As freelancers, it is very common to be in a situation where you either finished all your projects or you have projects on hold, or you are waiting for the client’s feedback or you are just waiting for a new project to start. What should you do with your time while this is happening? If you are a freelancer for the right reasons, which are being location independent, financially independent and doing what you love without a boss pushing you around, there is no excuse for having nothing to do. On this article, I give suggestions to make every minute count.
Every minute has to count!
Belong to a community
As a programmer or statistician, you have StackOverflow. As a designer or a personal trainer you may have Facebook or LinkedIn groups. You can also create your own group of interest. No matter what you do, there is always a community of people asking questions and needing help from more experienced individuals. Finding these communities is important to gain visibility as a professional. Also, helping others with their questions often forces you to go back to the basics and strengthen your own skills while at the same time providing important value to someone in need. It is definitely a win-win situation.
Find a community where you can provide value and be active whenever you have time available.
Meet likeminded people
Freelancers work alone and have generally no co-workers to interact with, but it’s important to meet people along the way in order to share experiences, knowledge or something else. If you prefer to start looking online, meetup.com, LinkedIn groups or Facebook groups are great places to find people with your same skills and interests. The same communities you are involved with online can provide you with an opportunity to have a coffee with someone in real life and share your experiences or even work together in a cafe or co-working space.
Some co-working spaces also provide with social interaction opportunities. If you are in a city with co-working spaces available, you should definitely try it out. Not everybody enjoys them or find them useful but if you haven’t yet, you should at least try it out to see if it’s the right thing for you.
Take advantage of your free time to stay in touch with like-minded people.
Whenever you finish a project, or while you are developing a project, you learn a number of new interesting things about a Software you use, a knowledge area, an industry, or about anything else. These learnings can benefit others all around the world. Find the way it is more comfortable for you to share that content and start sharing your knowledge. It can be a blog, a Youtube channel, an Instagram account, a Podcast, a magazine, a newspaper or anything else. Discover what your favorite channel of communication is and start sharing your discoveries with the world. Doing this gives you visibility on the long run, and while you may be helping others, you never know if you can get new business or a partner from someone watching your content.
Start making a list of the things you want to learn to become a better professional. Find a resource to learn them and just do it. You can find free courses on Youtube or paid curriculums in coursera.org, udemy.com or other learning platforms. Most of these online courses let you move at your own pace so you can use your free time to learn new things. Find a book of your interest and read it. Find a workshop or seminar in your area and attend.
Never stop learning. Be sure you have always something in your plate to learn in the future.
When you create content, many times you are teaching something, but also sometimes you are just giving some insight or a thought about a particular topic which is opinion based. When you focus on teaching, you need to generate a more structured way of helping others, so they can effectively and efficiently learn a particular skill. You can do this for free using any communication platform you want, or you can monetize it by creating a course using for instance udemy.com or writing a book.
In the beginning of my freelancing life I felt very stressed whenever I didn’t have a project and desperately tried to find something to do that would give me immediate revenue. There is no point in being stressed. Having this independent life is extremely valuable and whenever you have free time, you should enjoy it by either building your business and brand, or by just enjoying your free time. Stay in contact with friends, go to new places, get a new hobby.
Take care of yourself
This is something that doesn’t apply only to freelancers, but to everybody in this world. Being busy separates us from living a healthy life style. It is extremely important to be active, exercise and take care of your soul and well-being. If you have some free time, it’s a perfect opportunity to experiences new activities that benefit your physical and mental health. Try new things until you get to something you like: Yoga, Calisthenics, Cross-fit, Meditation, Self-Awareness, Therapy and all kinds of sports and spiritual activities. The more you try, the more likely you are to find something you like, and the more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to commit to it in the long term.
Create a side business
Depending on the idea you have, the amount of money you are willing to risk and the abilities you possess, you may want to find partners, raise some money or build a platform yourself during those free hours. If you have an idea, make it happen.
Of course as a freelancer you need to spend some time to find new projects. But this is one of the controversial opinions I have. You can end up in this unhealthy loop of selling only when you are out of work, then forget to sell when you are doing a project because you have no time. This can generate a lot of stress and you can end up always having no project lined up after the one you are currently doing. I think a freelancer shouldn’t spend the time selling and should either use freelancer platforms, or have a smart selling strategy that takes as little time as possible, maybe with a partner who sells the services. In the long term, if you gain a lot of visibility and reputation, jobs will come without any effort.
Find a Job?
There are two types of freelancers: the ones that are freelancing while they are looking for a job, and the ones that do it for the independence and freedom. If you want to be a freelancer just for a short period, then obviously you should spend your time looking for a job, but if you are enjoying your freelancer life style, there is no point even talking about this really.
Don’t waste your time. Make every minute count. When you work in an office for a corporation, you will get paid for going to the bathroom and chatting with your colleagues, but freelancers don’t have this luxury. You are paid for the work done or for the hour spent working and you have to be dynamic and very proactive. There is a cost of wasting your time that is proportional to your ability to succeed. This is the beauty of being a freelancer: you can do anything you want, but the more effort you put into yourself, the more likely you are to be happy and succeed. There is really no excuse for having nothing to do. The opportunities are infinite.