Freelance Life: Things to Do the Last Week of 2014 #freelancelife

images            So what’s this last week of 2014 looking like for you? Is work is a little slow, with clients still on holidays? Or are you scrambling to get your last assignments completed this calendar year? If you’ve got a little time on your hands, spend your week getting ready for the new business year ahead. Here are a few things I’m going to be busy with.

  1. Doing lots of math

Get a head start on your tax prep and add up your business income for the year. I include all jobs invoiced in the current year, even if the cheque won’t arrive until January. Search out all your receipts and determine your expenses as well. If you’re not sure what items you can claim, do some research on the government tax website. As an editor, I can claim things like office supplies, printer ink, internet costs, dinners out for business (such as my editorial collective meetings or meetings with authors), and mileage for things like meetings or conferences. Fees for professional associations and online resources are other eligible expenses. Business use of home expenses involve some math as well.

  1. Prepping paperwork

Get your spreadsheets and account pages all set up for the next year’s income. For me, this tends to take some time as I have to relearn some of those Excel tricks I use only once a year! It’s exciting to look at that blank page and imagine all the interesting jobs to come—think positive!

  1. Checking the odometer

Make sure to record your odometer reading on the last day of the year and the first day of the next—where are you going to keep this number for calculating next year’s mileage costs? One suggestion is a little calendar book in your glove compartment to manually record any trip miles as the year progresses. Or include mileage in your calendar app alongside each appointment.

  1. Organizing

Is there a pile building up on your desk? It seems like paper is busy multiplying at night while we sleep! Get busy catching up on your filing so you start the new year with a clean, organized desk. Spend some time removing old files (I always keep two years’ worth of everything) and do some shredding or recycling.

  1. Making some resolutions

Are there things you would like to change this coming year? Think of ways you can work more efficiently and take concrete steps to put those changes in place. Some of my resolutions: start work each day on time, all dressed (!); take the furry coworker for a good walk in the middle of each day (good for my brain too); drink more water throughout my workday; and spend less time on distractions like reading the news or blogs.

How about you? What are you doing this week? What new business year “resolutions” are you planning?

Freelance Life: 5 Keys to a Productive Workday #freelancelife #self-employed

When you are self-employed, there’s no clock to punch, no coworker (other than your dog or cat) noticing when you’re not at your desk, and often no one pushing you to meet a deadline. Maybe this freedom and independence is why you chose the freelance life! But some days we may need a push to be as productive as wredpene can be. Here are some tips for ensuring maximum productivity in your workday. You may be newly self-employed and just setting up your work routine, or you may already do these things. Feel free to comment and share what has worked for you.

  1. Set up a dedicated work space

To work efficiently and have your job taken seriously, it’s ideal to have an office space of your own. Ensure that everything you will need for work is in this space, with a good work surface, a comfortable chair, and adequate lighting. Don’t allow your family to “borrow” your office supplies, or you’ll have to interrupt your work time to search out your calculator or stapler! How to best organize a home office will be the topic of a future blog post – stay tuned.

  1. Set a weekly schedule

This is key. Determine your work hours and when your breaks and lunch time will be. This may be different from day to day. In my editing work, it’s very important to have long uninterrupted blocks of time for maximum efficiency. So I plan for this and don’t allow interruptions. It’s important to maintain a professional mindset: this is your JOB. As you would for any other job, get up at a regular time, shower, get fully dressed (“to the shoes,” as one home worker says) and show up at your office on time. Resist the urge to work in your pajamas.

  1. Tell everyone your work schedule

It will take time at first to train your family members not to interrupt you during your work time. But no one will take your job seriously unless you do. You will need to tell people that you work from home and what your work hours are. When you see your neighbour after you take your furry coworker for a walk at lunch, end your chat with, “Well, I have to get back to work,” and remind him what that work is (soon the whole neighbourhood will know). As common as freelance work is nowadays, many people (your mom?) still find it unusual and can’t imagine what you might be doing all day long!

  1. Avoid unnecessary interruptions

Your scheduled break times are a good time to check your Facebook, your blog feed, or the news headlines. Try hard to avoid these time suckers during your workday. If you check your browser history regularly (or ask your spouse or a friend to do this), you may be astounded how much time you spend online. It’s very important to stay connected, networked, and informed, but just be selective and disciplined about what you read during your workday.

Unless you are expecting an important call, allow phone calls to go straight to message and return them later, on your schedule, not theirs.

Avoid the temptation to do housework during your workday. I will do laundry on workdays, however, as I like to be able to hang it outside as much as possible. Schedule home chores for other days, when other family members can pitch in!

  1. Keep a timesheet

Set up a method for keeping track of your working hours—what you do with your blocks of time. You can keep a notebook handy on your desk for this purpose, or you can use an electronic timesheet app if that works for you. FreshBooks cloud accounting system is one that I have used and also includes an invoicing feature. There are many other systems or apps—feel free to comment and share what you use.

These are only a few ways you can ensure an efficient workday. What ideas have worked for you?


Freelance Income: Do You Have Regular or One-Time Clients? #freelancelife #selfemployed

Here’s an article challenging us freelancers to consider what type of client relationships we cultivate — do we tend to have regular clients or do we prefer one-time projects? I like how the author phrases this: “It’s tempting to just lurch from project to project, taking what comes your way, leaving the future to take care of itself.” What do you think?

Freelance Income: Recurring or One-Off? |

Staying Productive When Work Is Slow: 10 Tips #freelancelife

          Okay, it’s 9 a.m. and you’re sitting down in your office, all dressed and ready to work. Problem is, you just sent in your last assignment yesterday and you know more work is coming, just not today! Resist the temptation to watch Pride and Prejudice (the 6-hour version), and consider trying one of these 10 ways to make good use of this extra time.

  1. Tackle your filing

Keep a rectangular wicker basket on a shelf in your office solely for items that need to be filed “someday” – today is that day. Go through that basket, making piles on your floor, then file everything in your filing cabinets or boxes (which you have already set up during a previous lull in work!) Clean out any papers you no longer need to keep. Take on your to-be-shredded pile.

  1. Update your financial records

Have you been too busy to update your spreadsheets? Do you have business expense receipts sitting around waiting to be dealt with? Do that housekeeping now, to make tax time that much easier – expect that you will be busy working by then! Are your bookkeeping methods working for you? Think of ways you can streamline your system and keep track of invoices more efficiently.

  1. Edit your work space

Tackle one box, shelf, or drawer at a time – don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the job. It may have been quite a while since you’ve done this! Look through a box or drawer and decide if you really need each item or piece of paper – be ruthless. If you haven’t used it in the past year…well, you know the rule. Any paper items that may contain confidential info can be put in your “to shred” bag to be tackled another time.

  1. Freshen your web presence

Does your website need some editing or some fresh photographs? Do you have recent work or reviews you can add? How about your LinkedIn page? Is your profile up to date and interesting? Any spelling mistakes? Take time to make intelligent comments on groups you joined a while ago or on other blog posts – remind people who you are.

  1. Write future blog or Twitter posts

Maintain a list of potential blog posts and add ideas as they pop into your mind. Then when you have some time between gigs, do some writing. If your blog or Twitter feed is part of your networking plan, you will need to post at least once every week or two, so take advantage of this work lull to write future posts – you can even schedule them to be posted automatically for you.

  1. Encourage yourself

Don’t let yourself wallow in pity or worry about future work. Re-read encouraging feedback from clients. Keep kudos like these in a document, and consider adding a positive review to your LinkedIn page or website. Keep a list of your strengths and remind yourself of all the benefits of freelance life. Count your blessings!

  1. Tackle a project

Keep a list of big household to-dos – things like painting, repairing, deep cleaning. A lull between paid jobs is the ideal time to check off one of these projects. You will feel productive – you have accomplished something worthwhile — and stay on top of things in your home.

  1. Go for coffee

Another good list to have on the go is one with potential clients or colleagues (or friends!) to see face to face. Now is the time to have that lunch or go for coffee. Do this regularly, even if you’d rather hibernate. It’s good for your mind to get out of the office and have real conversation with a human being. Be sure to keep track of mileage and receipts for any business-related expenses – coffee counts!

  1. Deep clean your office

Move everything off your desk, clean it well with a damp cloth, then clean each item before putting it back. Funny how dust builds up, eh? Carefully clean the fur from your coworkers off the back of your computer. Use a Q-tip and clean the toast crumbs out of your keyboard. Deal with paperwork that may have been piling up.

  1. Learn something new

Are there blogs or group discussions you’ve been meaning to catch up on? Take the time to comment on a post that intrigues you and consider reposting it to your own blog. Choose an essay or article from your “to read” list. Does the library have any new books in your field? Maintain a record of books you have read and a file for quotes you can use in future blog posts or articles. Write a book review. Make it a habit to learn something new every day – such as a new tip to stay efficient and productive between paid jobs!