Being your own boss: How to stay accountable as a freelancer

Setting your own schedule is nice, but it can be challenging. Take a look at this guide to learn how to start being your own boss and staying accountable.
Being your own boss: How to stay accountable as a freelancer

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Are you a freelancer like me? Thinking about starting your own freelancing empire? Let me tell you your biggest obstacle – self-discipline and staying motivated. Becoming a successful freelancer is not without its challenges.

If running your own successful business was easy, well, everyone would do it. You need to reach down deep and find the best version of yourself. Being your own boss may seem like a dream come true but it will quickly turn into a nightmare if you are unable to fight the productivity monsters and win.

Today, I would like to share some gems I have learned over the years to help me reach my freelancing goals. Let's have a talk and see if I can save you some pain.

Build a sanctum

Distractions are the enemy of productivity. When you set out to work, you need a place of solitude that promotes focus and concentration. Easier said than done.

I am a single father of two kids, so take my word when I say that finding a place and time for uninterrupted work in my home has its challenges. For me, I find that when the kids are sleeping I have some peace, so I schedule my most important work time early in the morning and late at night.

Your personal life, of course, has to work into your work life but it is important to keep them separate. Find a place or room in your home that you can get away from the ongoings of the rest of the house. Make clear boundaries with your family and friends.

For me, I busy my kids with something and tell them that Daddy has to work for a while, please don't disturb me. It doesn't always work, but for the most part, if I make it clear to them I need some time, they try to let me be. When you work from home, it is imperative that you separate a place that is for work and nothing else.

Think in blocks and chunks

When you have a traditional job, your time is clearly theirs. When freelancing, you have to fight for your time. Scheduling time is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, you need to plan time for work. On the other hand, you can easily be pulled away from your work and give in to the temptation to put off that time till later. Think about it.

If you are the boss, you have to make yourself accountable for your commitments. If you promise yourself that you are going to do something, is it not all-important that you honor that commitment?

The trick here is to be reasonable with yourself. Don't commit yourself to huge blocks of time. You would be amazed at what you can accomplish in 30 minutes of pure focus.

I find it helpful to put up a timer on my computer. When I find some time to work, I set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes and, no matter what, I use that time to work on my freelancing. If for any reason I am interrupted, I either ask for the time remaining or I pause the timer and take care of the "emergency" before returning right back to the time block.

Don't beat yourself up

Celebrate your independence and roll with the punches. Nobody wants to fail themselves and it can be very hard to get past disappointments when you don't reach your goals. In order to be your own boss, it is of the utmost importance that you value yourself.

There is nothing wrong with having high expectations and striving to reach ambitious goals. Yet, when you fall short, don't forget to congratulate yourself for the effort. Even if you have not yet had a great day or week, look forward to improving the next day.

Rewards are important

Have you ever wished your boss would show appreciation for your hard work? Nothing changes when your work for yourself. Ask yourself continually – what do I want in life?

If you want more time to pursue hobbies, give yourself a deadline and make that commitment to yourself. When I finish this assignment or project, I am going skiing this weekend. Having something to look forward to really helps you stay motivated and complete the tasks at hand.

It doesn't have to be a big thing either. I find it helpful to break my projects down into more manageable chunks. I concentrate on one small part at a time and think about what I will do for myself when that part is done.

Maybe I want a cup of coffee, so I tell myself – after I finish this ten minutes of work, I am going to take a few minutes to make coffee and go check on the dog. The little things can mean so much, especially if you make yourself work for them.

Learn to unplug

As a freelancer, it is easy to become a 24/7 workaholic. Just because you work from home doesn't mean that whenever you are at home you must work.

Your biggest challenge is fighting that constant feeling that you should be working. That is what I mean by unplugging. Give yourself a break. Give yourself big breaks when you have accomplished a good amount of work.

You are the boss, so tell yourself, "I am proud of my progress and I have no trouble giving myself the day or a few days off".

Being your own boss starts today

Congratulations! You are on a path to unlimited potential and complete satisfaction. But, don't forget that being your own boss means that you will have to push yourself more than you ever thought possible.

Being a self-starter who knows how to control your own destiny may be hard, but I believe anyone with the right attitude and tools can do it.

Are you one of those special people that make things happen for themselves, no matter the cost? Sign up with project management for freelancers today and hold yourself accountable to your business.

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Our team of career freelancers writes about best invoice practices, what makes a great client, and repeats the mantra, "never work without a contract." We're opinionated about the future of work and will always be on the side of freelancers.
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