How to maintain work-life balance

remote working

One of the advantages of working at an office is that there's a cut-off time. Once you leave the office, your leisure time begins. That's clear because the structure of your time is linked to space. For remote workers, however, it doesn't quite work that way.When the start and end of your work day depends entirely on you, it becomes harder to secure a work-life balance.

Work-life balance should allow you to dedicate enough time to both your work and life matters in order to meet your daily goals in both areas. The ideal is to meet your work and life goals on the same day.

First, you need to find a job that allows you to maintain a work-life balance and prepare for the remote transition. This position should offer you flexibility and you can find some of this jobs on . If you already have a job you are passionate about you but it doesn't give you much room for personal life, then you should advocate for your needs and make your supervisor aware that you need more flexibility at work. Before meeting your supervisor, you might want to outline a plan of action to achieve this goal.

Once you've found a job that provides you with the flexibility you need, it's time to set your remote working schedule and stick to it. Assess where you are at with your workload by midday so you can determine what remaining key tasks you are yet to accomplish before you clock out. If you have a heavy workload and you feel that you need to work extra hours, it might be a good idea to wake up earlier the next day but still clock out at the same time.

In any case, try to avoid extra hours by pushing yourself during your work hours and planning your workweek carefully ahead of time. The most important rule, however, is to set a cut-off time each day and adhere to it. Force yourself to be on schedule. This will help you push yourself during your work hours, keep you motivated and respect your personal space. To achieve this goal, you have to accept the fact that things can wait until tomorrow. Commuting to a physical office helps you have a cut-off each day. In order to switch off the work mode, you need to have a ritual when work is done to be able to transition to leisure time.

Avoid distractions that might hinder your concentration and productivity. If you need something in the background while you work, instead of watching television, opt for classical music which promotes cognitive thinking.

Staring at a screen while sitting for hours can become overwhelming. Building in break times throughout the day will help you clear your mind and increase your productivity. You can either take a walk or stretch during 10 to 15 minutes so you can return to work refreshed.

If the issue is your home and you are getting distracted with everything around, you might want to try a change of scenery. You can go to a local coffee shop, or even to a library, if you can't work with the noisy background of the coffee shop. Some people prefer to have a coffee shop or a library they are loyal to and they can only work there, but if continuously changing scenery from time to time will help you be more productive, you can always google venues that comply with the characteristics you are looking for and change it from time to time to spice things up.

Time is an elastic thing. You can save time by doing the same chores in a different way. It's all about perspective. For instance, instead of spending time driving to a supermarket and shopping there, you can just order online which will save you the time of commuting back and forth and walking the aisles of the supermarket. This might even save you money not only on transport but on the price of the products and you will avoid the temptation of buying products you don't need.

If working at home distracts you because you are constantly reminded of the chores that need to get done, you might want to consider hiring a cleaning service, or if you want to spend less money, you can even hire a teenager to do specific tasks.

The importance of good equipment

The importance of good equipment

The biggest resource when it comes to freelancing, and indeed life, is time. Time is money is a cliche that we throw around a lot, but it's absolutely true, and in the context of freelancing, time is what freelancers tend to charge for in one way or another (be it by project or by the hour), and so it is really important to have equipment that can support your needs and not to hinder your performance or to slow you down.

The central piece for most freelancers is a laptop computer. The computer was invented to make things easier for humans, although sometimes, ironically, they make matters a lot worse. When you are charging somebody for your time, you can't charge them for the time that your laptop had frozen, shut you out of your browser, decided to spontaneously reset and then taken half an hour to turn back on again - your employers will expect you to have all the sufficient equipment within reason to complete your work with continuous flow. If your computer is showing some signs of age, it might be worth taking it in for a maintenance check up or to consider a replacement, because, god forbid, if you put this off too long it could completely break one day during a vital assignment with a tight deadline. Keep your software updated and keep your computer healthy for maximum efficiency resulting in maximum productivity output.

Much like having a working laptop, having a working internet connection is also absolutely vital for most freelance work. You can teach yourself to type without error at impossible speeds, but if your connection is slow, you will forever be waiting for your browser to load pages which, with today's technology, should be instant. This is particularly important for work that pays by the project as the more projects you can complete in an amount of time, the higher your income, and you will only be able to flit quickly between pages if your internet can keep up with you. You can check your connection quality and speeds using several applications or web based programmes. This can be difficult for those who wish to work remotely so that they can travel, because while many coffee shops and public establishments have free wifi, sometimes it is restricted by data use and slow, and can end up slowing down your work flow. If this is the case, it might be worth investing in a portable wireless router which operates from a sim card to ensure that you always have a trustworthy connection while you are in reception, although these can be expensive.

Software is just as equally as important as hardware. If your work is written, this is not so much a problem as most companies will usually request or accept documents written in Microsoft word, which is available on most operating platforms, but also most word processing applications will allow you to convert to a Microsoft document format, however for more specialised work which uses applications such as photo editing software or music editing software, there are often industry standard programmes such as Adobe Photoshop, which employers will expect you to be up to speed with, and while there are other applications which are perfectly capable of producing similar or even better results, you can't skim over the essentials that most employers will look for. While they don't always have to be your default editing programmes, it helps to be familiar with them as sometimes employers may specifically ask you.

Having the right equipment is an investment, as often it will set you back before you have even begun your work, but, over time, if it allows you to work quicker, more efficiently and more professionally, it should pay for itself and start to see a profit over making do with the basic tools that almost every modern person possesses. As well as saving you money, it can potentially save you a lot of patience, as technical problems are often very frustrating and stressful, particularly when deadlines are looming. Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a nice laptop and some nice software, your wallet and your sanity will thank you later.

Self Promotion

Self Promotion create work

When you work as a freelancer, you effectively create a brand for yourself, and as you become more and more established you should, in theory, be able to decrease your efforts in finding work as potential clients may be searching for you and requesting your services without you having to approach them. It is a good idea to have a strong online presence and a programme of promotion so that you can advertise your services and so potential clients can see your work and find your contact details online.

One form of self promotion is your work itself; if you do a good job for your client they are likely to recommend your services to friends and other businesses within their professional circles. If your physical presence is required in the work, or if you meet with your clients, or indeed if you post any material to them, it may be a good idea to send or to take a few business cards with you that they would be able to pass on to other contacts. If you don't meet with your client, make sure your clients have all your contact details, and perhaps provide a link at the bottom of your email signature that leads to a contact page or to an email reply as this will ensure that anybody can easily find a way to speak to you about potential work.

As well as word of mouth, there are other ways you can promote yourself. Before you start an advertising campaign, consider your target audience. Also consider just how remote your work is, as if you are working, for example, as a freelance photographer, you probably do not want to send your advertising too far away from your point zero as you will also have to travel that distance to successfully complete your work. If your work is quite restricted to a small distance, creating posters that you can display in cafes and on noticeboards is quite an effective method. Printed media doesn't tend to stray too far from your base, and gives potential clients something physical they can hold and keep.

If your work is completely remote, you can look more into using the internet as your main advertising space. For designers and visual freelancers, using a visual platform is a fantastic way to connect with potential clients as you can let your visual speak more than your words can. Having a bright and attractive Instagram page with links to your contact details is a good idea, and you can even pay for advertising through the platform so that examples of your work shows to any number of people scrolling through their picture feed. This can be personalised so that you can target a specific audience, minimising your spending and maximising the advertising effect.

You can also set up a Facebook business page to promote your work. This is a good way to connect with potential clients through mutual contacts who can show your page to their friends and contacts with ease through their smartphone or laptop. It also allows you to use words and writing more effectively than Instagram will as it is a mixed platform, and also has a larger space for you to provide contact details. From Facebook, you can also target specific audiences through paid advertising.

LinkedIn is a much more professional platform which allows clients to seek out freelancers and to create professional circles. For anybody taking their freelance work seriously, it is a good idea to have a strong LinkedIn profile and to check it regularly. Here you can also provide details on the kind of work you are looking for, references from previous clients and employers, and links to your portfolio.

It is important to have a strong portfolio somewhere online that you can send to your potential clients which you can also link to from your social networks. This is perhaps your strongest advertising tool as it shows your best examples and provides clients with a snapshot of the style and quality of the work they can expect to receive from you. Make sure your portfolio is clean, polished, and easy to navigate and is reflective of your best work and your preferred style.

Saving Money

Saving Money create work

It is always inspiring to read success stories that have surfaced from freelancers, however this doesn't always happen overnight, and when you take away the safety net of sure employment and pay checks you are taking a huge risk. While freelancing requires you to go full out, it is often a good idea to dip your toe in the water before you fully commit, and to ensure you have something to fall back onto if it doesn't work out to begin with.

For starters, you may not wish to abandon traditional employment altogether. You may be able to start your freelancing career in your spare time between your current shifts, and once your freelancing has some more solid foundations on which to build an income, you can start to think about leaving your employment. Likewise, you may be able to change your shift pattern to a more part time agreement with your employer, which would allow you to spend a little more time on your freelance work while ensuring there is enough money in the bank to pay the rent at the end of the month. If you have no current employment and you are struggling to start up with freelancing, there is no need to abandon your dream, but perhaps you can look for something part time, just to ensure you have enough to survive.

Another idea worth considering is building up a savings pot before you leave your employment, or indeed to build this up during your good months of freelancing to support yourself in months which are less fruitful. If you can figure out roughly how much you require to survive as if you were receiving a traditional income, then not only can you figure out how much you need to charge your clients on a bare minimum basis, but you can create a goal to work towards every month. Not every month will be as successful as you hope, particularly when you start out, so having some money to fall back onto always helps, and if you do happen to keep succeeding expectations, well, your annual holiday can be extra fantastic.

As there is no stability in freelancing, especially at the beginning, it is also good to know how you can live on diminished costs and still survive, as when money is not guaranteed, you still have to find a way to put bread on the table and a roof over your head. Here are a few ideas that you can consider to cut down the cost of living while you are starting out.

If you frequently use private transport or public transport for short distances, perhaps you can opt to walk or to cycle instead. While you may still have to pay road tax and insurance on your car, at least you will cut the cost of parking, fuel and maintenance, as well as giving yourself a dose of healthy exercise. Public transport can sometimes be a cheaper option, but prices are always increasing, and often cycling is just as fast.

When you do your weekly food shop, are there any items which you can buy for cheaper? Fruit and vegetables are often cheaper and often fresher from a local market instead of a supermarket. Meat is often very expensive, and going vegetarian or at least cutting your consumption will help you to reduce the cost of living, but do make sure you maintain a balanced diet to keep a healthy mind and to upkeep your motivation to work. Eating at home is always cheaper than eating out, and as important as it is to treat yourself, cutting meals out will be good the bank balance, as will be making your own coffee instead of a trip to Starbucks and making your own lunch instead of buying it every day. Also, cutting alcohol out of your weekly shopping routine will definitely lower the cost.

Have you got subscriptions that can be cut from your bill? Instead of paying to go to the gym, have you weights around the house for working out, or can you go for a run instead? Do you really watch all of the channels available from your television subscription, or would you be okay with a lesser package? You can downgrade a lot of services and still be a perfectly happy person.

While it is important to learn to live cheaply, it is also important to treat yourself when you have the money after paying your bills and ensuring some security. Once you get the hang of freelancing, it won't be a problem to balance your bills, but until then, you're better safe than sorry.