when you’re sitting in an office booth, is it?
Before I dive into my favourite spooky month (because of COURSE I’ve got Hocus Pocus ready to watch this afternoon), I’ve shared a few of my Freelance Life Favourites for September below.
Freelance Life Favourites for September
Favourite Apps: Bring and No Waste
September was the month I focused on improving my meal planning and shopping. I’ve been using two apps to reduce my waste and get more organised. The first app is Bring, a shopping list app that syncs with the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. I can quickly add items to my shopping list, and browse from previous lists so it’s quick and easy.
The second app is No Waste. This app is used to add in everything from your fridge, freezer and cupboards. You can add expiry dates, so it makes it easier to see at a glance what needs eating, and it’s great for those days when you have no idea what to cook and need to see your cupboard contents in a glance. Finally, you can then meal plan in the app.
Favourite Podcast: What She Said
There are so many brilliant podcasts at the moment, but I’m particularly enjoying What She Said by Lucy at Wanderluce at the moment. Her interview style is really relaxed and chatty, leading to a podcast that often feels like you’re having coffee with friends. Lucy interviews lots of bloggers, tapping into their experiences and top tips. As a bonus, I often come away from episodes with a bundle of new things for my To Do list.
Favourite Blog: Freelancer’s cookbook
Can you tell there’s a foodie theme to September’s favourites? Next up is The Freelancer’s Cookbook, a blog filled with recipes aimed at busy freelancers. I love how quick and simple the recipes are (this gnocchi one was a particular favourite this month). If you’re looking for inspiration, give Rose’s blog a follow!
Favourite Product: LED Side Lamp
My friend Melissa launched her online store, Honeybee Home, this year, and so far I’ve loved everything she stocks. A couple of months ago I got this funky geometric mirror, and now she’s released the autumn range and this LED side lamp is top of my wishlist. Especially as it’s only £16.
Favourite Book: A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled by Ruby Wax
Hands up, this has been sitting in my Audible library for ages. It’s been recommended a lot to me, but….I wasn’t Ruby Wax’s biggest fan.
But this book is good. Really good. I’ve dealt with anxiety and mild PND since having my little boy, both of which have thankfully improved a lot since going onto medication. But I’m aware that this isn’t a long-term solution, and I’m keen to explore how I can help myself when it comes to reducing the medication. Ruby’s book is honest, practical and full of tips. If you have anxiety or depression, I’d highly recommend this book.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2yDZTzR
Favourite Parenting buys: Autumn book and Play Prompts
As I know a few of you are also freelancing parents, I thought I’d add a new category of brilliant buys for freelancers with kids. This month, that’s a book and something great for planning play. The book is one that’s perfect for this time of year – Autumn by Ailie Busby. It’s a beautiful book filled with autumn scenes and activities. Thanks to Ashleigh from That Ginger Mama for letting me know about it!
The second buy is a set of Play Prompts cards. These are a set of cards with prompts for different activities to set up for children. They’ve been great for rainy afternoons. I’ve got my eye on the Play Prompts Advent Calendar too.
What have been your freelancing favourites for September?
If you’re a long-term resident of the Berkshire area, there’s no doubt you’ll have heard about the Bracknell regeneration, not least because it’s been in the works for 30 years! Bracknell’s reputation hasn’t been brilliant over the last few years, despite the beautiful parks and being surrounded by lots of family-friendly places.
That reputation is set to change though, with The Lexicon opening last Thursday. It’s a brand new shopping destination, taking the place of the old town centre (which was, to be frank, a bit of a concrete jungle which I rarely visited). I briefly visited The Lexicon on Thursday, and again this morning, and it’s hard to believe that you’re walking around Bracknell, as it has such a funky, metropolitan vibe about it. It feels more like walking around an outlet village. Without the bother of jumping on tubes and trains. In fact, it’s a two minute drive from my son’s nursery, so I’m looking forward to popping in there on the way home.*
*my bank balance doesn’t share this enthusiasm.
I also really liked that they used a local artist, Kerry Lemon, to come up with a lot of the artwork around a forest theme. Hurrah for local, independent talent! There are areas of The Lexicon that play forest sounds as you walk past, and others that show a marble run through a forest theme. It feels like a really nice link to the leafy forests around Bracknell, and it caught my toddler’s interest too!
— The Lexicon (@The_Lexicon) September 7, 2017
What does it have for freelancers?
So, what does it have for freelancers?
- Wi-fi. I clocked as we left that there’s free wi-fi throughout The Lexicon.
- Bill’s – we had our bloggers breakfast here, and it’s perfect for either a meeting or to enjoy an hour or so working – especially as they have free Wi-Fi and huge pots of tea. The eggs benedict was beautiful, highly recommend it if you want to hit the shops early.
- Coffee Barker Co – an independent coffee shop if you want something with a bit of charm. They have a huge variety of loose leaf teas too, handy if you’re not into coffee, like me.
- Flying Tiger. It’s Instagram p*rn. Seriously, everything in there is pretty much guaranteed an Instagram comment of “OMG where’s that from?” on your shelfie snaps. Come payday, that’s my first stop.
- Paperchase. My home planet.
- Loads of seating, and a new area called The Deck coming soon, which could be good for working outside in.
There are still some stores that are opening soon, but I quite like that it’s not all open at once – it stretches out the excitement a bit.
I’m really proud to have lived in Bracknell for the last six years, but even more so now that we’ve got such a great place to shop and socialise. In the past I’d have gone to Reading or Basingstoke to shop, but now my heart is firmly with The Lexicon.
Update: I visited Coffee Barker this week, and it was SO good. I love that they have blankets to snuggle under, big pots of tea, china cups and really good cake. It’s perfect for this hygge-loving, tea-guzzling freelancer.
What’s your town like, for freelancers?
Disclaimer: This post isn’t sponsored, I just really really love it there. They did give us a free breakfast though.
Hello, and welcome to a new series on the blog! This is going to be a regular column sharing some of my favourite products, experiences and people. A peek into my freelance life (with the highs and the lows!).
August, with its mix of hot weather and lots of people on holiday (including potential clients), is never my favourite month. But on the flipside, I adore September and the potential start of autumn, and I’m so excited to move into this season. It’s that back to school feeling isn’t it?
August was not without its perks though. Here are a few of my favourites from August (yup, I know it’s a bit late, I’m aiming to make future columns a little earlier in the month!)
September doesn’t just mean a fresh start for me, but a brand new collection for one of my clients. I’ve been busy with the Winter launch for Chocolates for Chocoholics, which means I’ve got to hang out with my sister lots too and do lots of fun stuff on social media.
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I’m a big fan of Canva, but I’ve found Adobe Spark Post recently for quickly creating social media content. It’s been especially handy for editing images for Instagram Stories.
My Apple Watch. I podcasted about this recently, but I’m still really enjoying my Apple Watch, especially for nudging me about getting up when I’ve been sat working for too long, and tracking how much time I’m spending on my phone (the Moment app is fab for that).
Laura at Wholeheartedly Healthy shares my obsession with all things autumn, and I loved this post from her on How To Make The Most Of The September Fresh Start.
I live in Bracknell, and have had some beautiful days out recently in the parks around us. I’m also really excited for the launch of the brand new shopping centre, The Lexicon, later this week. They’ve got a great independent coffee shop in the centre, as well as plenty of my favourite shops, so I’m looking forward to going there after doing the nursery drop and doing a little work (while accidentally falling into the shops).
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I recently finished reading Leap Year. It’s from Helen Russell, who wrote The Year Of Living Danishly, and I love her writing style. Helen and her friends try out different approaches to change, and report back on their findings. If you enjoyed The Year Of Living Danishly, I’d highly recommend picking this up (especially on audiobook).
What were your freelance life August favourites?
Before I had Oscar, I had a very naive idea of how I would mix the freelance life and parenting. I’m not sure if I assumed I’d have one of those children who happily just sat down doing one thing for ages, or I just assumed that I’d have more energy than I do. But the honest truth is that, on the days I don’t have nursery or childcare, I find it extremely challenging to get anything done. I think there’s a lot of pressure on mums who work from home to achieve so much – and being a mum on it’s own can be challenging enough. Someone recently asked me how I get so much done – and I honestly don’t feel like I do, I just happen to be fairly visible online. 21 months on, I still feel like I’m not achieving enough.
So, I thought it might be interesting to share a day in my freelance life, before and after having Oscar (on a day when I don’t have him in nursery).
Before Kids: Wake up at 7am, feeling (fairly refreshed). Sit in bed scrolling through e-mails. Saunter to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and breakfast. Scroll through social media. Put shower on. Wash. Put bra on. Dress. Meditate. I’m ready for the day.
After Kids: Wake anywhere between 5-6.30am. Scramble out of bed to be greeted by the noisy but smiling alarm clock/child. Go downstairs with Oscar and give him his milk and breakfast. Put kettle on. Put Peppa Pig on. Scroll through emails. Put kettle on again because I forgot to make tea. Make tea. Play hide and seek. Forget tea. Drink cold tea like it’s a shot of Sambuca.
Before Kids: Sit down at desk and work through To Do list. Take conference calls.
After Kids: Sit on sofa and keep Oscar busy with building bricks/cars/Disney movie/something in the garden if the weather is nice. Try to reply to e-mails/tweets/Facebook comments while he’s distracted. Stop half a dozen times to pull him off the walls/stop him eating the toys/stop him filling his toy box with water/applaud him for stacking a high enough tower. Repeat. Give in after five e-mails and join in with play. Still not wearing a bra.
Before Kids: Make lovely, healthy lunch. Eat lovely, healthy lunch.
After Kids: Make lovely, healthy lunch for two. Oscar refuses lovely, healthy lunch. Throws it on the floor. Put fish fingers in oven instead. Return to lovely lunch, now cold. Still not wearing a bra.
Before Kids: Drink tea and proceed through To Do list.
After Kids: Kid goes down for a nap. Mad panic about what to tackle first in the 1-3 hours of nap the toddler takes. Work, housework, shower? Procrastinate by mindlessly scrolling through phone for first 30 minutes. Panic a little more. Finally focus on e-mails, writing content and planning ahead. Take a conference call with one eye on the baby monitor, praying they don’t wake up mid-call. Throws wash in machine (last lot of wash is still in the basket, unfolded and un-put away). Debates whether to jump in the shower or baby wipe wash. Finally put on bra. Quickly dash around the house doing a five minute tidy. Child wakes from nap.
Before Kids: 6pm rolls around and you finish up for the day. Write tomorrow’s To Do list, and enjoy an evening of dinner, Netflix, social media scrolling and blog post writing. Maybe even venture outside and socialise.
After Kids: From 5pm, I have grand ideas of the many things that will be achieved after bedtime. As soon as Oscar is in bed, anytime between 7-8pm, I’ll collapse on the sofa in an exhausted heap. Half an hour later, realise I’m still watching Peppa Pig. Two hours later, collapse in bed.
Obviously, the ideal is that as someone who is self-employed, I should have the flexibility to just not work on the days when I don’t have nursery for Oscar. Reality is a little different.
But would I change it for a job? No! I love what I do, my freelance life is just as much a part of my identity as being a mum is. I love that I can be at home to see all the cool things my son learns to do. I love that there’s not as much pressure to be a polished mum all the time (because, no one apart from Instagram can see me at home). Plus my boss (me) is pretty understanding of the days when not much sleep has been had and all I want to do is have a day watching Trolls on repeat. Being a freelance, work-from-home mum is certainly a privileged position to be in, even with its challenges.
Oh, and this is really only very short-term in the grand scheme of things. In just over a year, he’ll be applicable for the free 30 days of childcare a week. And I’ll be sitting at home, working and missing him horribly. So if you’re going through these early years of freelancing and parenting, remember that it’s not forever! And you’re doing far better than you think you are.
How does your freelance life compare, before and after kids?
When I first found out I was pregnant, I had visions of curling up with some freelancing reads while the baby napped.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. I mean, he actually was (and still is) a good napper. But reading felt like a waste of time when the house was a mess and I had work I wanted to get done. But thanks to audiobooks and fitting in the odd evening session of reading, I’m surprised to see I’ve read more than I thought in the last year. And quite a few of them are books that have made a big impact on my life. For me, it’s important to take something away from a book to put into action. So often, I’ll read a book and enjoy it, but not feel like it’s enhanced my life in any way after.
So, I put together some of my favourites in a video (links to each of the books below).
What are your favourite freelancing reads recently? What books have led to you making real changes? Let me know in the comments!