Written by Rebecca Faith
Freelancing is not easy, and productive freelancing takes diligence. First, you must find work. Second, you must get the work done. If you don’t have work, or not enough work, you may be saying, “No problem, just give me some work.” If that describes you, then your “work” is to do whatever it takes to get some work. If you have work, you may be tearing your hair out and asking, “How will I ever get this done on time?” In either case, avoiding these roadblocks to productivity will make or break your freelance career.
Forgetting My Uniform
Corporations may have dress-down days, but most still have a dress code of some kind. Nurses wear scrubs; police officers wear blues; McDonald’s employees wear their uniforms. What we wear influences how we feel and how we act. Before I began my first day of freelance training nearly thirteen years ago, I received a piece of advice: Dress the part. I got up that first day at a normal work time, showered and fixed my hair, and dressed casually in comfortable clothes that I loved. No one would physically see me, but mentally my head was in the right space.
Neglecting My Workforce
What workforce? I’m a business of one! Exactly! You are your workforce. How do you neglect yourself? By not tending to the Big Three—diet, exercise, and sleep. It took me a long time to figure this out, but when I changed how I ate, exercised regularly, and prioritized sleep, my life and work changed dramatically. The Big Three are interconnected and must be considered together. Without the right food, you won’t have enough energy to exercise. Without the exercise, you won’t sleep well, and without good sleep you won’t work well. You won’t work to your full productive potential.
Operating on a Wing and a Prayer
Whether you are an established freelancer or a newbie dreaming of your first project, you need a schedule and a plan. No corporation operates without plans, schedules, and deadlines, and neither should you. Write yourself a schedule that includes time for prayer and Bible reading, meals, breaks, exercise, and of course, unbroken blocks of working time, in essence, everything that must fit into your day, including how long you must work. Plan to start and stop and get up and go to bed around the same time every day.
Some of us are more apt to wander than others, but unless you get down and dirty with distractions your best planning and scheduling will be useless. Technology is amazing, but it will hijack your life if you don’t get rough with it. How often have I sat down to pray and my phone dings? Next thing I know I’ve chased electronic butterflies for an hour and not prayed a single sentence. I’m prone to the same when it comes to work time. We must use technology to work, but if we don’t get ruthless with the electronic butterflies, they will destroy productivity.
Ignoring My Boss
Wait, I thought I was my own boss. Isn’t that why I’m a sole proprietorship? Not so fast. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23 ESV). Time spent with your Boss is time well-spent. Without it, you will be off track from the get-go.
Changing too many habits at once can be overwhelming, if not impossible. Small changes carried out consistently over time will change your work life.
Rebecca began editing engineering papers in 2010 through a providential set of circumstances that taught her to never underestimate what God can do. Although she still edits for the engineering client, she also edits nonfiction Christian material for individual clients, an independent publisher, the Truth For Life radio ministry, and a wide variety of nonfiction topics for university presses, PhD students, a laboratory press, and independent authors.
Rebecca lives in northeast Ohio and is active in her church and rural community. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.