The Art of Balancing Freedom and Discipline as a Freelancer
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It can be easy to become intoxicated by the freedom of self-employment. But if you succumb to that, you may never get any actual work done. Today, let's talk about balancing the freedom of freelancing with mustering up enough self-discipline to be successful at it. It's not as difficult a balancing act as you might think.
We all love the freedom of freelancing, but…
First and foremost, let's acknowledge that freedom is one of the biggest reasons why nurses become freelance writers. In many ways, writing is the exact opposite of nursing, we have the ability to choose our own projects, set our own hours, and work from virtually anywhere. But without discipline, it's easy to get overwhelmed or lose focus. Or you might start enjoying the freedom of freelancing so much that you suddenly feel resistant to the idea of going into the office at all. That's not good.
So how can we find the right balance between that freedom and discipline as writers?
Time management is your friend
We’re going to suggest that achieving that balance simply requires decent time management skills. For many freelance writers, time management starts with establishing a routine. Tip number one? Set specific working hours for yourself. Why is this important? Well, for one thing, it helps you avoid burnout by having the mindset that you should be working all the time or working during every available moment you have.
As a matter of fact, you do not need to be working all the time to succeed as a freelance writer.
For many nurse writers, you're better off investing a few highly focused hours on a regular basis than trying to work in 15- or 30-minute increments whenever you can spare them. On the flip side, having established business hours gives you permission to enjoy your downtime. After you've put in that four or 12 or 20 hours a week that you decided you would invest in your business, you can get up from your desk, close your office door, and go enjoy yourself without feeling guilty or feeling like you should be working more. And speaking of closing your office door, if at all possible, set up a dedicated office space for yourself. Serious businesspeople have serious offices, and you should approach your career from the same perspective.
Added bonus: you can post your business hours on the door to convey to any family members that they should not disturb you while you're working. Because you're working.
Nurses excel at prioritization
Another important aspect of managing your time effectively is prioritizing. As nurses, we are experts at prioritizing. Apply those skills to your freelance business by writing down your goals for the week and the day. And then break those goals down into manageable tasks. Develop a system to track deadlines and hold yourself accountable.
When you're creating a business routine and setting priorities, think about non-client work that needs to get done and schedule it on a recurring basis. For example, running a freelance business requires performing certain administrative functions regularly. You'll want to file client's emails into a dedicated folder or apply a tag to them.
You’ll also need to issue track and follow up on invoices to keep your cash flowing. If you are uber-geeky about freelancing, then you'll want to create separate files for every client and place all relevant administrative paperwork in there, such as the contract between you, scope of work documents and everything else like that.
Doing administrative tasks sounds boring, but it need not feel like drudgery if you schedule them to occur on a routine basis, such as once a week. But, certainly, 20 minutes of administrative work once a week beats two hours of at once a month.
The importance of professional development for nurse writers
Speaking of non-client priorities, we recommend you set aside time each week for professional development.
The writing industry is constantly changing, and you can maintain a competitive advantage by staying abreast of the latest developments in your industry. This may mean dedicating 15 minutes per work date to scanning sites like the Content Marketing Institute or to participating in freelancer communities like RN2writer’s Success Society.
Don’t forget the freedom part
Lastly, to achieve that balance between freedom and discipline as a writer, don't forget the freedom part. It's vital.
As a writer, you are a creative person. You should take time away from the office to nurture your creative side. This might mean visiting art museums, doing crafts, painting, hiking, or anything else YOU consider creative. These creative activities will show up in your writing.
You may find yourself using more active verbs or more engaging turns of phrase in what you write. That type of creativity delights editors, and you can constantly cultivate it by engaging in creative activities outside of work.
Leave work behind
Finally, when you close your office door for the day, leave your work behind you. This concept can be difficult for nurses who often think about their work all day every day, but that's exactly the kind of stress we want to alleviate as freelance writers. Remember: you can't expect different results by taking the same actions over and over again. Train your brain to leave your work behind the minute you close the office door so that you can enjoy the other aspects of your life.
And that's it for how to balance freedom and discipline as a freelance writer. Practice good time management by setting your business hours adhering to them prioritizing tasks in your business, and then leaving work behind when you leave for the day. Once you find this balance, your freelance life will improve tremendously!