When I hear the term minimalist, I think of zen and balance, as well as simplicity.
As you develop your freelancing portfolio and career, one of the keys of long-term success is simply to keep a balanced lifestyle, which often boils down to a minimalist approach to life and work.
Within the context of freelancing, minimalism is removing distractions; clearing the desk (and mind) of anything that isn’t needed to get the job done.
After enough time in the industry, it’s easy to pick up activities and habits that simply take away time from meaningful activities. The following is a guide to minimalist freelancing and your start to a more balanced career.
A Full Plate
Everyone has heard the term “less is more,” and in freelancing applying a minimalistic approach can help you stay more organized and focused. While multiple requests for your businesses services is what you strive for and are causes for excitement, it is important for you to stay focused on your ideal customer.
Everyone has heard the term “less is more,” and in freelancing applying a minimalistic approach can help you stay more organized and focused.
If you do not stay focused, your excitement will soon turn to frustration — both on your part and the part of the customer.
Take new projects on in only small portions. You may find when you look at your portfolio of clients that you have a few in there that take far more time and energy than everyone else does.
Consider letting these difficult clients go once you are able without hurting your cash flow. Imagine eventually replacing them with someone similar to your favorite customers! While it can be intimidating to turn down work, especially as a freelancer, if you can replace the difficult clients with the ones that take less time and effort, you will make more for your time and at the same time reduce your work-related stress.
As a freelancer, you set the tone for your work environment. To have a relaxed, organized business, begin by eliminating your chaotic tendencies. From the start, excellent time management will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Come up with a plan on how you want to structure your day and stick with it, for the most part. Of course, there may be changes in the day which you need to adjust to, but the idea is that giving each task its own place in your day will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Atmosphere extends to your location, too. How can you make your immediate environment a better place to work? Should you crank up your favorite rock tunes or work in silence? Maybe you should start bringing your dog to the office.
Whatever list you come up with for improving your place of work (whether in an office or a home office), choose with purpose. Find what works, helps you eliminate distractions, allows you to focus, and stick with it. Your work atmosphere is an important part of a minimalist approach because you end up clearing out those things that distract, allowing you a more focused workspace.
Focus Your Efforts
Take notes! This habit may seem unnecessary at the start of your business launch, but as you grow you will be thankful that you have learned to write everything down.
Keeping a list may be tedious, but the first appointment that you miss because you thought you would remember will quickly illustrate the importance of organized note taking. To reiterate, this will eliminate the chaos that can start to ensue.
At some point, you will exceed your memory’s ability, so better to start writing things down now.
This extends to everything from keeping a running daily checklist, to marking events on your calendar, and project management. The key here is to have a process in place and use it. Whether you physically write on a legal pad or keep track of everything on a digital device, it doesn’t really matter how you write it down as long as you have a system in place you consistently use to keep track of everything.
At some point, you will exceed your memory’s ability, so better to start writing things down now. For instance, if you have repeat clients, take notes on their preferences and requirements so that even if it has been only 2 days or as long as 2 months, you can more quickly get them exactly what they need…and look savvy doing it too.
A minimalist approach requires clear organization. You need to know exactly what tasks you should be performing. Ideally, you’ve prioritized tasks clearly so you know what’s most important.
If you tackle tasks as you go, you may very well end up down a rabbit trail of unimportant activities – which is a huge waste of time and energy. Having a process for creating tasks and tracking progress is a critical way of keeping distractions out of your way.
Know when you need to start hiring. At the beginning, you may feel that you can handle every aspect of your business on your own, but this will soon change. For many freelancers, a goal is to eventually expand their business. The first few hires are critical, but don’t think you need to bring on full-time staff at first. You may just need some part time staff to take some administrative pressure off of you.
The key is to find areas that are holding you back and finding the right person to help.
The key is to find areas that are holding you back and finding the right person to help. Also, keep in mind that you can hire help as a contractor or virtual assistant rather than an employee to further reduce time involved in taxes and other such tedious tasks.
Unfortunately, hiring help is one of those parts of minimalism that gets worse before it gets better. Hiring can be terribly distracting. But once you have the right help in place, have outlined procedures, and trained them to manage key tasks, that part of your business is no longer a distraction to you, leaving you much more free to focus on the important tasks.
Understand that going minimal does not mean that you are minimizing your business, product, or vision. In other words, minimalism is doing away with the unnecessary obstructions that can happen in day-to-day operations, leaving only the necessities needed to bring in the money.
Taking great care to keep from feeling overwhelmed comes from structuring your work schedule in a way that maintains the important business and removes unnecessary problems that will constantly try to interrupt.
The more you get used to being a minimalist, the more you will automatically see distractions that slow you down. In fact, you may notice minimalism influencing every part of your life, and before you know it, you’ll develop ways of streamlining and focusing even your personal decisions. The result is more time to do what you want to do, whether its work or play.