Working Smarter When You’re Self-Employed

Working Smarter When You're Self-EmployedHow many hours do you work each day? How about each week?

I used to spend an extremely long amount of hours each week working, but I have really cut back.

Has my income taken a hit? Nope.

Instead, I am trying to be smarter about the way I work.

It does help that I completely eliminated my old day job, but I have also learned how to work smarter, instead of working harder. Yes, I still work hard, but I am more smart with the time that I do have.

Below are my tips to work smarter when you’re self-employed.

Have a plan.

I always have a plan of what I need to do each day, each week and so on. I schedule everything onto my phone, and onto the notepad on my phone. This way I can easily see what needs to be done. I also never forget what needs to be done.

Without my lists and plans, I would be completely lost! I also really need it because I have a horrible memory…

Work when you work best.

There is a time when everyone works best. For example, I know online freelancers who can only work in the morning, and then I know others that can only work at 2 a.m. Everyone is different, and you should figure out when you work best so that you aren’t wasting a ton of time.

I like to work a little bit right when I wake up. However, I know for a fact that working when it’s super nice out usually does not work out well for me. I get preoccupied with wanting to do outdoorsy stuff, and it takes me 10 times longer to complete any work that needs to be done.

Also, I know that working late at night is not for me either. I used to be able to do that, but it doesn’t work well for me anymore because I am usually just too tired.

Get rid of anything that is causing you to slow down or procrastinate.

Do you have a lot of distractions around you when you are trying to work? I know I do!

It’s a big time suck too. I’ll open up the fridge or look to see what’s on TV. Heck, sometimes I’ll even work out or clean. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like what I do – I just get easily distracted and other things will continually run through my head until I do it.

So, what I try to do now is seclude myself. I won’t turn on the TV, I’ll work out first thing in the morning, and so on.

I try to eliminate all distractions so that I can really work.

Hire out what you need to.

I’ve used this example a few times, but it is a great one. When I used to work in retail management, there was a person who owned a store next door. It was a sports store that probably had a few hundred thousand dollars worth of inventory.

This store didn’t last very long. I can’t remember how long it was, but it was only around for just a few months. This guy poured his life savings into his new business.

Yet, he never hired a single employee.

He did EVERYTHING.

When I say everything, I really mean everything.

He was the cashier, he was the customer service, he cleaned the floors, handled all the inventory, did the accounting, was the manager, and everything else that you can think of.

His store eventually closed because he was too cheap to hire anyone, and he also never wanted to hand over any responsibility to anyone. He had no trust.

Fact is though, that if you have a growing business, ONE DAY you will have to have someone help you out. Whether you hire someone for just a few hours a week or if you have a 100 person company, a growing company will eventually need more help.

You might need a cashier, a virtual assistant, an accountant, a lawyer, or something else. If you can’t do something 100%, then you should always think about hiring the job/position out.

If you think that you can almost do something well, then you should research the pros and cons and really think about what you value.

 

Are you trying to work smarter?

 

Photo via Flickr by Purple Slog

 

Taking A Vacation When You Are Self-Employed

Taking A Vacation When You Are Self-EmployedI switched to full-time self-employment back in October of 2013, and I will be honest and say that taking a vacation is much more difficult than I thought it would be as a self-employed person.

It’s tough because of multiple reasons:

  • I enjoy what I do. I don’t feel like I need as many breaks like I did when I hated my job.
  • I want my business to succeed. I know that a one week vacation wouldn’t kill my business, but my business is still so new that I want to pour all of my time into it.
  • It’s hard to break away. I do so many different things that I think it would be very hard for me to take time off. I need to be better with delegating tasks so that I can take a vacation. I also need to work on scheduling more work ahead of time so that I can relax on my vacation.

There are many reasons for why vacations are important, and that’s why I think everyone should take them if they can. A vacation can really help lower your stress. It can also rejuvenate you and actually make you more motivated when you return to work. They are also fun and allow you to explore a new place!

Here are my tips to take a vacation:

Try to get as much done ahead of time.

One thing that I always try to do is to get as much work as I can get done. I usually write somewhere around 20 articles each week, so I will try to write more than usual so that I don’t have to worry about writing while I am on my vacation, as well as writing the few days after I come back from a vacation.

I try to make a to do list of everything that needs to be done and I will go through my list and tackle as much as I can before I actually leave.

This takes a significant amount of stress off of my plate, and it really helps me enjoy my vacation.

Let your clients or customers know that you will be gone.

In some industries, it is a good idea to let your clients or customers know that you will be on a vacation.

In most cases, they won’t even notice that you are gone, but there are probably certain circumstances where they should know ahead of time.

Have someone help manage your business while you are gone.

Even just hiring a virtual assistant to reply to e-mails or handle non-emergency issues can be a lifesaver.

It is usually best to do a test run before you head out on your vacation though so that any problems can be cleared up ahead of time. It takes out a lot of the stress while you are on vacation to do a test run.

Take your vacation during a slow time.

If you want to take a vacation, usually it is best to take one during a slow time. Taking a vacation during a peak time for your business will just add extra stress, and you may upset customers as well.

Lastly, try to take an actual vacation!

I am guilty to opening my laptop and working whenever I am on vacation. I don’t even remember the last time when I took a vacation and did not work at least a few hours each day. It’s like an obsession, I just have to work!

However, you should truly try to enjoy your vacation. Turn off your cell phone, laptops and everything else if you can. If you can’t go the whole vacation without working, try to limit it to certain parts of the day and give yourself a working limit as well.

If you are self-employed, do you find it hard to take a vacation? How about if you work for someone else?

When’s your next vacation? Tell me all about it! 🙂

 

How To Find A Writing Job

How To Find A Writing JobI started staff writing in 2012. It hasn’t been a very long time since I started writing online, but the amount of writing jobs that I have has grown significantly over this two-year timeframe.

Currently, I write over 20 articles each week. Some weeks I write much more than that, some weeks a little less.

Writing online is one of the many services that I offer through my freelancing business, and it is what helped me leave my day job to pursue freelancing full-time. Because of this, I receive many e-mails each week from readers asking what they can do to get into online writing.

You may have to start out small.

Many writers start out by taking free or low-paying jobs. Some say that you should always start out strong, but I think that in the beginning these low-paying jobs can help you build your portfolio. I don’t know of many people who will pay a new writer the same as they pay a highly experienced writer.

It can also help you determine if writing is for you. If you’ve never written for someone else before, then it might not be the best idea to start out with a full-time writing job. You might want to try just spending a few hours each week writing, to determine if you really like it.

Figure out what topic you want to write about.

Some writers decide to write about all sorts of topics, but many choose to narrow it down to one or two. I mainly write for finance and travel blogs. Finance is something that I enjoy talking about, but travel helps me branch out a bit and write something new every now and then, which I love.

There are many different niches out there: lifestyle, finance, fashion, travel, family, education, business, home, DIY, and more.

Have a website.

If you want to write for others, then you will need to advertise your services in some form. I don’t have a website dedicated to my freelancing services, but I do have Making Sense of Cents where I have a page dedicated to the different services that I offer. It has helped many clients find me.

Search for writing jobs.

If you are not having much luck with your writing website, then you may want to try searching for writing jobs yourself. I have done this many times, and I have found many successful writing positions this way.

There are two main ways to do this: search job boards and/or find websites that you are interested in working for.

Job boards such as ProBlogger will list available jobs. Website owners list their jobs on their job board and it can make it very easy to find available jobs. However, the search doesn’t end there – you still have to apply for the writing position and be accepted.

The second way is to find websites that you are interested in writing for, and personally seeing if they have any writing positions open. They might have a “Career” section or something similar that directly says if they have a writing job, or you might have to reach out to someone at the website/company to see if they are looking for a writer.

Whatever you do, always make sure that the website/company that you are going to write for is a real one! I always do research before I say yes to a job, because you don’t want to waste your time and not get paid.

Do you have any writing jobs? Why or why not?