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Freelancing While in Free Fall: Tips, resources, and worksheets for keeping it together in the midst of chaos

All of our chaos looks different and enters/exits our lives at different times.

You may be in free fall because of a change in relationship status, a drop in your income, or your overwhelming and unexpected success that you now have to figure out and manage.

There is also the distinct possibility you feel like you’re in free fall because you have your entire family which includes 5 children that are all home all day for the summer while you are trying to sell your house, find a new one, complete a course on DIY design for brand identities, and run a design firm.

Oh wait, that last scenario was all me.

Needless to say, I’m speaking from experience here.

Tips on how to #freelance during free fall (you know...when everything is chaos). #solopreneur Click To Tweet

All of the things in this post can help you at any time during your freelance career, but they are especially helpful in free fall.


Free Fall Tip #1:
Forgive Yourself

It is hard in these streets for anyone with a side hustle or a non-traditional working situation.

Shoot, it’s hard for those in a cubicle as well, but if you are freelancing and things are chaotic all around you, you may come upon a time, or twenty, that you have to forgive yourself.

Maybe you missed a deadline or you wrote an entire response email and never pressed send.

(No! I have never done that and shame on you for implying otherwise.)

Whatever the case, you can’t allow your mistakes to take you out of your game completely.

I, too, have totally participated in the self-pity spiral before, but there is nothing at the end of it except more people that you let down along the way, more missed deadlines, more un________ (fill in the blank) and unfinished work that will still need to done.

That’s not the road to take.

Instead reward yourself for things you are doing right while in free fall.

Celebrate the mediocre and leave your extraordinary moments for your more stable times in your life.

Need some reward ideas?

Idea #1 – I love to find Outlet Deals on Amazon. Especially when it’s something that has been marked down and then it is shipped for free because it is eligible for Amazon Prime. Try getting yourself something fun and affordable.

Idea #2 – Also, it is always cool to go somewhere new and meet people you have never met. Reward yourself by using a cool app like Field Trip to find new things in your city. It’s available for both Android and iPhone.

Idea #3 – How about joining a subscription service? Maybe for each goal you accomplish, you can add another month to your subscription. There are so many cool ones. For clothes, try StitchFix or Gwynnie Bee (for curvier women like myself). For food, try Plated for full meals or Graze for yummy snacks.  Or, if you are into crafts/jewelry, try For The Makers or Umba Box.

Reward yourself for the little things when freelancing in free fall. It will keep you going. Click To Tweet

Free Fall Tip #2:
Recognize the Value of 10 Minutes

Have you ever sat down to work, but your environment was so out of whack (laundry to fold, dishes to clean, sales tax to file, emails to answer, etc.) that you actually felt guilty for focusing on what you are passionate about, your business?

It’s such a catch 22 because if you spend the time doing all of those little things, you end up missing something else.

I’m going to share a very helpful tool with you that I created.

It is your 10-minute strategic planner.

This thing allows you to plan your day while inserting those small to-dos sporadically so you know they will get done.

These 10-minutes slots can also work great for quick breaks.

Need some examples? Here are few things you may need to handle during those 10-minute moments that will free you up to work on the good stuff:

  • load/unload the dishwasher
  • get in some quick exercises and/or stretches
  • brainstorm ideas for blog posts
  • retweet some of your favorite tweets
  • watch something funny on Youtube
  • play a quick game online or with cards

If you plan it . . . 

Use this quick 10-Minute Moment planning sheet to map out your day with your 10-Minute Moments built in. Imagine how productive you will be. I’m excited for you!

10MinMomentsImage

Download & use these free 10-Minute Moment planning sheets for a more productive day. Click To Tweet

Free Fall Tip #3:
Stay on Top of Your Emails

I know they just emails you may have been expecting something more groundbreaking, but be honest. Emails can suck the very life from your body.

OK, that was dramatic, but they can definitely suck your time.

Making the choice to stay on top of your email flow while you are in some sort life changing, free fall situation can save your sanity.

Here are some tips that can help:

  • Explore your archive features for your email. With Gmail, you can change your “Send” button to “Send and Archive” so every time you finish an email, Gmail will archive it for you and get it out of your inbox. It doesn’t delete it. You can always search and find it later.
  • Use separate inboxes for business and personal. If you are like me and have multiple businesses, then you will want one for each. You can honestly stay more organized when you can knock out one inbox at a time.
  • Send your social media updates into a specific folder. Most email clients allow you to set filters and it will automatically send emails to the folders you set.
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted or unnecessary listings
  • Use a plugin like Boomerang (for Gmail) to schedule emails so you can send when you need to not matter when you are replying.

Free Fall Tip #4:
Organize and Clear out

There is nothing more relaxing than a clean, organized space.

When you look around your house (not just your workspace), everything should have a place (even if everything isn’t in its place).

And what I’ve learned from selling my house (and having to keep it perfect with 5 kids home all day during the summer . . . am I a little bitter?) is that you can keep things much more clean and organized when you have less stuff.

That’s right.

Get rid of some of it.

Don’t know what to do with some of it? Let me help you out.

Donate

I realize this is the most obvious and it can be the most inconvenient, but the truth is that there is someone out there that can benefit from your donation.

Do me a favor and keep or throw away your raggedy stuff that you think is amazing.

Only donate stuff people can actually use. Research local donation centers in your area, but, of course, there is always Goodwill and Salvation Army. Remember, these places take everything from electronics to clothes.

Sell

There is nothing wrong with making a little money on the side.

I have a few suggestions outside of just selling on Craigslist.

ThredUp is a combination of donation and sales. You donate your clothes. Whatever can be resold, you get paid for. Whatever is left, they donate for you.

Or, if you have really high quality items that you just want to sell, try a site like Tradesy. You set the price and they show you the commission.

Organize

It’s not just enough to get rid of stuff.

You have to organize.

This is when I turn to Pinterest. Who better to give you great ideas than people who have already made them a reality!


Free Fall Tip #5:
Laugh at Your Life

Everything has its time in your life from people to situations. There isn’t much that has stuck with me from day one.

When you are trying to run your business in the midst of a free fall situation, your circumstances can feel permanent and ANY little thing can take you over the edge.

Please take my advice, and find the funny things in your circumstances.

When you are trying to take some dishes to the kitchen in between calls and you drop a cup with old coffee in it, take a minute to giggle.

When you hit your toe because you’re focused on your phone instead of trying to walk, laugh a little.

Remember, it is temporary.


Free Fall Tip #6:
Automate for Productivity’s Sake

Give yourself a break.

Maybe you are superman/woman normally, but right now is not the time to prove it.

You are in free fall remember? Automate as much as you can, so your business can keep going while you aren’t.

Here are some resources for you:

  • Meet Edgar
  • Buffer – Supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ Page, & Pinterest (premium account only)
  • HootSuite – Supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Google+ Page. Also you can add “apps” to view other accounts like Instagram and Gmail.
  • Social Oomph – Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages, and groups), LinkedIn (profiles, groups, and company pages), RSS feeds, blogs, Plurk, and App.net
  • IFTTT or Zapier – Create custom automation

Free Fall Tip #7:
Just Start Whatever You Need to Start

Our tendency is to save a project for the “right time.”

Honestly, I’m not even sure what that means anymore.

During freefall, there is no right time.

You just have to start.

Even if you just knock out a small part, just start.

There are a few ways you can get your ideas out of your head and jumpstart your process.

1) Do a brain dump. Write as many notes and thoughts on your subject as you possibly can then walk away. Revisit it again when you are a little more fresh. You will also get a new perspective on what you wrote.

2) Read through your brain dump to develop certain ideas and make connections. You may find that some ideas were ridiculous while others lead you to an entirely new project.

3) Create an outline or a task list of what needs to be done. Knowing what you are up against can be intimidating, but at least you know. Not knowing will always leave you in the dark in regards to the progress of your project.

4) Just start chipping away. If you are like me . . . getting a large chunk of time to accomplish anything isn’t typical. Don’t let that detour you. Just keep coming back to it and handle the project little by little.

5) Use a template to get going. In my shop, I have a number of design templates that can help you accomplish your tasks.


If you read this to the end, you probably needed some support. 

But I know I’m not the smartest cookie in the room (Is a cookie even smart? Delicious, yes, but smart?), so share your free fall tips!

Share the Knowledge!

3 Comments

  • Crystle says:

    I love this. I am in a different-ish situation, where I’m stuck at ther beginning, looking at all of the possibilities and thinking, “I want to do them all, but that’s not possible/reasonable, nor do I have the confidence to do any of them.” But I have to start somewhere, I’m just scared. Scared I’ll lose many opportunities by focusing on a select one or two. I’m an idea person, not a doer.

    However, this post does still apply to me, especially the 10-minute thing. I was wracking my brain looking for a way to be more productive, and I had thought of what I called “bursts” where I would do as much as possible for an hour, and hope it works. I like your ten-minute idea so much better! I can combine it with the rewards system (though most rewards don’t work for me, because I know I am able to approve/deny the reward, and I easily become sneaky with myself to get it) where the reward is a bit different: it is a shift in focus. Normally I hate to shift my focus (I’m an over-focused person, it almost physically hurts to lose my concentration) but I do recognize I need a break now and then. It won’t necessarily be to do something I would consider especially fun, like a game, but something moderately so, like writing down ideas for my stories.

    So thank you! I am off to try this idea, and hope you get some relief (I have 5 brothers and sisters, the youngest is 6, the oldest is 28, and the rest are in their teens, so I feel your frustration!) I know you love your kids, but I also know as much as we love someone, we don’t need to spend every second of the day with them, which is why I am hopeful you will get some time to yourself to relax or shift focus.

    Take care,

    Crystle

    • Brittany says:

      Crystle,

      Sorry for the delayed response. I hope some of this works for you and if you figure out anything new, let me know! I’m always looking for new ways to manage this life of mine.

  • Niraj says:

    Excellent article, Brittany. A well-written piece indeed. Following these tips surely help one remain calm in the midst of chaos, slowly get back on the feet and kickstart life again. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at grexit.com)

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