The Freelancing Guide: How to Organize Your Work and Life | Faye Brown | Skillshare

The Freelancing Guide: How to Organize Your Work and Life

Faye Brown, Faye Brown Designs

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
7 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:36
    • 2. Scheduling

      11:12
    • 3. Doing favours for friends

      3:56
    • 4. Networking

      2:57
    • 5. Using your downtime wisely

      3:39
    • 6. Working around a family and other commitments

      4:39
    • 7. What's the secret?

      5:05
26 students are watching this class

About This Class

b6736bc7

In the second part of The Freelancing Guide I will talk you through some top tips to helping you stay on top of your work without losing your mind. I went freelance 7 years ago after a career working in a studio surrounded by people. I've learned a lot of tips along the way, along with juggling work and family life. I hope this class will help you start to feel control of all aspects of your life. 

We will cover:

Scheduling your time

Doing favours for friends (we've all been there!)

The importance of networking and socialising

Using your downtime effectively 

Working around a family and other commitments

The secret to a perfect work / life balance! 

aeb98444

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the class, The Freelancing Guide: How to Organize your Life and Work. I will share all the tips and techniques I've used to manage working around other commitments, whether that's another job, your family, walking a dog. For those of you new to my classes, I'll quickly introduce myself. My name is Faye Brown and I'm a designer and animator based in the UK. About six and a half years ago, I went freelance after working at various studios in London for about 10 years. There were a few reasons why I knew it was the right time to go freelance. Since then, I've done a mixture of freelancing other studios and working from home. Each have their own pros and cons. Working for yourself can be very rewarding and can help you get a better work-life balance around other commitments, but it can also come as a bit of a shock because you're suddenly your own boss. You are responsible for every part of your business running smoothly. I love working for myself and being my own boss, but you have to be aware that suddenly, you find yourself wearing a few different hats. Maybe you are a designer, but then, suddenly, you're also the project manager, the accountant, and a techie guru who has to fix anything that goes wrong. Actually, I'm not sure I've quite managed that one yet, but you have to take on a lot of roles. In this part of the freelancing guide, I will take you through some factors to help you keep on top of your freelance careers or running your own business, and help you stay motivated, and most importantly, stay sane. We will talk a lot about scheduling your work around other life commitments. I'll tell you the mistakes I've made and learned from, and ways to deal with unforeseen circumstances that you may have simply no backup for. In this class, we will cover scheduling your time and managing distractions, doing favors for friends and family, networking and socializing, how to use your downtime effectively, and working around a family or other commitments. I've another class in this series that focuses on managing your finances. Please do check that one out as well. If you're about to leave the comfort of employment to embark on a freelance career or starting your own business, then you should find this class useful, or perhaps, you've been freelancing for a while and there are a few areas that you find tricky. Hopefully, this class will help you, too. Let's start with that big subject of scheduling your time and managing distractions. 2. Scheduling: Early on in my freelance career, I took on a variety of work and often found myself working in a studio for a company one week and working from home with my own clients another. Now variety is great, but it can also be challenging. One of the pros for working for yourself from home or for your own studio is that you can manage your own time. But this is also one of the cons. Depending on your character and your work ethics some people find working for themselves gives them an enormous amount of freedom and a tickets to living the dream. This video is aimed mostly at those of you who work from home or completely for yourself. In other words you aren't traveling to a studio to work 9:00-5:00 every day. You are the one purely responsible for your time. This video is also useful for any of you who have another job and you are running your own business around that. So setting a schedule to work can help you stay on top of your work and life. You might need help to be more motivated to get up in the morning with no one checking if you arrive at work on time. You might work in your pajamas sometimes. You might easily get distracted by the TV, social media, housework, etc. Setting yourself realistic schedules to work with can help you work better and more effectively. The other major factor that will affect your work time is your other commitments. Maybe it's taking the dog for a walk, maybe you have another job, maybe you have a young family. There is a later video that focuses more on working with a family, but a lot of the same principles will apply. I'm not about to tell you that you must get up at 6:30 every morning and make sure you get x amount of hours sleep. We are all different. The key is finding out how best you work. I want you to go through these steps now. Step one, what time of the day do you find you're most productive with your work? Now if you are, lets say a wedding photographer, you might not have a choice of what hours you work. You'll probably be booked up for a whole day, but maybe you have a time in a day that you prefer to edit the photos after the event. Maybe you work for yourself, but you often need to plan your work life around other people. Let's say your mobile hairdresser or you do home tutoring, your work hours will be dictated a certain amount by other people. But maybe you can still try to fit your work hours into hours that suit you most when you can. For any of us who work as graphic designers, illustrators, artists, makers, you might find that your time is a lot freer depending on your outside commitments, and figuring out when you are most productive can help you work more effectively. For me it's definitely the mornings. For others it might be early evening. If you aren't entirely sure of your most productive time of the day, just try to take note over the next week, write down the hours you worked, how much you achieved, and what your energy levels were like. Were you most productive after lunch or maybe it wasn't until the evening when you felt most creative and raring to go. The next question or step, I should probably say is to write down all your commitment that are fixed throughout the week. Maybe that's getting the kids to school between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning. This isn't movable. This has to happen at these times. Maybe you do fitness class at the same time each week. Maybe it's sitting down for a family dinner. So just write a list of all your fixed commitments each week. Here's an example. Now in the next column write down a list of your commitments that are flexible, but they have to be done. Maybe that's walking the dog, the dreaded housework, going for a run, etc. Write down all your other commitments, and then in the fourth step we will figure out where to fit this all into your week or your day. One more step I want you to take is to write down how long you spend each day on average on emails, social media, and phone calls, and try to break this down into business-related and non-business related. I use Facebook for business as well as personal use for example. Now we get into the fun part of scheduling. In a class, resources is a weekly diary page and a day by day planner too. On the weekly diary page, I want you to block out any time you simply can't do any work due to other commitments. For me that's the school rounds with the kids the days my toddler is home. Maybe you have an exercise class or you volunteer, or you have another job, and then you see what you're left with. Block in any other commitments with family or other work. For now don't worry about the things in your life that may be flexible. We will talk about ways to fit them in around your work. For many that's things like housework or walking a dog or going for a run. Remember this class is about getting a work-life balance. It's important to not work every hour of the day. So try to block out some time for yourself to chill out, booking a small trip or drinks with friends or a meal out or maybe just some time to sit and read a book. Whatever you need to do to relax make sure you fit that within your schedule. These are my general commitments weakly. The things I know on the whole don't change. I've blocked out my child free time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as they are my dedicated time for work. I then use the daily planner to block out that time with more detail. Doing an exercise like this helps you work out what times you have available. I try to keep Saturdays and Sundays as free as possible as they are family days, usually there's a kid's party to go to or we go out for the day. We would probably use Sunday morning to do some housework, but it doesn't have to be fixed in place each week. Now set your work life hours with what's left and knowing what time you might work best. Maybe setting aside 30 minutes for a couple of evenings a week will help you keep on top of your social media, for instance. Then you want to fit all your other commitments into your schedule. But use this effectively. If you find that you lack energy in the afternoons, fitting in a dog walk or a run just before lunch, might help invigorate you for your afternoon's work. You might put aside an hour or two for some good, solid housework throughout the week. Your schedule will change week to week, but just by doing this general overview you'll see where you might have some gaps you can fit in a bit more work or do something that you just love to do. Keeping a schedule is all good advice for people who like working to schedules or for those of us who need more motivation and help with distractions. Some people like to work a little bit more relaxed or ad hoc, and I have some weeks where I don't schedule in so much and I can be a little bit more relaxed with my time. But if you find that you get stressed or your mind never rests with what you have to do, try to keep work into a schedule. Just give it a go for a week, see if it helps your workflow and also block in a time for yourself to do something you love. Included in the class resources, you can also download the Daily Do for free. I usually sell these in my Etsy shop, so please don't share it. These are just a little extra bonus for my students. You can use these to really plan out each day, make to-do lists and notes for the following day. I love lists. I write everything down mostly to clear my head at the end of the day, so I can get a good night sleep, and not keep thinking about everything I need to do the following day. Ticking items that you've done off your list has a good effect on your well-being. Wherever you work, whether at a studio or from home, at the end of your working day write down a list of tasks that you have to do the following day, and this might just help your brain switch off a little. You've written it down, you don't need to worry about it until the next day. Below here I posted a note with a link to an article about list making and David Allen's book, Getting Things Done for any of you wanting to dive a little bit deeper into list writing. Another idea you might want to try is the Pomodoro technique. Again here's a link to more info on this. The basic premise is to slot out 25 minutes of time with no distractions, no social media, no e-mails, and just get on with the task and then get up, stretch, do a quick chore for three or five minutes, and start again. After four 25-minute slots, allow yourself a longer break. You could do this technique and a lot of people swear by it. There are also some really good apps you might want to try out like Trello. Trello allows you to make lists and prioritize the work, and check it off as you complete it. Scheduling and planning your work is a big subject. But hopefully this is a relatively easy start to get you thinking more carefully about how you schedule your days and prioritize. Schedules are great, but we also need to be mindful that something might happen which disturbs your pattern. A doctor's appointment, a meeting you couldn't rearrange, a poorly child. So try to be open for a little bit of shift in your schedule sometimes. Some people would like to block things out to a minute or hour. Others will work better splitting their day into three parts, morning, afternoon, and evening, maybe even night. Experiment for a month on what type of schedule will work best for you. As one of your projects steps, share with us your schedule in the project gallery and let us know how you get on if you're new to schedules. I tried to set my schedule for the upcoming week on a Sunday. You will probably know if you have any doctor's appointments and meetings at that point, so you can then set your schedule around that. Don't feel your schedule has to stay fixed each week, sometimes it's good to mix it up and keep it fresh, just to experiment working at different times or doing exercise at different times of the day. But having a plan to work with can help enormously with stress that you might feel when you're feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do. Also sometimes your schedule might have to move. For instance, if you've booked a whole day to work on a project, but you're waiting for feedback from a client. Don't waste that time waiting. Move onto another project and move that into the space in your schedule and start working on that. Scheduling is by far the biggest challenge when working for yourself or freelancing. It'll take practice, and some weeks it would just go completely off plan, but coping with one week of mayhem is better than constantly feeling overwhelmed and out of control with your work-life balance. In the next video I'm going to talk a little bit about doing favors for friends. 3. Doing favours for friends: Doing favors for friends. I always feel a little bit guilty dedicating a whole video to this subject, but it's something you really need to manage as a freelancer. You can suddenly find a quick job that you agreed to do for friend has taken three hours and you're now working until mid night to get that other paid job finished. Then your friend comes backs and they ask you to change something and you think, why did I ever agree to do this? This can happen to many of us in many different professions. Maybe you help someone out with their accounts, or you design a print or someone you know, or you've been asked to take photos at a family event. There will always be friends that you will pretty much do anything for and they will do the same for you. I'm not going to say you should never do favors for friends. Best friends will go out of their way for each other. Other friends may trade skills. The problem arises when you're the one doing all the giving and that friend starts asking the world and if they aren't in the industry that you are in, often they don't appreciate the time and the effort as creatives might put into something those quick jobs that just always turn out to be those really long jobs. In an ideal world if money making was no issue, I'm sure we would all love to do favors for friends all day long but time is precious and sometimes we just have to say no or yes, but you need to pay me. After many years of doing favors for friends, here are some tips to dealing with the inevitable quick little favors you may be asked to do. Be strong and firm. Well, it's taken me a few years to get his point, I used to say yes to everything. I then used to make an excuse for not being able to do something like, "I'm so busy right now but I can help you out in a few weeks." Now, unless it's really one of those very close friends, I'll say something like, "It's really hard for me to take on any unpaid work at the moment, but I'd happily give you your friends discount of x percent." That could be anything from 10-50 percent depending on what you're happy with. But at least this way you feel like you've offered something. Honestly, in my heart I wish I could take on my advice fully here and not even make that initial excuse of being busy. We should be paid for what we do. We should value ourselves, but some friends can be exceptions. Friends who promise recommendations. I've had people who say, "I can't pay you, but I can recommend you to my whole network." Gee, thanks. Yes, recommendations are great and can lead to other work, but who are they actually recommending you to? What is the likelihood you'll get lots of work from that recommendation? My advice, if you're quiet and trying to build up a good portfolio, then why not take on some extra projects? But always make sure that you are benefiting from it in some way. That's not being selfish. If you want to succeed, you can't be doing freebies all the time. Friends who say, I can't pay you this time, but I probably have some paid work for you next month. Yeah, I've had that one too. Sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct. Is this person taken me for a ride? Or maybe they will have some more work for me? But again, there's no reason why you should do it for free. You have bills to pay too. You wouldn't ask a plumber to fix your toilet for free, but offer to pay him when you needed the sink fixed. If you feel bad for saying a simple no then just say, "I'd love to help out this time but I can't afford to take on unpaid work right now." But seriously if you can't, be strong and firm and politely say, "I won't work for free." The issue of helping friends will never be cut and dry, but trust your instincts. If you find yourself getting stressed because you have a lot of work on and you've agreed to do all these favors for people, it really might be time to start saying no. In the next video, we will talk about networking. 4. Networking: Working for yourself can be lonely if you don't go out and about, or have a network of people to chat to. Networking can also be a good way to find potential clients and customers. It can be a great way to meet a bunch of like-minded people and talk about your interests and your businesses. Being around other creative people can spark a lot of ideas off. This was the biggest adjustment for me when I left full-time employment. At first, I was freelancing at studios, so I still had a lot of contact with colleagues and a creative atmosphere. When I started working more and more from home, I really noticed the effect of not being around people. Your thought processes can get quite insular. Now, it was around this time social media was really kicking off and I found myself joining a lot of groups on Facebook and chatting with like-minded folk. But this was also a big distraction. When you can't do do those schedules, try to carve out time for your networking and socializing too. It's healthy and it helps, but your work still needs to get done. I used to live in London and worked in the center. At lunchtimes, I'd go to art galleries in the evening, I'd go to a pub or I'd meet up with some other designers. It was a very social and creative place. I took a lot of it for granted. Getting into an art gallery these days is not so easy around a young family. But I worked with some friends the other weekend and felt like I was really, really getting inspired being surrounded by all this art. Try not to think of these things as treats but necessities to keep that creative spark alive and your brain ticking with ideas. If you're a surface pattern designer, you can easily find inspiration from just visiting a fabric store or a card shop. Maybe you live in a small village where there aren't many networking opportunities, so why don't you think about setting something up yourself? Maybe a monthly meet up with people working in a similar industry, maybe as a craft night around someone's house, or a photography walk one afternoon, or arrange to meet up with small business owners in general. You never know when you can start helping each other out or giving each other some work. Maybe a photographer needs a logo designer. Maybe someone else needs some really great product photos taken. Supporting other small business owners is also a great thing to do. Often you find word-of-mouth grows and you'll be recommended to other people. A step 2 of your project, I challenge you to network in a different way within the next two weeks and share your experience in the project gallery. We can all get inspired by each other's experiences, so take yourself slightly out of your comfort zone and try something new. Go to a networking evening if you've never been to one before, for example, and do less [inaudible]. In the next video, we're going to talk about how to use your downtime. 5. Using your downtime wisely: Downtime. In most businesses, people will find that there are busy periods and quiet times. For me, quiet times usually January and August. Spring is usually quite busy. If you know that you probably have some quiet periods throughout the year, then tried to factor this in. Maybe plan your vacations around this period if possible, or set aside some time to sit back and focus on your business and your careers. Take some online classes, go to training days or exhibitions. Try to plan fun stuff into your day so you're still being inspired or learning as opposed to sitting in front of Netflix all day. Downtime can be frustrating, especially if you don't know when your next paid job is coming. But getting yourself out and about can lead to more opportunities, whether that's free people you meet or a new skill that you've learned. Or maybe you decide to use your downtime to really try something new. After I had my first child, I took some time off as maternity leave. After taking a year off work, getting back into it and making connections again, wasn't going to happen overnight. I used my official workdays to create my first online class. It was web-scale share called The Art of Typography. I had no idea where this would lead or if I'd make any money out of it. At first, I was really nervous about filming myself and looking back the class, I do cringe a little bit. It got easier and I loved the whole process. Then when the course went live and I start interacting with students and got a massive best from it. Now, this is my 14th class on Skill Share. I've totally fall in love with online teaching and make some nice money from it in the process. It's led to other opportunities too, like public speaking on branding. My point here is I try something new in my downtime and it led to this. I should also say, I've tried other things in my downtime that haven't worked out quite so well. But I always think trying and failing is better than never trying at all. As Henry Ford said, the only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. You might decide to open an Etsy shop selling some of your products or prince, or launching a range on a print on demand site like Society 6, you might decide to upload some photos to a photography stock site, or maybe it's time to redo your website or start a blog. If you're really stuck for inspiration, throw dice and pick something off this downtime dice game that I've made for you. These can all be adapted to fit into 30 minutes of downtime or a few weeks at downtime. You've got things like trying something new. I've liked this one really open. Maybe it's visiting a new place, picking up a camera or a pencil or learning to say, refresh or redo your website, start a blog or write an article for a blog. Read a chapter or a whole book on subject close to your business and your career goals. Teach. Can you partial knowledge and experience onto someone in some way? Maybe it's reaching out to one person or reaching out to a 100 people. Number 6, if you've fall Number 6 taken online class or course, obviousy, this could be something that you find on skill shares, it's only 10 minutes or maybe it's a course that lasts for a couple of weeks. Just try and use your downtime as effectively as you can. 6. Working around a family and other commitments: Working around family and other big commitments. This doesn't necessarily have to be children. Maybe you care for a relative for instance, or maybe you have a nine to five job and your dream is to run your own business and you work on it whenever you can. Family commitments can be the trickiest element to juggle when working for yourself. Unexpected illnesses, various appointments, whether that's schools or hospitals, counseled events or play dates that you had planned on happening to get some extra work done, etc. Just the other week I've taken on a big job and even put my daughter in for an extra day nursery so I could do it. Then she got the sickness bunk and I panicked it to if i'm honest, I usually try to take on jobs that have a decent deadlines so it allows for anything unforeseen happening. But this was a good job and I knew the deadline was going to be tight and even when I said yes to the job, I literally said to myself, I hope my kids don't get ill. They did. The deadline was tight and the work had to get done. When you work for yourself, you generally don't have someone else in your department who can pick up the project. If you are also the primary caregiver to your children or family members, you can find yourself in trouble. You might be a single parent. Your partner might work away. You might have other family members around that can help. But even if you did, you probably don't want them catch in a sickness bug in this case. Everything falls on you. I won't lie. It wasn't a pretty week there was some late evenings working and I felt very stressed, but the job got done. The clients were happy and my daughter, quite like sitting in front of the TV on one of the days. It's not ideal, but sometimes something has to give. Although this was definitely a blip and in retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have taken on that job with such a tight deadline. There were certain things that you can do to make your work life easier around family commitments. I will come to the other commitments another job in a minute. Try to allow for the unforeseen. I didn't do this in this case. I usually do. I usually only take on product projects with decent deadlines. I never leave anything until the last minute. I will start on a project as soon as possible. Always aim to deliver in advance of any deadlines. Have a support network. This might be family, this might be friends and depending on the issue, they may or may not be able to help. If you could really do with a few more hours work, could your friend have your kid for t and you repay favor another time? Keep a diary, a calendar, or schedule. I never had any idea how much stuff you have to remember for school. Kids shows, fancy dress costumes, after-school clubs. Treat this like you would treat your work schedule, book in and make this costumes in advance not the night before. Be honest with your customers and clients, being a parent or having something to do with families might be a big part of your business. Share your story with your customers if they know you are a parent for example,and so are they. Most of them will understand when something might not go fully to plan. Also, if you work part-time, clearly let your clients know what days you work, they can plan around you to. This advice also applies to any of you who have other job commitments. Maybe you are trying to set up your own thing but you can't leave your current job yet. Or you want to test the board before going completely solo. Use the scheduling advice above in the same way, completely blocking out your other work hours and now figure out what you are left with. When you want to work. Maybe you're quite happy working 9-5 and then getting home and working on into evening and you're doing your own thing. Or maybe you prefer to keep your evenings free and work on your dream job at the weekends. Again, being honest with your customers and say when you work or what hours you are available, and allow yourself a little bit of extra time [inaudible] for instance, whatever it takes to make your life a little bit easier. If you are working towards your dream of setting up working for yourself, that you're constantly feeling tired and stressed. It will be easy to let that dream slip away. As it will seem like it's hard work or you'll start to lose a passion for it. Start off with small steps and build on those as you can. Maybe you can start to do less hours at your other job commitments. For instance, if your bosses allow. 7. What's the secret?: The secret to achieving a work-life balance. We've spoken a lot about tips that might help you achieve the ultimate work-life balance that we strive for. But this actually exist and what's the secret? The secret is all about your attitude. Your idea of a good work-life balance will look different to someone else's. But if it works for you then that's the key. There's a new term that might take over work-life balance called work-life integration. A term many millennials may already be familiar with. Forbes magazine describes it as, ''Where professionals have to blend what they do personally and professionally in order to make both work.'' Technology has bought on this new way of working, with many people not being able to turn off, for example. It's not always a bad thing though. Technology might also allow parents to get to their kids sports day, for example, as they can still check their e-mail if they really needed to. More people can work from home. The boundaries between work and play gets less defined. Richard Branson is quoted as saying, ''I don't think as work as work and play as play. It's all just living. '' Richard Branson has spoken a lot about creating a perfect work-life mix. His six top tips are to rise early, limit screen time, write lists, make time for sports, make time for loved ones, and embrace something new. If you'd like to read a bit more about his tips then do check out this link below in the notes. The secret to it all is creating the life that you want. It doesn't matter what other people think either. If you're checking your e-mails at your kid's sports day, there will always be parents who won't agree with that. But if that's the only way you can be at your kid's sports day then, so what? Our boundaries between work and life are getting more blurred. But if it's working for us and our families then it honestly doesn't matter what other people think. If you hate the idea of checking your e-mail at your kid's sports day, then create the life where you don't need to do that. Let your customers or clients know that you're simply not available at that time. I'm sure most people can wait a few hours for reply if they really needed to. Working out what is acceptable and not acceptable for your ideal work-life balance will help you make those steps to achieve your goals. Write down what is most important for you. For me, I love my work and feel grateful to do a job that I truly love. But I still get those times where it's tricky to fit it all in around family commitments. I like to be able to go to all the kids concerts, the Christmas shows, the sports days, etc. It can still be a juggling act but nine times out of 10 it does work. Now studies have shown that those people who enjoy their jobs are more likely to say that they have a good work-life balance. That's not taking into account how many hours they work, it's just a general statement. There might be someone that works 70 hours a week, but if they enjoy their job, they still might think they have a good work-life balance. If you enjoy what you do, you're going to view it less like work. Sit down and think about what aspects of your work that you don't like. Is there an area which you could try to change or adapt and make it work better for you? Just to recap a few of the tips from this class, these would be my top three pieces of advice to start with. Set schedules and write lists. It will help you stay on top of those to-do lists and help switch your brain off from constantly thinking about what you need to do as long as you make them realistic, of course, and tick items off your list as they get done. Be honest. Let your client know when you work and set realistic deadlines. Completing the project early will please your client much more than working into the early hours for final changes before the deadline date. Most clients will respect the fact that you might have other commitments to work around and prefer that you are honest with them upfront. If you really don't want to tell your client that you can't work a certain day because of family commitments or another job, tell them that you're booked up that day with another project already, then they'll think you're in demand. You aren't actually technically lying because your other project might be your family. Find time for you. Make sure you find some time in your week to do something you truly love whether that's socializing, reading a book, swimming, or knitting. To achieve a work-life balance, you need to make sure you do something that makes you happy, and then in turn that will affect your mood with your other commitments, keep you fresh, and creative. Now, Richard Branson is probably the best advocate for that. Start making little steps today and let us know if you start seeing a difference in your attitude and well-being. Thank you for watching. Don't forget if you do need some pointers and advice for managing your finances whilst freelancing, then please do check out my other class here. The link is below in the notes. Bye.