It was the Autumnal Equinox on 23 September and with children returning to school and a general feeling of new starts everywhere, what better time to reassess your habits and fall (ahem!) into better ones? By habits we do, of course, mean your freelancer habits which, let’s face it, can easily become neglected. And once they’re neglected, they can actually become a hindrance to your freelance business.
So, which habits likely need a look at and what should best practice look like? The Kingsbridge team has put together some of the ones we hear about most often.
“Just one more episode and then I’ll get back to it.”
Box sets and Netflix are freelancer Kryptonite. You pop one episode of Friends on while you eat your lunch and before you know it Ross and Rachel are on a break, Phoebe’s had triplets, Monica and Chandler are married and Joey’s on his way to a cancelled spin-off. Oh, and you’ve not done any work all afternoon.
The solution is to be strict with yourself in whatever way works best for you. That could mean setting an alarm for when your break is over and switching off the TV at that point, allowing yourself a set number of episodes and then it’s back to work, or not watching TV at all while you have lunch if you really can’t trust yourself.
“I’ll just do my expenses next month.”
We bang on about this in quite a few of our blogs but that’s because it’s important. There are no rules to say how often you should do your bookkeeping. But there probably should be because we know a lot of freelancers who were never seen again after vanishing under a pile of invoices and receipts. Well, not really. But they were pretty miserable for a day or two while they tried to make sense of a year’s worth of train tickets and subscriptions. Try to do your books at least once a month so they don’t get on top of you. You’ll thank yourself come Self-Assessment time.
“I’ll sort out my insurance tomorrow.”
If your insurance hasn’t been renewed then please stop putting it off. If something goes wrong then you could find yourself in pretty hot water without it. But we don’t even have to be that dramatic. Not having the correct contractor insurance could simply prevent you being hired. Honestly, it doesn’t take long so sort it out on our website now.
“I’ll squeeze that job in. I don’t like to say no.”
The world won’t end if you turn down a job. If you don’t have capacity, it’s not worth stressing yourself out and losing sleep. Resist the temptation to keep saying yes to everything regardless. Saying no can be quite liberating and most clients will appreciate your honesty. If you’re worried about souring relations, see if the client would be happy for you to do the job when you’re less busy, or recommend a fellow freelancer as an alternative.
There are probably loads more habits you could work on to turn things around this autumn but these are just a few that we hear about the most. What are your bad freelancer habits you’d like to change?