How I Work: The Freelancer

My name is Natalie. I’m 28, a freelance copywriter, copy editor and journalist, and I live in Dublin, Ireland. This is how I work.
 

Blagging

Most of my work is done on an iMac that my partner managed to blag from her old workplace when they upgraded all the machines. I think it’s from 2009. I’ve kept it updated – for example, it runs El Capitan, but slowly, and needs a bit of time to warm up in the mornings. I usually turn it on, then go and make myself a coffee. By the time I’ve pushed the Aeropress down and I’m back at my desk, we’re both just about ready to do our thing.
 

Hitting the road

Other gear that I use for everyday writing projects includes an Apple Wireless keyboard. I like the flexibility of using a Bluetooth keyboard because I can use it at home with my iMac and a Magic Mouse, but also when I hit the road — often I pair it with my iPad for a workplace on the move. One of my proudest moments saw me finishing an assignment in the car* using Google Docs on the iPad with the wireless keyboard, while giving myself a hotspot from my iPhone, which was in its holder on the windscreen. This cheap plastic tablet stand from IKEA, wedged into the steering wheel, completed the setup and made quite a nifty monitor holder.

*needless to say, the car was parked.

Reverse-engineering

I do my best work early in the morning. The iOS update before last, the one that introduced the ‘Bedtime’ feature for the clock, was a gamechanger for me. Because I like to wake up early, but I’m also concerned with getting my 8 hours of sleep nightly, it helps me easily reverse-engineer myself a wake-up time according to what hour I hit the hay, so I can be up but still refreshed.
 

Flexibility

My favourite thing about being freelance is the flexibility. I love being able to move things around in my schedule to fit in what’s important to me – and I hate having to miss things I want to do because of work I haven’t caught up on. As such, Google Calendar is an invaluable tool for me, both in terms of making progress on projects and for fitting in time for the things that are important to me, but which I might push aside for more ‘busy’ work. I use the Goals recurring scheduling feature to find time in my day for an hour’s workout everyday, for 15 minutes’ French practice on Duolingo, for 15 minutes’ coding practice, for 30 minutes of content writing… you get the idea.

Even travel time, usually 20 or 30 minutes either side of an appointment, gets blocked out – a trick I learned when my bread-and-butter job was managing leads & setting appointments.

I love being able to move things around in my schedule to fit in what’s important to me — and I hate having to miss things I want to do because of work I haven’t caught up on.


Scraps

I do my work in the ‘spare’ room in my flat, which also houses the pull-out bed, the wardrobe, and all of the other junk we can’t fit in the boiler cupboard.

My desk is in front of a triptych of cork boards, on which I’ve pinned various scraps of information, inspiration, pictures of loved ones, and motivational quotes I’ve written for myself (and some I’ve found from other places). This is a trick I got from The Artist’s Way, in a brief flirtation I had last year with its method (the only remnant of the good habits I was meant to be creating for myself being an addiction to 750words.com)

One mantra, that I have written on a bright blue Post-It note right at eye level, reads: IT IS AS EASY AS THAT.

You might not agree with the sentiment, but for me, it works!
 

Watched over by machines

There are tons of apps, tools and sites I use to keep my life running, but here’s a run-down of just a few of the ones I couldn’t live without.

Apart from using Google Calendar to manage my appointments, calls and meetings, I use Clear for the iPhone to manage my to-do list, as well as my grocery list, book and film recommendations people give me, and-embarrassingly-my life bucket list. I’ll write another post about this sometime.

Papier is the equivalent of bringing up a blank Notepad page every time you open a new Chrome tab, and is invaluable for a multi-tab addict like me. On that topic, The Great Suspender Chrome plugin stops my iMac melting into a big pile of grey plastic and metal on a daily basis, and Instapaper does the dame thing for my brain, taking all those things I want to read in all those millions of tabs and putting them on my phone for me to look at on the tram instead.

Finally, Pomodomore helps me focus - essential when you have so many projects to juggle!
 

This post was also published on Medium, under the Succeed Together publication header.