How to be a happy freelancer

By Julia Keady

Working for yourself. Working from home. Laptop on your pyjama-clad lap until lunchtime... It's the making of daydreams for many office workers. But once you're in the world of freelancing or consulting as a one-man operation, issues of flow start to arise and create stress. Work flow and cash flow being two of the most difficult to wrangle.

Maintaining a positive disposition as a freelancer takes discipline, forward planning, social interaction and a dash of freelance education! Let's look a closer look at how to make it work.

Setting boundaries

It's easy for the laptop to creep into your downtime. There's a dangerous habit of "I'll just check my emails" or "I'll just finish that report" - thinking that can become habit forming. What inadvertently happens is a 24/7 response time to your work. Instead, set yourself clear boundaries. These need not be 9 to 5, but you may have two longer days in the week that allow you two morning-free days where you go to the gym, visit your grandma or spend time helping at your children's school.

Planning to succeed

Work flow, like cash flow, requires looking ahead. You may be an exquisite graphic designer or bookkeeper, but forward planning and scheduling may not be your strong point. As is the case with micro and small business owners, one must adopt some 'jack-of-all' skill sets, and taking time to plan each week will help you feel more in control of your work and life.

Get a life

Being a freelancer can be surprisingly isolating at times, especially if you base yourself at home and the only interaction is with your clients. One way around this is to set yourself a goal of investing in a desk at a co-working environment such as Hub Melbourne. Not only will you connect with others, but the collaborative nature of these workspaces may help you find new clients too.

What the experts say

Unearthing tips and tricks on being a happier freelancer is simple. There are books and articles online, as well as services such as the co-working hubs mentioned above. Like anything in life, if you want to excel at your freelancing lifestyle you need to take the time to educate yourself. It's a worthwhile investment.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own happiness. When you're feeling blue, remember the days you stared out the office window dreaming of being your own boss. Then get out into the sunshine, immerse yourself in a social work environment or get planning and carry on.

Feeling isolated in your dinky cupboard-turned-office at home? It doesn't matter whether you're working in Adelaide or Albury, there may be a co-working space around the corner. If not - why not create your own?


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