No matter how you slice it, freelancing always suffers from the potential same pitfall: inadvertently merging work and home life, and letting down time invade work time. Its the first lesson of freelancing: watch your time and watch your expenses as though your life depended upon it. Because it does.
And as much of an admonishment as this could be against letting laziness get the better of your work, it can in equal measure be an warning not to let work life disrupt your time with family and friends. You need a livelihood and you need a reason to work. They need to be kept, to the extent that it is possible for us freelancers, separate.
So one way I’ve found to “get in the zone” is to adopt a bit of my life in the cube for life as a work-from-anywhere freelance pro: have a work day mug.
Sounds silly, right? I mean, you’ve got all kinds of coffee cups in your kitchen cabinets. If you’re like a lot of people I know, that coffee mug collection is a polyglot riot of free mugs from jobs, collections from roomates past, and stuff you don’t even remember buying from a garage sale. But set just one aside to keep as your work mug.
Why? Because you’re going to be holding on to that mug every time you stop working and take your fingers off the keyboard. You’re going to be filling it up with the beloved jump juice you need to make the next synaptic leap towards your project’s completion. Your mug needs to be as “in the game” as you are. It needs to be dedicated. It needs to scream, “But what next?!?” every time you look at it.
My work day mug is nothing special. Just a $5 hunk of cheap earthenware, purchased nearly blind at a Walmart convenient to my last gig, when my previous work mug met an untimely end. No sentimentality; no naming my work mug. It exists to work. The stripes around the middle of it are classic coffee mug: they sort of remind me of my grandparents.
My grandfather: a hard-working blue collar man with no tolerance of idleness while there was work to be done. I channel that energy every time I hold my work mug.
And then, when it comes time to shut down the work computer for the day, I wash my work mug and put it away. If I want a cool-down cup of Joe, I put it in one of my many off time mugs. Preferably, a different one every day. It is time to relax: I can use whatever cup I like!