Tips to manage a freelance career with a full-time job

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When you have a standard nine-to-five job, beginning a freelancing career could seem over-ambitious. Once you’ve marked off ten hours of the day--eight at work and two on travel--all you’re left with are a few hours each day. And yet, many people turn to freelancing as a means of complementing their existing income and to build an alternate career that will eventually liberate them from the vagaries of the ‘boss’.

Here are a few practical tips to help you juggle a freelancing career alongside a full-time job:

Be selective about your projects

When you have income from a full-time job to fall back on, you can afford to be picky about the kind of projects that you work on. Instead of choosing projects solely on the basis of their fee, find projects that enrich your life. Perhaps you could find a project that centres around your passion. When you’re doing something you really enjoy, it’s less likely to feel like a job and can actually invigorate you after a full day at work.

Take on realistic deadlines

Avoid taking on projects with short a turnaround time. A good rule of thumb would be to set deadlines that are twice the time you’d generally take. For instance, if you estimate that a particular project would take you about four hours (or two freelancing days), negotiate for four days instead. Even if your full-time job demands extra hours from you on a day or two, you’d still find time to complete your freelancing project.

Schedule time for play

All work and no play can, as the proverb goes, dull your senses. Make sure you intentionally take time to engage in activities that help you unwind. The human body is not designed to work round the clock. Doing so can eventually upset your natural rhythm and cause stress-related illnesses.

Guard your work window

After a whole day at work, surfing on social media or chatting up with friends may seem reasonable, but remember that work hours need to be zealously protected. Answering that one phone call or replying to that text could end up stealing way more time than you imagined. Minimise distractions by keeping your phone on airplane mode and signing out of all social media.

Choose written modes of communication

When you’re strapped for time, it might seem most efficient to communicate with your clients over the phone. However, emails or instant messaging gives you the advantage of ‘history’ for future reference. They can also force you to be more succinct while penning down your thoughts, which in turn, can translate to more clarity on the project. Nor will you have to worry about waiting for your client to be ‘free’ when both of you are in different time zones. It’s also a good idea to keep a separate mailbox for work-related mails, organising projects via folders and threads.

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