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Career Monday: Finding Direction in a Time of Transition: From Full-Time to Freelance

After many years of working full time, you just might want to work at your own pace from home. You’d like more time for yourself and the things that matter most to you, whether that’s your children, a spiritual path, or the urge to write a novel.

Launching into the unknown requires courage, discipline, and passion.

Follow these guidelines to make the transition easier:

1. Ensure you have work first. Before you resign from your full-time job, have some freelance projects already lined up. You’ll be wise to have at least two projects going at any given time, so you have something to fall back on if one ends or doesn’t work out for some reason.

• If you have enough experience in your line of work, maybe you could even find a retainer arrangement, which will allow you to work from home.

2. Create a schedule and stick with it. When you’re suddenly free to do anything you want, you’re even more responsible for your own welfare. You might be tempted to wake up late, spend the day watching television or hang around with friends and leave work for the end of the day.

• Much depends on your biorhythm. You may be a morning or a night person. Discover your peak hours and do your work during this period. This will help you be productive.

• For example, if you’re a writer, you can tell yourself that you’ll write at least an article a day. If there’s research involved, do that first. Don’t put it off. If you depend on the internet as most freelancers do, get your research done as soon as possible, as you never know when the connection might go out.

Establish a routine. If you can adapt yourself to rising at 6:30 am, you’ll be taking advantage of the natural cycles many people have in common. Energy levels are often highest around 6:30 am and dip thereafter. In the same way, the brain is at its best before 11 p.m. – so be in bed before then.

3. Plan the money. Since you may not have a steady monthly income, plan your finances wisely. Keep an eye on how much you can spend at any given time. Always make sure that you have enough for the next month.

4. Have a pleasant workspace. Create a nice, cozy nook for your work. This will now be your home office. Try painting the walls a color that energizes you.

• Vibrant red and violet stimulate adrenaline production and creativity while blue is calming. Yellows and greens are happy colors. Consider a burnt orange if red is too much for you.

5. Combat loneliness with some socializing. Freelancers are often a lonely lot since they work alone. If you feel unhappy about being on your own all the time, go out for lunch with your friends or meet them on weekends. One of the great advantages of working from home is that you can take a break whenever you want.

6. Establish a website. Domain names are cheap, usually under $15 a year. If you haven’t picked out a business name, register your own name. For example: johnsmith.com, or johnrsmith.com.

• Alternately, the internet offers many opportunities for making free web pages. Make the site professional in terms of design and content. Keep it simple and let the world know what you’re offering. Put up some samples of your work as your portfolio.

Follow these tips and you’re all set to make a smooth transition to your freelance career. Enjoy your new self-employment!

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