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Being Your Own Boss Means Actually Being a Boss: 7 Rules For Freelancers

by Mehera Bonner
featured, freelancing

freelancing success

Image via Flickr

In you’re a freelancer, chances are your friends are jealous. After all, there are tons of perks to the job, including (but not limited to): more time at home with your BFF the couch, the ability to spend part of your day in yoga pants without people judging you, and the fact that you’re basically your own boss.

But just like any job, there are a few freelancing pitfalls that are easy to faceplant straight into – especially if you’re freelancing while you still have a full-time job. The good news is that they can easily be avoided — so long as you know to avoid them.

The Couch Is Not Your Friend… Resist It
Working on the couch sounds like a dream come true, but this soft heaven of pillowy goodness is to be avoided at all costs. The sofa is a place for relaxation and escape where you can huddle up with a coffee and binge-watch Netflix — not somewhere that’s conducive to getting work done. So instead of flopping down on the couch for the work day, create a space in your home that inspires you to buckle down. A safe bet is a desk, free from distractions, and preferably by a window with lots of natural light!

You Will Want to Spend All Day In Your PJs — Don’t
If you freelance from home, it can be almost impossible to get dressed in the morning. What’s the point of actually putting on pants when you’re already wearing pajamas, right? Well, getting dressed (as you would for an office job) can be the motivation you need to actually sit down and jump-start your day, and will put you in a “work” frame of mind as opposed to an “I should probably catch up on celebrity gossip for about two hours” frame of mind.

If It’s Not For Work, Don’t Do It
Facebook and Twitter’s siren call is a force that most of us are powerless to resist, which is why some companies block the sites internally. Unless you’re networking for your business — which you very well might be! —  try not to hop onto social media during your workday or you might end up tumbling down a rabbit hole of BuzzFeed quizzes, and wasting valuable time in the process.

No TV. No Netflix. Yes, Really
It’s 2pm and you’re feeling completely uninspired. As tempting as freelancing makes it to give yourself a much-deserved break with an episode of Breaking Bad, try to ignore the fact that your television is just one room away and begging to be turned on. Like social media, entertainment consumption should be saved for post-work hours, so do your best to separate business and pleasure.

Get Up Like You Are Going to Work
While the rest of America is rushing to work in order to punch in by 9 am, most freelancers have the luxury of skipping the commute and setting their own hours — which means the temptation to sleep in can get truly overwhelming. However, getting an early start to the day is the best way to ensure you have plenty of time to get your work done, and you’re around during the same hours as your clients (or potential clients), which is pretty key for marketing.Be vigilant about scheduling. 

Even if you do get up on time, a lot freelancers still find themselves working odd hours because they spend all morning doing household chores and pushing back their deadlines until 10 pm. One way to avoid this is by treating your business life like that of any typical employee –– start work at 9 am, take an hour-long lunch break, and then get back to the grind until 5 pm. This can also help fight the temptation to get in a few hours of work late in the evening, or when you should otherwise be relaxing. Remember: Boundaries are really important.

Being Your Own Boss Means Actually Being a Boss
One of the best parts about being a freelancer is that you aren’t accountable to anyone except yourself (and your clients), but not having an authority figure review your work and keep you on your toes can be a challenge. If you’re going to be your own boss, be a tough boss by setting strict goals for yourself, making sure you meet them, and even doing a “monthly review” of your progress. Consider having meetings with yourself to set clear goals, and then being honest when if you don’t meet them.

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Mehera Bonner

Mehera Bonner is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.