Many of us make New Year’s resolutions based around our health or how we spend our time. But your work life deserves a refresh too, so here are four resolutions to make 2019 a sparkling year for your freelance career.
Practice self-care while you work
Unless you’ve been on another planet for the last few years, you will have heard that prolonged sitting is now known to be a very serious health risk—even if you’re a regular exerciser.
So if you’re working at a desk, resolve to take regular short breaks where you get up and move about. Consider investing in a standing desk or a stand that converts your existing desk.
If you’re a screen user, taking regular breaks will also help to reduce your risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), caused by your eyes struggling to cope with glare and readjust their focus as they flick between tabs, images and text.
This strains your eye muscles and can cause dry, red, irritated eyes along with blurred or double vision, headaches and neck pain.
To reduce your risk of CVS, ensure your monitor is around twenty to twenty-eight inches away from you and follow the 20/20/20 rule: every twenty minutes, look away from your screen at an object some distance away from you – preferably twenty feet or so – or just look around your room for twenty seconds.
Installing a dimmer switch in your workroom will reduce the glare in your workroom and a glare filter for your screen helps too. Adjust your monitor’s settings for brightness and contrast (accessible either via your computer or on the monitor itself, often on the underside at the front).
Reduce your risk of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or back problems by keeping the area under your desk clear so that you’re not sitting at an angle, sitting as close as possible to your desk, and adjusting your monitor’s height so that it’s at eye level. Keep your hands and wrists warm, consider a wrist support, and use ergonomic keyboards and mouse-mats.
It’s worth checking your posture regularly to make sure you’re not slouching, leaning forward, craning your neck or hunching your shoulders—and checking your chair. In the ideal chair, your back should meet the back of the chair, your knees should be level with or slightly higher than your hips, your feet should rest comfortably on the floor, the seat should support most of your upper thigh, and your lumbar region should be supported (a cushion that fits snugly into the curve at the small of your back can help with this).
Make a New Year business plan
Assess your income and your job satisfaction over the last year. Did you achieve everything you wanted to?
If not, consider the changes you need to make. If you want a higher income, do you need to pitch for larger projects? Spread your net wider for leads? Target a wider and/or more wealthy demographic? Offer additional services? Review your rates? Dispense with clients who are poor or late payers?
If a lack of job satisfaction is a problem, plan to gradually cut back on the work you enjoy least, while working to bring in more or the type of project you enjoy the most. If unreasonable or difficult clients are the issue, perhaps it’s time to replace them with clients that are easier to work with, but you may have to weigh income against happiness here! You should also think about how you promote your services and which promotion method gets the best results. Focus your efforts and time there in the New Year.
Finally, make sure you’re moving forward, not just standing still. Your industry and the world around you will be constantly moving on, and you need to keep up. Get the training and qualifications you need to ensure your skill set is still relevant and in demand.
Get in a regular back-up habit
Even if your work isn’t remotely technological, you probably use technology to run your business, even if it’s just to store client details. For many freelancers, their work, contracts, invoices and communications with clients are all held on a computer.
If your phone or laptop was stolen, lost or infected with a virus, would you be able to access ongoing projects, client contact details and financial records? Having everything related to your business backed-up is absolutely essential. Consider using the Cloud or an external hard drive – or even better, both. Make back-ups a regular part of your routine.
Review Your Productivity
Are you as productive as you could be? Productivity isn’t just about working hard—it’s also about working smart. Yes, it’s important to look at your work schedule and adapt it so that you eliminate as many distractions as possible and work when you’re least tired and prone to interruption. But it’s also important to ask yourself if the tasks you do make the best use of your time.
Could you automate or outsource some tasks, or partner up with someone? That two hours of work you put into your website may have been done in 15 minutes by an expert, and while that will cost you money, how much could you earn in that two hours? One task well worth outsourcing is accountancy and book-keeping, especially completion of your tax return. An accountant could save you time and stress (and surprisingly, often money; they know exactly what you can claim for). That time saved could then be spent doing what you’re good at (and getting paid for it!)
The New Year can be a great time to take a fresh look at how you freelance and put strategies in place for a happier and more successful working year. With no employer to ensure your standing and income rise as you gain experience and knowledge, it’s up to you to ensure it happens!
Have you set any New Year’s resolutions for your freelance business? Let us know your plans below.