You’ve broken free. But fulfilling your dream of freedom and at the same time earning a steady income can be tricky. It may come down to balancing freedom with routine and structure…
Freedom and flexibility vs steady income
How to strike that balance between freedom and a steady income:
Develop a schedule with both structured and unstructured time;
Set boundaries for yourself and your tasks to give you “me time”;
Add nature to your routine to get that sense of outdoor freedom;
Be adaptable, adjust your schedule and priorities when necessary;
In your new venture, you want the freedom to set your own schedule, take on projects that interest you, and make your own decisions…right?!
The problem is that without structure, you can easily get carried away with distractions and lose focus on your goals. Still, with too much structure, you run the risk of stifling creativity and having tasks feel like chores.
In all self-driven earning opportunities, we need a balance between freedom and structure. The research of Schwartz (2012) informs us how when people have too many options they “become paralyzed and disappointed rather than liberated”.
Importance of Balance
After overcoming your fears and breaking free… finding the right balance between freedom and structure can be challenging. But it’s essential to have a levelled work ethic.
Here are some tips to help you achieve this:
- Set clear goals and deadlines for yourself to provide unstructured times
- Create a schedule that allows for flexibility and freedom, such as setting aside time for creative pursuits or personal interests, maybe varying your work environment to somewhere outdoors
- Prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency, but also allow for some spontaneity in your schedule
- Take breaks and practice self-care to avoid burnout and maintain motivation
Spontaneity is the spice of life and can be what motivates and inspires us. I would say it’s a key part of freedom.
Remember that finding the right balance may require some trial and error. Be open to experimenting with different approaches until you find what ‘does it’ for you.
Establishing a Routine
Establishing a routine can help you balance the desire for freedom and flexibility with the need for structure and control.
Creating a Daily Routine
To stay on track and ensure that you are making progress towards your goals…
- Start by setting a regular time to wake up and go to bed each day. This will help regulate your sleep patterns and ensure that you are energised and ready to tackle the day.
- Schedule your most important tasks and projects first. Prioritize your time based on deadlines and importance. Make sure to schedule breaks and self-care, e.g., time for exercise or meditation.
- Use tools that help keep you organised
There are management tools, such as Trello or Asana, that people use to help them stay organized and on track.
You could opt for these or simply use your phone’s calendar or task app to create tasks, set deadlines, and track your progress, all in one place. A hard copy diary is another option that is time-tested and works when you’re out of network coverage.
Maintaining a Routine
Maintaining a routine can be challenging when you have the freedom to work whenever you want. However, sticking to routine as much as possible to ensures progress.
In keeping with a routine, try to work to a pattern each day. This will make it easier to focus on your work and create that time for your personal pursuits.
Take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout and maintain your energy levels. If your purpose is computer related, consider using the Pomodoro technique, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break, to help you stay focused and productive.
Be flexible with your routine when necessary. Life happens, and sometimes you may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate unexpected events or emergencies.
Establishing a routine can help you balance the desire for freedom and flexibility with the need for structure and control. By creating a daily routine and maintaining it as much as possible, you can stay productive and make progress towards your goals while still enjoying the freedom and flexibility of pursuing your interests.
Who doesn’t want the freedom to structure your day as you see fit?! This flexibility can be a double-edged sword, though.
The good thing – it allows you to take advantage of new opportunities and be more innovative in your work.
The not-so-good – too much flexibility can lead to a lack of structure and routine, which can negatively impact your productivity and striking that balance with freedom and flexibility.
Benefits of Flexibility
Flexibility allows you to perform when you are most productive. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others are better in the afternoon or evening.
By being flexible with your schedule, you can work during your most productive hours and take breaks when you need them.
Another benefit of flexibility is that it allows you to take advantage of new opportunities. If a client needs a project completed on short notice, you can rearrange your schedule to accommodate them. This can lead to new business opportunities and increased revenue.
Flexibility and Autonomy
Flexibility also gives you a sense of autonomy over your work. When you work for yourself, you get to make all the decisions about how you work and what projects you take on. This can be empowering and lead to greater job satisfaction.
However, it’s important to strike a balance between flexibility and structure. Too much flexibility can lead to procrastination and a lack of motivation. To avoid this, it’s important to set clear goals and deadlines for yourself and create a routine that works for you.
Setting Boundaries and Goals
As an independent worker, it’s important to balance that freedom with structure and routine. Setting boundaries and goals can help you achieve that balance and stay motivated.
Determining Your Boundaries
Determine what you need to feel secure and healthy in your work. This could include setting specific work hours, limiting the number of projects you take on at once, or taking breaks throughout the day.
It’s important to communicate these boundaries to clients or partners so they understand what to expect from you.
Create tools or systems to enforce your boundaries: For example, you could use a scheduling app to block off time for breaks or set up an auto-responder for emails received outside of your work hours.
Goal Setting for Success
Goal setting is another important aspect of maintaining structure and routine as your own boss. Setting specific, measurable goals can help you stay motivated and focused on achieving your desired outcomes.
When setting goals, it’s important to make them realistic and achievable. Consider breaking down larger goals into smaller, more manageable steps. This can make them feel less overwhelming to you and help you maintain momentum.
Tracking your progress towards your goals can also be motivating. Consider using a goal-tracking app or creating a spreadsheet to monitor your progress.
Remember, setting boundaries and goals is not about restricting your freedom, but rather about creating a framework that allows you to work more efficiently and effectively. By determining your boundaries and setting achievable goals, you can achieve the balance you need to be successful as your own boss.
Maintaining a happy mindset
Understanding the Impact on your headspace
When running your own enterprise, you have the freedom to set your own schedule and work on your own terms.
However, this freedom can also lead to added stress and anxiety, which can take a toll on your inner peace. It is important to understand how this can affect your overall well-being and productivity.
Anxiety and stress can make it difficult to focus on your tasks, leading to decreased productivity and overall dissatisfaction with your output.
Strategies for Mental Well-being
Maintaining mind-body-spirit balance is essential for your sanity.
Having a routine and scheduling breaks for “me time” is vital, as already mentioned. Some extra strategies to help you stay grounded include:
- Staying connected: Working from home can be isolating, so it is important to stay connected with others. Schedule regular check-ins with friends or colleagues to stay connected and reduce feelings of loneliness.
- Practising self-care: Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, gratitude journaling or relaxation time to help reduce stress and promote mental well-being.
As a freelancer or self-employed, it can be tough to stay productive. There’s no one looking over your shoulder, and it’s easy to get distracted by all the freedom and flexibility that comes with being in charge. But with a little bit of structure and routine, you can maximize your productivity and get more done in less time.
One of the best ways to maximize your output is to use productivity techniques. These are strategies and methods that are designed to help you work more efficiently and effectively.
I’ve already mentioned the Pomodoro technique.
Here are two other popular productivity techniques:
- Time Blocking: This technique involves scheduling your day in blocks of time. You assign specific tasks to specific time slots, which can help you stay on track and avoid distractions.
- Eisenhower Matrix: This technique involves categorizing tasks based on their urgency and importance. You can then prioritize your tasks based on these categories, which can help you focus on what’s most important.
Building and Leading a Team
As your own boss, you may find yourself building and leading a team. While you value freedom and flexibility, you also need structure and routine to keep your team on track. Here are some tips for effective team building and leadership, including remote work.
Effective Team Building
Building a team is more than just hiring people. It’s about finding the right people with the right skills and personalities to work together towards a common goal.
To build an effective team, consider the following:
- Define your team’s purpose and goals
- Create a job description that clearly outlines the responsibilities and expectations for each role
- Look for candidates who have the skills and experience to meet those expectations
- Consider personality traits that will fit well with your team’s culture
- Conduct thorough interviews and reference checks
- Provide training and ongoing support to help your team members succeed
Leadership and Remote Work
Leading a remote team requires a different approach than leading an in-person team. You need to establish clear communication channels and trust your team members to get their work done without constant supervision.
To lead a remote team effectively, consider the following:
- Use online collaboration tools to keep everyone connected and on the same page
- Set clear expectations for communication, availability, and deadlines
- Establish regular check-ins to provide feedback and support
- Encourage open communication and feedback from your team members
- Provide leadership training to help your team members develop their skills and build strong relationships
Building and leading a team requires time and effort, but it’s worth it to have a group of people who share your vision and can help you achieve your goals. With the right approach, you can balance the desire for freedom and flexibility with the need for structure and routine to build a successful team.
Engaging with Customers
Engaging with customers is a crucial part of building a successful enterprise. However, it can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you engage with your customers effectively.
Customer Service Best Practices
Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Be responsive: Respond to customer inquiries and concerns in a timely manner. This shows that you value their time and are committed to providing good service.
- Be friendly: Customers appreciate a friendly and personable approach. Use their names, ask how their day is going, and show genuine interest in their needs.
- Be knowledgeable: Know your products or services inside and out so that you can answer any questions or concerns that customers may have.
- Be proactive: Anticipate customer needs and offer solutions before they even ask. This can help build trust and loyalty.
Building Customer Relationships
Strong relationships can lead to repeat business and referrals. Here are some tips to help you do just that:
- Listen to your customers: Take the time to listen to your customers’ feedback and concerns. This can help you improve your products or services and show customers that you value their input.
- Personalize your interactions: Use customer data to personalize your interactions with them. For example, you could send them personalized offers or recommendations based on their past purchases.
- Show appreciation: Thank your customers for their business and loyalty. This can be as simple as sending a personalized thank-you note or offering a discount on their next purchase.
- Stay in touch: Keep in touch with your customers through regular newsletters, social media updates, or other forms of communication. This can help keep your business top of mind and show customers that you care about their needs.
Tip: Watch you don’t overspend your time on social media.
Continual Learning and Adaptation
Continuous learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills throughout your life. You’ll learn through your failures also.
Importance of Continuous Learning
It’s important because it keeps you up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in your focus area, helps you stay competitive, and enables you to innovate and grow your business.
One way to incorporate continuous learning into your routine is to set aside time each week or month to read relevant publications, attend information sessions, listen to podcasts, read updates from leaders in the field or take online courses.
By staying informed and up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and adapt to changes in your industry.
Adapting to Change
Adapting to change is a key skill in this area. As your venture evolves, you’ll need to be able to pivot and adjust your strategy to stay ahead of the curve. This requires a willingness to learn, experiment, and take risks.
One way to adapt to change is to stay aware of what’s happing with your competitors, customers and clients. By having an ‘ear to the ground’ you’ll be better equipped to make changes that will help your enterprise thrive.
Another way to adapt is to embrace new technologies and tools that can help you streamline your operations, improve your productivity, and stay ahead of the competition.