What I learned from my first week as a full-time freelance writer and editor

I have now survived a whole week working freelance from home! Overall, it’s been a blast. There’s been some ups and downs, but I am confident that this is the job for me at this stage in my life. I love it.

Working full-time from home as a freelancer has already, even in just one week, taught me a lot! Here are some of the things that I learned this week:

Day One – Monday, March 31

Freelancing – working from home and spending my time writing and editing and reading and making use of social media – is kind of perfect for me. You can read more about that in my day in the life of a freelance editor / writer article.

Day Two – Tuesday, April 1

This is not going to be an easy ride. A small part of me felt a little frustrated and dejected by mid-afternoon last Tuesday. It’s not that I thought it was going to be easy, but it became apparent to me by Tuesday afternoon that I would have to build a couple of key things into my day: a) getting outside, b) being around people, and c) taking time away from the computer.

I like the idea of going to a coffee shop (or, um, a wine lounge? ;)) to do some work, even for just an hour of the day. I’m not sure that doing so would be the best use of my carefully-saved dollars, but I think that every once in a while – perhaps once a week – it would be a nice change of pace (and wouldn’t break the bank!). I may try incorporating that soon to test it out.

Day Three – Wednesday, April 2

Boundaries are important when you work from home. I am tracking everything to the hour (and in some cases, to the half hour) of what my day involves, which is awesome, because it lets me see what time of day I start to fade and the ways in which I spend my time. I think I’ve been pretty good so far at balancing work and play while working from home, but it’s something I want to continue to track, at least for the next few months. It would be very easy to work anywhere from four-hour days to 14-hour days!

It’s also interesting, when you do start to “fade,” to look at the cause of it. Often when I thought I was fading, I just had to switch from working standing up (because I have a stand-up desk) to sitting down, or I’d need a glass of water or a snack, or I needed to do a little bit of exercise, or get some fresh air, or… it could be any number of things. Once I identified what the issue was – which was usually pretty quick – I was good to continue working.

Day Four – Thursday, April 3

Creativity is a tricky thing to factor into the day. One of the things I would like to do, as a writer and editor, is some creative writing. I’d like to publish a novel or a collection of short stories. I’d like to write screenplays. I’d like to see my poems in a magazine. At the same time, those aren’t exactly concrete, solid pieces of work that will pay the bills next month. It’s challenging to see how those could fit in to my day, or to really know at all at this point if that’s a good use of my time at the beginning stages of my career. For the time being, I’m going to slot my creative work for those times of day when I start fading from doing my more business-type work. It’s a nice compromise!

Day Five – Friday, April 4

Volunteering is important. I have been volunteering at a local radio station for more than two years, co-hosting a talk radio show, and I’ve also been volunteering for the Food Label Movement (which, since I am one of the leaders of the organization, has also fallen onto the back burner while I was myself burning out from my day job). Now I am excited to get back to more volunteering! I am setting aside a maximum of five hours each week to begin with for volunteer work.

Day Six – Saturday, April 5

Weekends are a weird time when you’re working from home. At least, for me, my first weekend was strange! When I had a full-time job, I used to fill up all of my evenings and weekends as much as possible with freelancing gigs (and blogging, which definitely went on the back burner these past few months!). Now that I can spend all of my daytime hours during the week on these things, I’m not entirely sure how to spend my weekends. Will I burn out if I just keep working? Is it better to take the weekends totally to myself to have fun and be completely away from the computer?

Again, I’ve chosen to compromise by working on personal projects (such as adding work from the past year to my portfolio and learning French) more heavily on the weekend than during the week, and also to spend the weekend getting away from the computer where possible, for the simple fact that it’s probably better for my eyes!

Day Seven – Sunday, April 6

A tidy, organized home makes me more productive – and even healthier! Throughout the week I was doing a pretty good job at keeping on top of dishes, vacuuming, laundry, etc. After all, doing some cleaning and tidying can be a nice break from work when your eyes are going buggy from the computer screen. But towards the end of the week, the kitchen counters weren’t as sparkling clean as they had been on Monday, and the blankets on the couch hadn’t been properly folded, and any number of little things just weren’t quite getting done as immediately as they had been earlier in the week.

The weekend is such a good time for catching up on things and getting things cleaner, tidier, and more organized. When the space around me is clean (and the entire condo has to be well-organized, since we live in an open-concept suite), I find that I’m that much more eager and motivated and excited and energized to work, exercise, and eat well. It’s interesting how that works!

Those are my learnings from my first week as a full-time freelancer! I’m excited to see what the coming weeks will teach me. What are some of the things you learned this week? Share in the comments section below!