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Working remotely can be liberating; we get to pick and choose the hours we work, the clients we want to work with and the way we market ourselves. Whether you work freelance or remotely, you will have experienced this flexibility.

Sometimes the freedom can be too overwhelming. It’s safe to say that every remote worker has experienced a steep learning curve when it comes to time and client management. We may want to cut corners, or the opposite, we may want to take the long route round just because we’re perfectionists.

I’m hoping that by sharing these common mistakes (from my own experience and shared experiences), we might be able to start fixing them.

Ignoring the paperwork

Sending across contract agreements always seems unnecessarily formal, especially when trying to keep the client relationship friendly and informal, however, you have no grounds to stand on if there isn’t a signed agreement in place before work begins. I’m talking about missing payments or potential lawsuits, don’t do your expertise a disservice.

You can create draft contract agreements at Law Depot, just sign up for a free trial for a week, download the agreement and cancel the trial.

Not enforcing contract agreements can be a risky choice

Being email-centric

It’s really easy to fall into the trap where email dominates any other communication. Yes, it’s a bit more effort picking up the phone.

A phone call, Skype call, or dare I say, face to face meeting will help you, your client or remote team to ask the questions you feel silly putting into words in an email. It’s an opportunity to spot something you never would alone by yourself and it reduces little risks that could grow into showstoppers.

Let’s not forget the value of building rapport in this industry, people are much more likely to want to help you out if they remember you’re a human, not just an email address.

Changing working hours to be more efficient

As freelancers we try to maximise our productivity by stretching our working hours in all sorts of directions. If you haven’t already tried to start work an hour earlier or stay on for an hour longer than usual, I would offer advice along the lines of: don’t.

The hours you work now are the hours you prefer, for me it’s 8-4:30pm but when I tried to turn up at 7am, I just spent the whole hour making more coffee and reading BBC News as my “warm up” for the day.

Changing work location halfway through a working day

“Maybe, if I work from Starbucks this afternoon, I’ll get everything finished”, this kind of thinking leads to coffee overdoses and public Wifi frustrations. I always place dependencies on different locations as a condition to myself, that if I go there I’ll suddenly be more productive. I’m not so sure this works though.

From past experiences I have learnt that by changing locations I often:

  • Don’t consider travel time
  • Realise the uncertainty of screaming baby being in a nearby proximity
  • Forget about the WiFi that makes Google search results page load take 2 minutes+
  • Need to do all of the laundry and all of the dishes

Forgetting the work/life balance

The hardest you’ll work is when you’re working for yourself, when it’s your reputation on the line and your credibility, there’s just no way you’ll go home early. When your home becomes your workplace and when you decide to pack your laptop for holiday, the line becomes so blurry, it doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s time to reinstate the work life balance. Disable push notifications, do the digital detox, set your working hours or put your out of office on. When working remotely you have the freedom, just as long as you comply with those all important contract agreements and manage people’s expectations you will find that healthy equilibrium again.

About the author

Olivia is a freelance copywriter, health & fitness blogger for Golden Pulse and personal trainer who works in London and Bristol. Olivia's favourite remote location to work has to be Bristol Library, writing in the same space where literary masterpieces are everywhere is awesome.

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