All the advantages of being a freelancer (Flexibility, give your work the cost you think it has, spends time with family/friends, workout, and many others that we are not going to cover today) may put your world upside-down, and lead you into a chaotic situation!
For that reason, here are 5 tips that may help in your freelancer career.
Make your bed - Clean your room - pickup all your toys - open windows
Those are all mom’s phrases, and you may wonder why we should do those things if we are going to break that harmony in a while? I will play with my toys again, so, why should I put them into the box again? Well, my dear, the idea is to have a cleaner room, is to find and keep your thing in their proper place.
This applies to every aspect of our life, even (and especially) at work. You must have a clean desk, your notebook, paper, and pencil, and that’s all you are going to need! yes, keep it simple, keep it clean! If you usually snack at your desk, please, stop doing that, because I bet that you left the snack wrap there, and you will start accumulating a lot of things, breaking our Keep-it-clean rule, but, don’t avoid that snack, just, go to your kitchen, sit and eat it.
Clean and tidy or a messy environment?
Well, unless you are aiming for a Nobel Prize, please, keep your desk clean and tidy, because a clean desk will help you to focus on work and in prioritization, so, you can do what is expected to be done.
“Working at a clean and prim desk may promote healthy eating, generosity, and conventionality, according to new research. But, the research also shows that a messy desk may confer its own benefits, promoting creative thinking and stimulating new ideas“ — Kathleen Vohs at Science Daily
About a messy environment, the Science Daily research author, says that it helps to stimulate new ideas and promote creative thinking!
So, please, have it clean, ordered and if you can put a little green friend called Potus, that would be better
Make a TO-DO list!
Shamarukh Chowdhury is a senior doctoral student. She collected data from 300 undergraduate students using online self-report questionnaires including questions like why, when, and how these participants created a to-do list, and the results were amazing
They detected the conformation of 3 groups:
- A) 184 participants created a written to-do list
- B) 51 participants created random to-do lists (the back of the napkin for example)
- C) 65 participants just made mental to-do lists
Also, she says:
"The first interesting result was that although individuals who create to-do lists more often tend to procrastinate less, those who created formal to-do lists procrastinated less than any other group and were more conscientious than the participants who used random or mental to-do lists." — Shamarukh Chowdhury at Psychology Today
So, to-do lists help us to keep on track and they can be a way to successfully achieve our goal. In this case, we MUST use them, a to-do list is more than just notes on a board, they lead our path, they said to us what we should be doing right now and what’s next, they keep us organized for the next day and also for the next week/month.
Additionally, to-do lists are not just about our work tasks, we should add workout items, snacks, and recreative and family moments.
My personal opinion is to have a to-do list, ordered by due dates and priority, that gives us a big picture of the project current state, tasks we need to finish, and also you can make a relation between tasks and merge them!
Some studies show that making concrete deadlines helps to reduce the tendency to procrastinate. If you say “I want to start working out” is not the same as saying “I want to start working out next Monday”.
Defining whats needs to be done and when need to be finished, is a good starting point for our projects. Deadlines are effective ways of reaching our goals, they must be realistic and clear. Also, need to be discussed with the client, you must inform them how much time it takes you doing a specific task, you need to set a baseline for them and negotiate, then, when the deadline is accorded, It should not be changed.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” — Henry David Thoreau
Deadlines are commitments that we make conscientiously of the task we need to archive, and that commitment should never be postponed if we want to keep a good relationship with our client.
Healthy work-life balance
What the heck is a work-life balance? The short answer is to find a way to merge your personal life (loved persons) with your work, spend the same time on relationships, and with yourself than with work.
Work-life balance is not more than giving your life the highest priority possible, use time for family, friends, workout, travels, doctors appointment healthcare … and this doesn’t directly imply that you are not going to be a successful freelancer just because you are dedicating hours to another thing, you need to find your own balance.
How you can have a healthy work-life balance?
- We need to put our life at the same first level as any other task in our TO-DO list.
- You need to find the work hours that fit into your life plan (and not the other way around)
- Choose your client, not all those who pay the most are the healthier, sometimes they tend to be toxic for us, so, prioritize those you have better relationships and who understand that “is just work”, and personal life is a priority
- Try to workout: cycling, running, or some outdoor sport helps to clear up and come back renewed
- In the middle of a workday, make time to have a coffee with friends or family, this helps us to distract ourselves and be happier. (And you catch up with your loved ones)
So, having these points in mind, we can reduce stress, burnout risk and we are going to have a greater sense of well-being.
All can be done, is just about time
Every new client (or even the ones you already have) has no idea of what developers can do, and sometimes we think they want things that can’t be materialized, but, if we oppose to the ‘idea’ they had, we can fall in the ‘lazy-zone’ (that word really exist!!…. I think hehe), the client can understand we don’t want to do a task/job because it will take us so much time that is not worth it, or because is hard to achieve. They need to know that we can do it but with some changes to make it real.
How we can deal with this kind of situation?
The first change to make the requirement feasible is a scope change. Try to find a way to complete what the client wants but with some improvements or modifications to the final idea, move the scope. The second change is a distant deadline, so, we are saying ‘Hey, I can do this but is not going to be for the next week, maybe it will take me the following two weeks’, so, we are having enough time to finish the task in a good way, also, if we finish the task sooner, the client will be glad, but don’t rush, just try to end it at the deadline you agreed.
The idea is to never say no, we are developers, we can do everything, and if we don’t give the same thing they want, we need to shape it, we are going to put all our effort to have it something similar!
Why never say NO to an actual client?
As I said, we can do everything or similar, we need to listen to what the client wants and shaping it, show them that we can do that, but in another way or in a long time.
Is still feasible to do what they dreamed, but slightly different.
We are not just developers, we need to guide them to a successful project, we must show them what works and what doesn’t in this IT world. Making their projects successful, implies that we are going to have more work from this client.
If we think that something is hard (but not impossible) to achieve, is a great opportunity to improve our knowledge and skills, so, talk with the client, make them know that is going to take more time than expected, tell them why, but, also tell that is going to be done and how it will be, email them with the changes you are proposing, with a scratch of how the project will end, write the conditions and get into an agreement. This is the healthiest way to make them happy, learn something new, improve skills, and keep the client.
As I always say
Hope this helps!