8 successful years of freelance, tips and tricks

Good day to all, evening, hello colleagues.

Today, looking at the calendar, I realized that this month I am celebrating 8 years of successful freelance-employment. This is not to say that over the years I had to constantly learn something new for myself in organizing the process of work, however, each newly acquired knowledge improved either the quality of my work or the quality of my rest.

I would like to talk about the features of freelance-employment for people who have never done this, but would like to have a set of useful tips when they want to try it. Getting prepared is a good idea.

I would like to note in advance that the experience described here is my experience. I would not want this text to be perceived as peremptory truth or an attempt to embellish one or another approach to work. I will be pleased if at least some of these tips will be useful to someone.

Background


It all started corny - I was a developer, and I did not want to work in the office. I didn’t want to get up an hour and a half earlier than I could, just to stand an hour in traffic, without having to eat breakfast. I didn’t want to shake in the evening in the subway car, crammed full of the same unfortunate people, angry to the point of frenzy, ready to fall on other passengers for any reason. I didn’t want to come home loaded with groceries, prepare dinner for myself, and, looking at my watch, understand that the day is over and there is enough remaining strength except for delivering the body to the bed.

The labor market, of course, did not share my desires, over and over again providing office work. It was clear that it was necessary to start doing something, and I began to work on two fronts - in the office and on one-time remote orders, which I could only find in the framework of my specialization. It was a difficult period of my life, since it did not make sense to combine work for me - I always preferred the principle of “one case at a time”.

This stage could be passed with less loss, having a certain supply of funds that would help me in the absence of orders or in the “dead” seasons (summer, holidays of the country of the company for which you work).

The first stage of work with a large number of completely different customers helped me to make out some very important principles:

- always be prepared for the fact that you will be “thrown” - your safety is in your hands;
- Do not promise what you can’t do and never try to impress the customer with understated deadlines;
- Always know exactly how much your work is worth, and do not reduce its cost.

Place of work


Losing the opportunity to come to the office at your workplace, sit on a chair already purchased for you and work on the purchased computer, you get the opportunity to buy a really comfortable chair and high-quality equipment for work.

If you have finally decided to try to work at home, make sure that your workplace completely satisfies you. At the same time, remember that you should approach the choice of things in the workplace in the context of work, rather than the usual pastime at the computer. You can choose a stool, a negotiation table or work standing up - anything, if only it would be convenient for you.

Work environment


It should correspond to the specifics of your work and be as convenient as possible for you. Remote work increases the need for quick communication with colleagues / managers / subordinates / clients. At your fingertips you should always have a telephone, skype, telegraph, whatever you want to ensure a quick reaction to a sudden situation that requires your participation.

Your work environment should be as isolated as possible from the people who live with you. It can be a separate room or, at worst, a screen. If you use your home workplace with someone, you will have to explain the importance of changes in your work environment. You should not be distracted by the sound of water in the bathroom, the rumble of pans in the kitchen, or the barking of a dog in the hallway. During work, you should always be ready to get in touch with people who need your consultation. Remember that your workplace is your castle.

Tools


Customize your tools so that you can work with them even with your eyes closed. Your productivity will now almost entirely depend on how comfortable you feel in your software. Everything should work quickly, clearly and in the way you expect it to. Performing an important part of the work, you don’t really want the system to be unstable, part of the software required updates, and the other part ran out of use licenses.

Another side of the work at a distance is the need to coordinate with other employees. If the company where you work has adopted the standard for using a specific version control system, be sure that you know it as well as possible, or at least so well as not to break anything.
You must have a time manager. With it, you can soberly evaluate your productivity and even determine how well you manage your time. Your tools should work as you expect, should not slow down your work and take up your working time.

Family and animals


A very important point of this article. With a very high probability you will encounter an incorrect attitude of your family / partner / other inhabitants of your home towards you.

Having tuned in to full-fledged work, you will understand that you are not perceived as a person who is really busy with work. You will be visited 10 times per hour behind your back, asking you for advice, asking to put a kettle, take out the trash, see "weather for tomorrow in Yandex." They do not want to offend or distract you with this - this is the problem of not understanding the importance of concentration. You must make it clear that sitting down at a computer at a certain hour, you “disappear” from the apartment. You cannot be called, you cannot fulfill a couple of elementary requests, you cannot be distracted by the discussion of news.

Understanding will not come immediately, however, after some time both you and your family (if you live with someone) will enter this rhythm, and it will become quite familiar to you.

If you have pets, be prepared to explain to them why “daddy / mom” is at home today, and cannot play with them, it will be much more difficult than for people. Usually animals understand well what their owner wants and will not bother you once again, however, if they continue to “play” with you without your consent, everything will come down to either isolating the animal in another room or training it. In the morning, at lunch and in the evening, you can always take the time to your pet.

The working process


Work outside the team makes a number of changes that are not visible at first glance. The most important of these changes is that your work is no longer controlled as it was done in the office. At first, it’s not easy to get used to it, especially if the spirit of bloody dictatorship and constant supervision was in the air at your previous place of work. For you, this can turn into a common mistake made by all beginner freelance workers - I will talk about it below in the section “Frequent Mistakes”.

The absolute advantage of working at home is the ability to follow at least the minimum recommendations for people who spend most of their work in one position: knead muscles, do eye exercises, in general, all that can save you from a number of occupational diseases. It’s great if you were able to do the same things in the office, but practice shows that usually this is not possible.

Recreation


You must rest. You must take breaks during your work. These obvious truths are not always taken seriously. Health is the most important indicator of your productivity in general and your well-being in particular. You probably already know the limits of your body’s capabilities: your “working” hours, the time when you need to rest or how many hours you need to sleep in order to feel like a person.
There is absolutely no need to violate these limits - respect your vacation.

Common mistakes


Emergency situations

Did any of your relatives go to the hospital? Is your ISP running out of internet? Pancakes of your old hard drive melted and stuck together? You should have a quick way to notify your colleagues and management that you will not be at the workplace in the near future, and an estimated time to return to duty. You can make a call, send an electronic message using someone else's computer, or send a pigeon with a note - the main thing is that your management knows that you have not gone to sunbathe to the south and just at the moment solve specific problems. This becomes especially important when either the whole project or its critical part depends on your work at the moment. In this case, you should delegate your duties to one of your colleagues, if possible. Make sure что у вас есть контакты ваших коллег.

Frivolous attitude to freelance-work

This happens with the vast majority of developers who have been working remotely for some time. The only person who now controls your employment is yourself, but we are all people and our convenience is above the interests of other people (especially those we work for). If in the office you couldn’t spit on the ceiling with your feet on the table, you can do it at home sitting on a soft sofa. Also, do not underestimate the huge number of distractions - it can be an interesting site, or a magazine brought by your spouse, or anything else that can tear you from work.

The recognition of the fact that you can cheat and not be caught, in most cases ends with a disregard for work: appearing at the workplace much later than it should be, hacky tasks and lack of feedback from you.

All this undermines your professionalism and general working spirit, therefore, if you began to notice that you do not devote enough time to work, use the timer to determine the time of your actual work. Even the need to turn the timer on and off when you are distracted by something else will help minimize such interruptions.

Underestimated time

If you happen to work in a company where your payment is equal to the time spent on the task, be sure that you take into account all the time that was spent on the task. This includes analysis, clarification of requirements, consultations with colleagues, search for existing solutions / tools / tips, implementation and documentation time, time for testing and debugging, time for launching the required task into work. Most developers ignore the accounting of these working moments, which do not take a lot of time individually, but make up a large percentage of the working time, which may ultimately remain unpaid.

Hatred for your home

I seriously doubted whether this item should be included, but not including it would be a mistake. Perhaps many of those who will try themselves as a freelance specialist will be able to avoid this problem. I hope so. The specifics of the work of an IT specialist only seems to be a calm process, partly due to the fact that professionals prefer to control themselves, partly because people can cope with stressful situations. When you work in the office, your official environment is the best shield against stress and the best cure for hostility to certain working moments, whether it is disputes with colleagues, misunderstanding of bosses or incorrect behavior of clients. You leave the office, and all your hostility remains within its walls. You may feel bad even when you get home, but the main load remained there, where you left him - in the office. Working at home, you will not receive such a gift. All your tension, all your discontent and unresolved problems remain in a sacred place - your home. You must force yourself to quit work as soon as you get up from the desktop in the evening. You must completely throw thoughts of work out of your head. Such training will take a lot of time, but it is extremely necessary, otherwise you will hate your house. The ideal option is when you can take a walk immediately after completion of work or at least just breathe air on the balcony, take a bath, try to relax as much as possible and clear your head. Leave work at your workplace, your home is a sacred place.

Processing

As your work experience at home grows, you will notice that many tasks that used to take up most of your time are now solved much faster and better - the convenience of your tools or the help of your home environment can affect. At this stage, you must restrain yourself from trying to work more than your body can withstand. In many cases, your payment will directly depend on the time you spend. Having completed the task faster, you will be able to take up the next project or a project with a higher stake, forcing yourself to work two or three times more than usual. Do not forget that now you are the boss of your time, so treat yourself and your abilities with respect. I don’t need to tell that only 4-5 hours of working time are really productive, and staying in the workplace in an attempt to earn money at the cost of one’s health is a bad idea. Consider the capabilities of your body, try not to work more than usual.

"Inactive" mood

A bad mood is visited by absolutely all people who are engaged in any kind of work. Even classes that did not interest you at all in your free time will be extremely desirable for you during your work. You just need to get used to it. Very soon you will realize that your well-being and ability to support yourself and your family depend largely on willpower, which will help you overcome your unwillingness to work as soon as possible.

People / Events / Important Things

Starting to work at home you will realize that many events in your life require your direct participation, whether it be going to the hospital or the need to pick up your son from school. Of course, you also encountered this while working in the office, however, being part of a single mechanism with an eye to the possibility of losing your job and the reaction of colleagues, we rarely allow life priorities to prevail over workers' priorities. As a result, we are treated on our feet, we ask our loved ones to help with the housework, we are exhausted in an attempt to stay within the framework of a successful existence.

Remember, work is not your life. You must consider your interests when it comes to your life or your loved ones. I would like this last point to be understood correctly. I understand perfectly well and in no way dispute the need to maintain a job, wealth and reputation, however, you must remember that not a single job can replace your health, and no reputation will help your family if they need your help.

I hope that the experience described above will help you, thanks for your attention and good luck!