The fast-paced lifestyle of today is putting high demands on all of us. Many people are looking for an escape route to freedom. But even when we achieve that freedom, we need to realize that with freedom comes responsibility.
For many people, the freedom to work from home has become the ultimate dream. The dream is to have the freedom to schedule your own time. You want to be able to spend more time with your loved ones.
It Might Be Nice to Work from Home, But it is Easy to Lose Focus and Go Off-Course.
The whole idea is to be productive, yet have more quality time to spend with family and friends and being able to the do things you love. The goal is to do more in less time and do it effectively. Life is not always about work and business alone. We also need time for our families. Maybe you like to go hiking. Spending some time in nature can do wonders to bring you peace and tranquility.
Well, I have reached the point personally where I started wondering where I have missed it. Every day we hear people talking about the entrepreneurial dream, to be able to work from home, being in control of your time and have more quality time with your family and loved ones. And here I found myself, slaving away day after day, from early morning until late at night. I was always left with something that still had to be done. Not only was I always busy, but I didn’t get the results I really wanted.
I asked myself the question whether this idea of having more freedom is just a myth, or where have I missed it? So, I decided to stop everything and take stock. I started to do some research, reading every book, article or post or could lay my hands on about this topic. I knew there were people out there who were enjoying great success, and they work from home.
Don’t Try To Reinvent the Wheel
So that was the first obvious choice. Find those people, see how they do it and copy them. Don’t reinvent the wheel. The ultimate goal of this project was to study what they do, learn from their mistakes, not to repeat those mistakes and achieve success faster.
I soon discovered that – although he was already very successful and earning a good income – the famous Pat Flynn faced a similar problem some time ago. He wrote a great post about it which he recently updated called ‘The Most Important Conversation I’ve had About My Business Ever’.
One of the problems he points out was exactly what I was experiencing. Work was never ‘done’ for the day. No matter how much I have done, there would always be something that still needed to be done.
The answer to my problem was actually plain and simple, and it was staring me right in the face all the time. I had no schedule for anything and even though I sometimes blocked some time on my calendar, I didn’t really stick to it.
Not having a schedule for any given project also makes it hard to monitor your progress. You can’t measure yourself against any milestones.
I also started sorting all my activities into various categories. What was work-related and what was personal? From my work-related activities, I had to determine which activities are income producing and which are not. Some activities have a direct impact on generating income, some immediately, and others over the long-term. Yet there are also activities which might be relative to income-producing activities but it doesn’t have an immediate impact, such as research for future articles and posts. Lastly, you have activities that don’t produce income but it has to be done, such as admin tasks.
During this process, I have also discovered some great tools to become more productive in less time. Having your day properly structured and organized, these tools are great stress relievers as well. It enables you to know exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. You know exactly how much time you have allocated to each task and what comes next. That puts you in control and eliminates unnecessary stress as you stop rushing around just spinning your wheels.
These are some of the (free) tools I am using:
Google Calendar – Time Blocking.
Toggl – Time management and tracking time.
Evernote – Organizing your life and work.
Trello – Trello is nice for organizing work projects. It is a very visual to-do system with boards and cards. It’s also a good app for remote teams as you can drag and drop files and images from your desktop to a card to upload them (and within the project itself).
Asana – project-planning and productivity.
Life Tick – Goal setting and management.
Time Management and Making Appointments with Yourself
Although it is great to have all these wonderful tools, it means absolutely nothing if you don’t use them. There is no sense in blocking time on Google Calendar (or any other calendar program) if you don’t use it and stick to it (like I did before).It’s like going to a war zone while you are leaving your firearm safely locked away in your gun-safe at home. You have to discipline yourself to actually stick to your schedule and actively use all the tools that are available to you.
Even if you have blocked time for an activity that only involves yourself – such as time for writing a post – stick to that as if it’s an appointment with your doctor or your lawyer. I have made that mistake – when no-one else would be involved in such an activity – to either postpone it or not stop on time for the next activity, thinking that I would make up for it later. You never make it up, believe me.
Don’t Schedule Activities, Meetings or Conferences Back-to-Back
When you do block time where it involves other people or if there is any traveling involved, don’t schedule meetings or conferences back-to-back. If you do that you are in for trouble and your stress levels are going to hit top levels. All you need is one delay, and your whole day is turned into chaos.
Even for activities where no other people are involved, you need to schedule time for taking breaks. This is another trap I fell into. I would be looking at everything I need to do and thought that I couldn’t afford to take a break. I would schedule these tasks back-to-back, thinking I am putting my time to maximum use, not allowing myself any breaks except maybe a couple of minutes for lunch.
This was so exhausting, that we often would think I am busy coming down with flu or something, while in the meantime I was plainly exhausted. It has been proven that the brain can only remain focused for a certain time (about 90 minutes max.) before you start losing concentration. I’ve heard that – in extreme cases – when you really need to be focused, you might need to take a break every 20 minutes or so.
I currently try to stick to a routine of working intensely for about fifty minutes and then take a ten-minute break, making up an hour. Since forming this habit, I’ve become much more productive. I get much more work done in much less time. And the best of all, I am more relaxed as well.
We all Dream About Freedom.
Everybody wants freedom. We hear it every day; people want freedom from slavery and freedom from a 9 to 5 job. They want freedom of speech…..you name it, and we want freedom. And there is nothing wrong with freedom. Every human being should be free. We should be free to choose where we live and how we live, and yes….it is really nice if you can even choose where you want to work from.
But what we should realize is that with freedom comes responsibility. As we take responsibility, it will bring us more freedom. Freedom is not a ‘free for all’, undisciplined excuse to think we can say and do as we please without ever taking other people into consideration or without having to face any consequences at all.
With Freedom Comes Responsibility.
We need to take responsibility for the freedom we have to choose our actions and how we spend our time. Here are some points to consider:
- A lot of hype is built around the idea of having the freedom ‘to work when you want’. But take good notice of the word ‘when’. The idea is to work when you want, not if you want. If you want to see results, you still need to take action and do some work. No action = no results.
- You can choose own your lifestyle. You can eat and drink whatever you want, how much you want and whenever you want. But apply some discipline and live a healthy lifestyle, following a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet, and you will enjoy good results for many years to come.
- You have the freedom to spend your money on whatever you want, whenever you want……and always be broke. Or you can decide to become financially educated, learn about investing, saving and giving, and become prosperous and wealthy.
- You have the freedom of speech and you can say what you want, but everybody doesn’t have to agree with you. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you should become insensitive, rude and inconsiderate towards other people. Words have much power and it can be either encouraging or destructive.
Freedom can cause you to achieve success and to live the lifestyle of your dreams, or it can leave you in chaos and lack. Freedom can cause you to draw people closer to you and you can enjoy love and respect, or it you can drive people away from you. You choose.
Freedom is a privilege available to us all, but we need to handle our freedom with responsibility.