Freelance In 40 Days [Day 38]: Freelancing Zen

Posted: December 10th, 2009

Photo By Iane Machado (Flickr)

Photo By Iane Machado (Flickr)

This is Day 38 of the Freelance in 40 Days series where you’ll learn to freelance just by taking it one day and one task at a time. Today you’ll see ways to improve your daily life that will positively affect your freelance work.

A freelancer could have the best computer, desk, comfy chair and office possible to do his or her work more effectively.

Even these won’t make you work the most effective way possible if you don’t learn to develop good habits during your working days. Sure, we do have those habits that carried over from our previous jobs.

Surfing the internet, munching on snacks, wasting time in general. Sound familiar?

So it’s good to start out with good habits to improve how we work as freelancers. The following are some ways to do this:

Manage Your Time Wisely

Almost everyone falls for distractions while working. Whether it’s checking up on scores, reading the latest news or gossip out there or seeing what the buddies are up to on Twitter, we all do it. Freelancers are especially susceptible because no one looks over their shoulder to say, “hey back to work!”

Distractions for freelancers don’t necessarily affect your productivity, but they do kill your time. That time could be spent with family, starting up new hobbies… reasons you became a freelancer in the first place.

Here’s a little technique that I tried with great success which isn’t hard to do at all:

  • Set blocks of time during the day, say 2 – 3 hours, where you work and only do work. No distractions. Make these during the times of the day when you work the best.
  • Then set aside blocks of time for your distractions of maybe an hour or three if you are a real net junkie.
  • When you start a work block, concentrate on nothing but the work for the first 15 minutes. The rest of the time will follow suit.

The desired outcome is that you’ll notice you get more work done in less time. Then you may hopefully notice those distraction blocks take up time where you could be doing other more productive things.

The whole idea is recognize where your time is going and determine where it could be better spent. Distractions might not be your thing after all.

Eat Right

What you eat directly affects your energy levels throughout the day. Eating junk food gives you a quick energy spike then negatively impacts your energy levels  making you feel sluggish on after. Being sluggish does not help the freelance worker.

If you are not already eating healthy balanced meals, I’m not saying to drastically change your diet. That never works out. You can however, get in the habit of eating a few pieces of fruit a day just to start out. Then eventually incorporate a salad a day into the diet. The junk food gets naturally replaced with the healthier food in the process.

Also replace those chips and other carby snack foods with raw nuts. You’ll see after a while that eating healthy impacts your health, how you feel and how you work.


Probably 99.9% of all freelancers spend the day in front of a bright flashing rectangle. In other words, we don’t move around much during the workday. Though we can’t really take a walk while finishing up that article draft, this is not healthy for us.

Doing some kind of physical exercise where we breath heavily and break a sweat (sex not included) does wonders for our physical health and increases our energy level. Start out by going to a gym, going out for a brisk walk or jogging a few times a week for a half hour or a full hour if you can.

I guarantee you’ll notice a difference in how you feel.

Get 8 Hours Of Sleep a Night

There will be times when you have have to pull an all-nighter or two to get a project done. This happens on occasion. For the rest of the time, however, stick to getting eight hours of sleep a night. No more and no less. Our energy level is optimal with this amount of time for sleep.

Take a Day Off When You Need It

Ask any freelancer and he will tell you of the many times when he was stressed with project deadlines, client arguments and just too much work at the moment. There will be those times when freelancers are stressed beyond belief. Working with that stress, though, impacts our work by decreasing our motivation in doing it.

So take a day off.

Of course this is extremely difficult for a freelancer to do since it is viewed as a working day lost. The reality is taking a day off to clear your head will ease that stress enough to where you can go back to work the next day and handle your work with more calm and focus.

But do keep these unscheduled holidays to a minimum. You don’t want a new bad habit forming.

Some Resources to Improve Your Freelance Zen

Zen Habits
As you can probably tell, I was thinking of this blog when writing this tutorial, but this IS the blog for tips on simplifying and improving your life and work. The advice in itself is easy to follow and do too.

Dumb Little Man – Tips For Life
The name says it all. Handy little tips we take for granted that helps us out in our everyday lives, from how to properly use a comma to creating more free time in your day.

The Positivity Blog
This is a great blog to turn to for that pick-me-up on whenever you need it.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

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