Being an Entrepreneur (5): Happiness. The Five (really 15) Hacks to a Blissful Home-Office Life.




  • Greater than 5 minutes, my friend!

    So you never crave that 9-5 rhythm that guarantees you guilt work free evenings, sipping wine without spilling your keypad, again?
    You happily work away days on end, screeching cats, hungry husbands, and cute kids are just white noise for you?
    Whatever real life might hold in store, it won’t compare to your newest project. So real life can take a number, thank you?
    You never look up and realize the sun is shining; the birds are singing and you are locked up until this document is done, with the next project already in the loop?

    This article is not for you. :)

    For all of you who sometimes feel the pros and cons of working at home, working with dragons and cats and bossing yourself around:
    let’s try to keep you inspired and jubilant as a linguist slash accountant slash marketing specialist slash parent slash on your own.

    Here are the habits I adopted and found very helpful in maintaining my very positive work attitude.
    Let me know how you like them and what YOU are keeping up your sleeve to help you stay a happy camper translator!

    1. Be a fox.
      Have you ever heard the term “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”? That’s YOU, my friend.
      It doesn’t matter if you’re a morning clown or an afternoon delight. Personally, I love getting up early, before the world around me gets light and loud. But one of the perks of being a freelancer is planning your (working)day freely.
      This is more about attitude: whenever your alarm clock rings, jump start! Get going, get showered, get into clean clothes.
      Yoga attire or your favorite jeans and a shirt stating “I’m a translator because …” were meant to be worn to your home office.
      Last night’s pajama with the spaghetti stains? Not.
      Also: if the doorbell rings with a noisy neighbor, the mailman or a customer (what?), you’ll feel your comfortable, professional self if you’re completely dressed.
    2. Feed yourself well.
      Do you despise breakfast? That’s fine. Is black coffee your only friend? I hear you.
      But try to make healthy choices for your body.
      It’s your soul’s home and with all the screen time and sitting through your work days; you’re putting it through a lot.
      So, try to eat well. Yes, that means veggies, but no one said you have to eat them ALL. I for one live on tomatoes and avocados because I love them.
      They’re easy and quick to prepare, they’re healthy and don’t tire out my body/buddy. If you’re a banana person, go for it. Mangos aren’t suited for working with a touch screen? Dried ones are. Just try to keep your workplace healthy and light. Grab nourishing (and non-greasy) treats that will jumpstart your brain (hint: any sugar will give a slight high with a big flat following suit). I’m not trying to turn you into a raw vegan here. But try to leave the junk food for Netflix binge-watching sessions.
      Make a conscious choice towards what’s keeping you healthy without stressing yourself.
      Don’t keep a frozen pizza pie as an emergency lunch. It’s tempting, I know! Make it fresh as a special celebration once your big project is over. Which brings us to
    3. Be kind to yourself.
      Treat YOU like your very favorite employee.
      Start by keeping (or designing) your office friendly and light. If you’re working from the kitchen table, have a (roller)shelf as your office and keep that as neat and beautiful as possible. Surround yourself with things you enjoy looking at: framed pictures, a great calendar, potted plants. Treat yourself to a gorgeous coffee mug (don’t forget you’ll need a travel mug) and your favorite hot beverage to enjoy while working.
      Needless to say: have a bottle of water ready, always.
      If you like working with music, keep a playlist just for work. Without distracting new lyrics or ads, your mind will be able to focus despite the “noise.”
      Have a comfortable chair. I know, they can put a hole in your budget same as a computer or (very much pre-owned) car. Me, I a gymnastic ball (hunt it down on eBay for around €25) and, for extensive reading, my favorite reading chair, now parked in my office and only used for business reading. So much more fun because I look forward to some comfy time!
      Also, I bought and built a shelf all by myself and decorated it with some inspiring and motivating quotes in picture frames, that way making my workspace even more “me.”
      My favorite color is jade, and I try to surround myself with it. Since it’s crisp and fresh, I used it in my office and just combined it with a strict black and white theme.
    4. Get organized.
      It goes without saying: your mind might love creative chaos but if it’s the end of the month (or year) and you still don’t know what you owe in taxes: that’s a dangerous stress enhancer.
      I try (!) to do my accounting once a week, with a monthly scheduled, non-negotiable punch-and-file session. Also, I’ve made it a habit to always empty receipts and invoices into ONE box, so I don’t have to hunt for them, ever.
      Remember the shelf? It holds all my project related files, marketing books, dictionaries, research stuff and so on. If I find an interesting read from a colleague or a book on language (fish in your ear?), I add it to the shelf to enjoy during my breaks. I realized the easier I find something, the less it interrupts my creative train of thought.
      Are you the sole housework warrior? If you can’t get a cleaner (yet), put those tasks on a particular day or schedule daily for a specific time slot. Treat chores like you would a dentist appointment.  1 pm to 2:30 pm: dishes, vacuum, a load of laundry into the washer.
      Then: stop. You’re an entrepreneur, not a stay-at-home parent. More on that coming up:
    5. Schedule breaks and RL.
      Keep a diary and plan events that take you out of the house along with projects, skype-meetings, and webinars. Enjoy what freelancing ALSO is: freedom from 9-5. All the late night shifts you did? Please, compensate!
      Take care of your social needs. Get a haircut, a manicure, stroll through the city or hike the woods on a Friday morning.
      Also, I adapted what I learned from training Iceland horses. To keep their rides fresh over long periods of traveling, riders will work them for 50 minutes and then let the horses graze and rest for 10 minutes.
      This time frame works exceptionally well for me though you might want to figure out your personal schedule. For me, it’s 50 minutes straight work, no distractions. Then 10 minutes of break away from the screen(!): getting tea, stretching, enjoying the afternoon sun in my garden or playing fetch with my dog.
      After five of those cycles, I put in a 45-minute lunch break, prepare my meal and take it outside, take a long walk with the dog or a quick nap, followed by five to seven more cycles, depending on workload.
      Sounds like a long work day, and it is. But this way I get to enjoy real life without missing out on my favorite job.
      Check out YouTube for the video series of pangolins rolling around in a puddle.
      That’s how I get to feel every day.

    What are your favorite hacks to help live your freelancer life to the fullest? Comment or PM me!

    Nicole König

    About Nicole König

    3 thoughts on “Being an Entrepreneur (5): Happiness.

    1. Wow, Nicole, this feels like a breath of fresh air! Your tips make me want to be a better person – or rather, a better professional – instantly. I will definitely try and fit in the hacks I haven’t tried yet.
      I have spoiled myself with a workspace that’s only for me (it means paying a higher rent, but it’s worth it!), decided how many hours I’ll spend weekly on translation, CPD, chores and hobbies and filled my pantry with herbal teas for my hot beverages.
      As to leaving junk food where it belongs, i.e. on supermarket shelves… well… let’s keep in touch about that 😀

    2. Thank you for the wondeful post, Nicole! Since I work as a freelancer I always start my day with ten minutes of exercise, a shower, a cup of coffee and a light makeup, even if the only reason I have to go out is to take my daughter to school and back. It is difficult to stay fit, and not only physically, working from home. The tips you give definitely help. I use almost all of them:-)

    3. “Treat YOU like your very favorite employee.” – yes, that’s definitely my motto, because my business can’t really function very well without me. So I try not to run myself into the ground by working long hours or stressing out. I allow myself to simply unplug and put everything on pause so I could just breath and be happy. And guess what? It works! :)

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