I get asked very often “How do you balance life as a freelancer/with YouTube”. The very simple answer is: I don’t. I am not weekly with my videos, my website is now pretty, but quiet, and in the last month everything has generally slowed down. Part of this is due to laziness on my end, August being my slow month and also an internal conflict of finding out what I want from everything I do.
Today I did something about it. I have spend the day writing out what I want in life, my goals and developing myself a schedule.
A common thing that has happened, especially the last month, is I start something and do not finish it. I lose motivation way too quickly. I have so many unfinished blog posts and unedited videos. I look at them and think “they are not good enough”. I stopped taking my own advice: Don’t compare and never stop creating things. You can only get better by doing.
I find when I have a lot of freelance I am actually the most productive. Then I have some free time and all of my drive disappears.
So to get back to the point: How do you balance ‘life?’ Here are some pointers I made that am going to live by:
1) Develop a routine and wake up before 10.
A weird one to start off with, but a very real struggle. I am not a morning person, especially if I determine my own hours. I work from home a lot and don’t always treat that as I should: a luxury. I can have my evenings free from now on if I put in the work in the morning. I am not saying “WAKE UP AT 6, WORK BY 7” But be up and get moving before 10 so you can use your day more productively.
2) Remove distractions
I am a procrastinator and distracted by nature. I am going to use this website/app (http://selfcontrolapp.com/) to block certain websites *cough* Netflix *cough* and a few other’s which may hinder my working capabilities. It’s aptly named as when I maybe low in motivation I have little self control on how long I surf online. New rule: If it does not add value to what I am doing, then it probably don’t need to be accessible 24/7. Or at least through working hours.
3) Sleep before 1am.
This really ties in to the first point. I tend to wake-up late and work LATE into the night to compensate. Sure it’s lovely and quiet at night, but this is not good for my wellbeing nor is it good for productivity. It’s time to catch the dedicated 8 hours at a normal time and stop them wrinkles yo.
4) Keep a physical as well as a virtual schedule.
I used live and breathe by iCal, but recently I got myself an actual planner for the first time since I was 18. I wanted something physical for notes and schedule keeping. I do feel a lot more organised and think it is essential to keep some form of planner as a freelancer. Mine is a customised one from www.personal-planner.com with to do lists and 40 pages at the back for a personal diary or notes. I also can write how many hours a day I worked and I what I did. I feel it removes so much stress. My boyfriend actually turned me back onto the idea of planners as he keeps notebooks as journals and he can just refer to it for anything. Brilliant.
iCal or online calendars are great for quick glances at meetings, but my planner is more detailed. I cannot recommend having an actual book (planner or a notebook) enough.
5) Make a to do list for the week and keep track of what you’re working on.
I am a huge fan of ‘To-Do’ lists as said previously. I see it as a tangible way to track the work I have been doing. My job is on my computer a lot of the time and it doesn’t always feel like I have made progress, even when I have. I compare it to painting a wall: I enjoy painting walls because you can physically see how much you are changing your environment. There is a viewable payoff for the work you put into it. To-do lists allows you see all the work you have to do and gain satisfaction in crossing them off. It’s an age old technique, but it’s a damn good one.
I recommend making lists for the week though rather than daily. You can set more attainable goals , as people tend to go overboard on daily lists, and you should find yourself being more productive. You can also take breaks from certain tasks and move onto something else a bit more guilt free, as long as you remember to go back and finish the previous task.
But remember to keep track of what you did that day and you will know if you have been effective in it or not.
6) Have a social life.
Remember it is okay to have fun, see your partner, go to the pub with your friends. I try to see my friends every Tuesday at a pub and having a regular appointment with my friends is a great way to catch up. It means no matter what, you have made time with those people, and can relax and talk about your week.
My house also has a special day every Sunday (that we are able to do!) called Sunday Rules. Our friends are invited over and watch some movies with us. The only rule of Sunday Rules is: You can do whatever you want to do. If you want to work, that is okay. More often than not it is a’ sanity day’ to relax and do nothing. Which I think is needed in most cases. Work week and weekends do not apply to you as a freelancer especially.
And here is one of the BIGGEST pointers…
7) Don’t compare yourself or your work to others.
Comparison generally is negative for the mind set. We see what someone else is doing as amazing and what we are doing as sub-par. You know what, you maybe doing something someone else isn’t. Gain inspiration from others, not negativity and celebrate your work. (Side-note: don’t go so far to think you’re the best, you will never improve if you do not challenge yourself). Comparison usually forces us to recognise others achievements ABOVE our own. And I have to tell you, that just doesn’t fly with me.
Ultimately you should be doing things the way YOU want to do it and HOW you want to do it. That’s what makes your stuff unique. I am not saying ignore your peers or do not take criticism, you should learn from others and accept constructive criticism, but just because someone is doing something one way, doesn’t mean you can’t do it another. You make your own journey.
I feel this is a great list for freelancers, those in school or work trying to balance (home)work with other projects and creative individuals.
I would love to hear any more tips from you guys in the comments and I will follow up and see what works!
(images sourced by weheartit.com/favim.com)