One of the great things about being a contractor and a writer is that I can work from wherever I want. If I want to travel up the coast, I can. If I want to even go abroad, I can. I am limited only to wifi - but I was never a big camper anyways.
If you’re like many Americans and find that you’re given lots of flex time, or have even started working from home consistently, you too can rock the freelance lifestyle. However, I won’t say that it doesn’t require some foresight and planning - especially if you own property, have a spouse or children, or are committed to any other responsibilities. But it can be done.
To be clear, I’m not specifically advocating that you travel if your lifestyle doesn’t allow it - in fact, quite the opposite. This post is written for anyone who works from home, most especially those who are contractors or have a large amount of autonomy in their workflow. There are certain things that are just, well, difference for us than for your normal office employee, and it's time to talk about it!
Here’s what you need to know to rock that freelance lifestyle without neglecting responsibilities or stressing out:
No, I don’t mean social media - though that definitely is important as well for most businesses. As a freelancer, you have so many benefits that office workers don’t have, but there’s one thing that you miss out on that I find myself pining for an embarrassing amount: the office water cooler.
Whether literal or hypothetical, there’s a lot to be said for having guaranteed social time, every day, without having to have an “occasion” for it. Find what works for you - that may be a friend that lives nearby that you can chat with a few days a week, or striking up conversation with regulars in a local coffee shop (if you’re braver than me). The only wrong way to invest in your social life as a freelancer is to ignore it until you feel like you’re turning into a hobbit.
A big challenge for travelling or even spending several days away is staying on top of home maintenance. I’m a big proponent of outsourcing as much as I can, both at work and in my personal life - which is why I find reliable workers to help me when I want to spend some time away from my property.
Depending how long you’re gone, and how much real estate you own, this may be a simple cleaning crew to reduce some of the load on your spouse (especially if you have several children), all the way to a part time manager if you and your family will be gone for a few months.
Even if you aren’t planning on travelling much, outsourcing banal tasks will improve your quality of life immensely, especially if you’re a contractor. As most entrepreneurs know, some months will be slow, but some months will be so busy you feel like your head is spinning - so waking up to a clean home and your laundry all in order can help you celebrate those months as victorious, instead of just stressful.
The third and last piece of advice I’ll impart on you is that even though you don’t have to set a schedule, you really should. Believe me, I’ve gone through waking up whenever I feel like it, and going to bed whenever it's convenient, and it really loses its appeal after a month or so! Not only is it difficult to get quality sleep when you’re going to bed at a different time each night, but it’s hard to get focused in the morning when you don’t have a solid routine.
As you embark on your new lifestyle, keep tabs on how you’re feeling - and know that any reaction to your new habits is fine. It’s understandable to feel lonely, or disorganized or even chaotic at first - just make sure you address the problem head on. With a little planning, your life will be infinitely better than when you were tied to an office desk all day.