Freelancer Tips: This Will Help You Succeed When You Work From Home

Image: Allef Vinicius
Those who have not freelanced before tend to have incorrect notions about what it's like to work from home as a freelancer.

The average nine-to-fiver assumes that working from home means staying in pajamas all day, working from the comfort of one's bed, and no longer having to deal with the stress of office politics or annoying meetings that are notorious for taking up a lot of time and not accomplishing much.

Maybe first-time home-based freelancers wear pajamas, stay in bed all day, and luxuriate in the many other comforts of their homes. But they soon discover that none of these "perks" are that great after all, and must be reined in for the sake of productivity.

Working in pajamas takes the joy out of slipping into them later in the day and seems to sap motivation. We associate our work clothes with action and motivation, and our pajamas with comfort and relaxation. It's best to keep these realms separate. Successful long-term freelancers change into presentable shirts first thing in the morning at the very least, especially if they have an upcoming video meeting.

"Since working from home can often blur the lines between work life and non-work life, I remain disciplined and adhere to a routine, following the same beauty and fashion regime as if I were planning to hoof it into the city that day," writes Amy Sciarretto for Bustle. "If I sat around in PJs all day, I would feel like a sloth with no delineation or demarcation between each facet of my life."

Image: Bench Accounting
Due to classical conditioning, working from bed, and even from the bedroom, can quickly form an unhelpful association in the mind: bed = work and alertness. So every time a newbie freelancer goes to bed at night, they can find that they've developed an inability to relax, leading to insomnia and other sleep hygiene woes. The brain says, "Hey, I'm in bed and should be working. Time to think about all the projects I still need to complete!"

Long-term freelancers know better. Get up, shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, have breakfast, and work at a desk or table. If you have space, carve out a special place just for work. Treat working from home like a business.

This means creating a strict schedule and sticking to the schedule.

Do more than write down a simple to-do list. Use Google Calendar or another calendar app to schedule hour by hour. Schedule non-work-related tasks and goals as well.

An example:

8 a.m. to 9 a.m. - yoga
9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - freelance tip article
12 p.m. to 1 p.m. - lunch with Bob
1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. - pick up groceries
1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. - research for genetics article
4 p.m. to 5 p.m. - Skype interview with genetics doctor

Without clear expectations and plans regarding what you should be focused on, distractions can easily get in the way.