Freelance Hacks for 2019

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Thinking of starting a business or going freelance in 2019?

Or maybe you’re already self-employed but looking to level up? Well then you’ll need to know it’s as much about setting boundaries, continued self-learning and setting new healthy behaviours if you want to find fulfilment and success. I co-founded my own marketing consultancy 2.5 years ago. Here are a few learnings of our own we wanted to share with you…

FIND A MIDDLE GROUND

“The most important inner work I’ve been focusing on is how to exist in the middle of my life. Not in the extremes.”
Jamie Varon, Friday Letters

You’ll not be a stranger to the terms ‘churn and burn’, ‘burning the midnight oil’ and ‘workaholic’ if you’re transitioning from full-time employment to self-employed life. Or if you’re in the process of turning your side hustle into a full-time endeavor then no doubt you’ve been through exhausting late nights, stressful deadlines whilst being faced with an ever-populating to do list.

First thing you need to do is stop and take stock. Before you plunge into your new existence you need to ensure you’ve set up some good working habits that allow you to work efficiently, effectively and with solid, healthy boundaries. Why? Because without these boundaries you’ll be working more hours than you need too, your creativity and output will be effected negatively and most importantly you’ll risk losing the joy of doing what you love. Start the New Year off by implementing a solid structure and rules that allow you to provide your best work yet that provide you with a productive and healthy environment in which to work in.

My hacks to help focus and provide boundaries:

  • Have a to-do list always hand written on my desk. Prioritise three tasks at any one time and don’t add another on your list until you complete one of these three. This will help you stay focussed.

  • Learn how to say no more. If the activity isn’t valuable enough and won’t help you reach your goals so give it some serious consideration before you commit.

  • Go with your grain. Know what works for you. I personally work better in the mornings so ensure I get up early to make the most out of my brain power. Don’t try and go against what feels right, everyone is different and there is power in knowing yourself.

Reading list:

  • Driven to distraction. A life-changing read on how to focus to achieve more efficient and effective work. This book provided me with the tools I needed to focus on what counts.

  • Jamie Varon: Writer of all the Feelings blog. I’ve only recently discovered Jamie but her work is honest, thoughtful and provides a refreshing point of view for women touching on self-care to managing a freelance career in the fast lane.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

“Practise isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
Malcolm Gladwell, The Outliers

I’ve just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, the story of success. It explores the myth that superstars, geniuses and successful entrepreneurs are just a rags to riches fairy-tale. Gladwell argues that in fact alongside a series of extraordinary opportunities, early advantage and privileged social standing (think Mozart, Bill Gates etc.) successful people have worked up to 10,000 hours before they mastered their given vocation.

In a world where we’re living in a throwaway society we’ve learned bad habits of skim read or reading top-line, black and white information that doesn’t mostly look to provide us with real truths, insights or truly valuable information, this was a reminder that to be really good at what you do you need to work hard at it. Taking the time to work on your self-improvement and promoting self-discipline in whatever you do is the only way to go from good to great. It will also provide you with that much needed head-start on all of your competitors who are cutting corners and thinking short-term with no vision in sight. When opportunity presents itself you’ll be ready and more than prepared to give it your very best shot of success. Clients and customers respect and buy into craftsmanship, cultivated talent and a business / person who has really taken the time to provide a solution to their needs. So whatever field you work in make sure you’re constantly learning, developing, debating and keeping on top of current trends and opportunities.

My hacks to help you think smarter:

  • Spend time each day reading something that makes your brain work and fuels your creativity. It doesn’t have to be directly associated with your business or craft but provides you with the thinking space to come to your desk with a fresh perspective.

  • Meet like-minded people in your community that inspire you. Ask them questions. Make notes. Exchange your working hacks with theirs.

  • Find a mentor. This can be anybody who you feel you can learn from. Provide them with a list of goals you want to achieve and then work at a structured pace which allows you to measure your success.

Reading list:

  • Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell. Being a genius will only get you so far. Learning to take advantages of opportunities, doing meaningful work you care about and working hard to gain mastery will provide you with the very best chances of success.

  • Shane Parrish’s Farnham Street. Looking to upgrade yourself? I absolutely love this blog and can’t recommend it enough. Aimed at wall street business types, entrepreneurs and the business community Shane’s blog provides articles, blogs and podcasts on mental models and beyond. I genuinely feel smarter after reading / listening to his work.

  • Get your Sh*t together, Sarah Knight. Sarah is here to kick-start us and give us the tools we need to truly live our best lives. Reading this book will give you the understanding on how to balance your work / life commitments and learning how to mentally declutter your brain.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

“Saving money isn’t about depriving yourself. it’s about deciding you love future you as much as you love today you.”
The Financial Diet

As millennials we’ve been accused of being frivolous with money and not very good at saving. But is this true? The economy has changed and evolved significantly in the past 15 years due to the rise of technology. Although we have get a bad rap for our love for avocados and uploading selfies of our most recent trips away arguably millennial’s have had a harder time than Baby Boomers to accumulate savings in part due to the recession and rising living costs. I’ve been guilty of living my life from pay-check to pay-check sacrificing long-term savings for instantaneous fun and adventure. However in the past few years there have been several resources popping up asking us to re-look at our relationship to money and have provided us with practical tools and hacks to be more mindful with our money. The results can be life changing.

My hacks to get you on the road to financial freedom:

  • Get a monzo card. For me this was life changing being able to see where all that contactless spending went and provided me with a practical tool to think about where my money was going. They also have some smart saving initiatives too.

  • Before you slash your spending or put together a tight budget understand the psychological reasons for your spending. Scared of #fomo? Keeping up with the Joneses? Be honest with yourself about how you can change your relationship with money before you go cold turkey with the cash.

  • Organise activities or events that are free or very low budget. In the past year i’ve gone hiking with friends, been vintage and charity shopping for clothes and have discovered loads of great free or in-expensive events in London. It’s easier than you think if you seek it out.

Reading list:

  • The Escape Artist: Ex-accountant and founder of The Escape Artist offers financial coaching and a series of blogs designed and taking you to financial freedom.

  • Money: A User Guide, Laura Whateley: I first came across this book when listening to the amazing podcast series by the founder of Women Who Otegha Uwagba. This book allows you to re-think your relationship with money and gives you practical advice on how to be more financial responsible in today’s capitalist culture.

  • How to retire in your 30s with $1million in the bank: This New York Times article talks about how millennials are quitting their high-pressure jobs and embracing the FIRE (Financial Independence, retire early) movement.

CREATE MEANINGFUL WORK

“Without work, all life goes rotten, but when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.”
Albert Camus

One of the things that dogged me most throughout my 20s was the overwhelming fear that I wasn’t producing meaningful work. Far too often we hear of employers and businesses that run an operation based on hierarchy and dictatorship which doesn’t provide the autonomy us millennials are so desperately looking for. Something that’s helped me is figuring out what drives you and what your personal values are. Once decided you’re then able to set out a clearer roadmap to guide you along a business journey that provides you with meaning, purpose and mastery. My two chosen values are Wisdom and Integrity. I chose wisdom so as to constantly seek out knowledge, prioritise my own self-development and learning and be careful who and what I surround myself with. Integrity is how I lead any decision making both in life and at work.

My hacks to discover how to create work with meaning and purpose:

  • Set your personal values. Think carefully about choosing these values and how they will affect your decision making in work and life going forward. I found the Dare to Lead book mentioned below incredibly helpful when working on this exercise.

  • Community over competition. We all have a sphere of influence and we can all affect positive change. As you grow in mastery share and exchange knowledge with others. Being freelance can be lonely and investing into the community allows us to be reflective and proud of the work we’re producing.

Reading list:

  • Dare to Lead, Dr. Brené Brown: The incredible Dr. Brené Brown has written some ground-breaking books covering courage, shame, empathy and vulnerability. Her latest book Dare to Lead gives you the tools to lead “with courage not comfort” and has some great tips and processes for choosing your values whilst carefully explaining how important they are in providing meaningful, impactful and rewarding leadership.

  • How to Find Fulfilling Work, Roman Krznaric. This is a practical guide that allows us to fully explore the meaning of work and how we shouldn’t be afraid or fear change. Roman looks back at our history and how our beliefs have changed over time with our relationship to work.

  • Adam Grant. I discovered Adam Grant after reading the amazing Option B he co-authored with Sheryl Sandberg. Adam seeks to look at better ways of working, what inspires and motivates us as human beings in this ever changing world and aims to help you get back on the road to loving and finding meaning in the work we do. I subscribe to his newsletter for regular updates on better working practices and habits and often share his insights with others.

Jess MacIntyreComment