A Mom’s Guide to Decluttering Working as an Online Tech Freelancer
Before I delve into ways mothers can declutter their online tech freelancer lifestyles, I need to provide some background about how I simplified my life by quitting my traditional job to stay home with my two kids and work as a freelancer.
Two years ago I was overwhelmed, incredibly stressed, and feeling as if I barely got to see my first born baby son. Although I was an English teacher who was passionate about my students, subject, and school, I knew something was missing, and I had to make a change, but it took me two more years to finally take that leap and make it happen.
Like many mothers who wish they could spend more time at home, I felt as if I had no choice but to keep my traditional job, send the kids to daycare, and just get through it.
Although I was having a difficult time and it seemed like I was always working, even at home, I felt like sucking it up and dealing was my only option. And so for two years, I did.
And then I found out I was pregnant with my second son, and my whole perception of everything changed. I no longer felt that sucking it up was going to work anymore. There had to be another answer. I knew that in our financial situation, not working and staying home with two kids was not possible.
I had to make money, and I knew that I needed to work part-time. Personally, I could not fathom not having a job; working had always been part of my identity. I also knew that we could not pay for full-time childcare for two kids, and a big reason I wanted to quit my traditional job was that I wanted to see my kids more.
I needed something that would blend these two worlds, and I wanted something that would provide me freedom, mental stimulation, and balance. I wondered if a job like this even existed, so one evening — after my son went to bed, I scoured the internet, and I found quite a few online tech freelancer jobs.
The first freelance-type jobs I looked at were online teaching. I was a certified English teacher, and I was amazed at the number of jobs — especially teaching English to students in other countries — that were available. They even seemed to pay decently too. VipKid and DaDaABC were the two I heavily considered.
They were both online tech freelancer jobs where you taught English through a video program to young Chinese students.
Both companies even claimed to pay $18-$25 an hour. I was pretty excited about this discovery and felt that I could teach online.
I could work in the morning before my husband went to work, during nap times, and in the evenings. But then I thought about the fact that teaching students online would require that I would be totally unavailable to my husband and two children when working.
I mean, you cannot be nursing a newborn on a video chat while teaching, and most students probably don’t want to hear a toddler in the background screaming, “Mommy!” Although many mothers successfully pull off these freelancing type of jobs while staying home, I had my doubts it would work me.
I could picture my distraught husband holding a crying baby and toddler while storming into the back room where I was teaching online. Talk about a major interruption to a video lesson while I am teaching the alphabet. The image intensified as I pictured myself grabbing the kids and apologizing to a perplexed student who was paying for my time.
I knew I had to go back to the drawing board, but now I was at least aware of these online tech freelancer opportunities, and I was determined to make one of them work for my particular situation.
Then I thought about my writing. I had always loved writing. I had published a few articles and poems here and there and even had a few books from small publishing companies under my belt. Why not look up freelance writing, I thought, and so I did. Then I was led to Upwork, a freelancing site where there are tons of clients searching for writers, editors, and other freelancers online!
Perfect! So I uploaded a picture, wrote a bio, took some of the grammar and literature quizzes, and gradually built a profile. Although it took some patience, perseverance, and time, I began landing jobs and gaining long-term clients.
My work was getting published, my prices began to increase, and the best part, I could put the baby on the boppy and nurse while writing, my husband could take my toddler in the morning, and the decent money I was making could even help with a couple of days of daycare while I freelanced.
Working as an online tech freelancer would provide me more freedom and time to be with my children. I felt like I had scored the jackpot.
Now let me tell you, this took a lot of determination to make happen, but I know many other moms who also took the leap and decluttered their lives to work as online tech freelancers.
Although amazing, it still comes with its own difficulties and to be successful; you have to be tremendously motivated and organized. You also need to find ways to blend your family duties as a stay-at-home mom with your working duties as a working mom.
To do this, I have found that there are some techniques to make your life as a mom working as a freelancer easier, and it involves decluttering your mind, technology, and workspace.
Read on for a mom’s guide to decluttering working as an online tech freelancer:
Declutter Your Tasks
You probably have quite a few clients, deadlines, notes, etc. that seem daunting to keep track of. That is why the Trello app is a must-have. This online site and app is an easy way to organize all those tasks at hand. I use it to keep track of all of my clients and projects I have going on each week.
I label a card with my client’s name and then set the due date with the calendar feature; then I create a list of specific tasks for that one client with the easy-to-use to-do list.
I would lose my mind if I didn’t have this. Another great perk of this app is that you can also create a board that keeps track of your family duties. My Trello app keeps me organized and sane. It even warns you when there is a due date approaching, and we all need reminders.
Declutter Your Email
First off, it’s important to your sanity to not use your personal email for business. I made the mistake of using my personal email at first and quickly realized that was not going to work out. I had my client’s emails being mixed in with my online diaper order receipt and subscriptions to mom blogs. It was difficult to find anything, so I knew that I needed to sign up for another email that was used specifically for business.
I chose to make another Google account because I love that GoogleDocs comes with it. I also made sure that I did not subscribe to anything on this new business email or allow any online notifications to go to this email. My business email was just for business.
Declutter Your Mind with Meditation
You are going to be shifting from mommy mode to working mode constantly, and the frequent interruptions that stop your train of thought can be draining. That’s why I have found that meditation keeps me sane and fresh.
Hey, you can even multi-task and meditate during ten minutes of nap time or while you are pumping. The headspace app is great for this. You can use the free version or pay for more meditations. A soothing man’s voice guides you during ten minutes of bliss.
I also love the course “Releasing Motherly Martyrdom” that you can get through The DailyOm site here. This is a course that comes with audio lessons and meditations that give you some breathing time and balance within your busy home.
Declutter Your Time
Declutter the amount of time you spend on freelancing tasks. When I first started off, I had to take some very low-paying jobs just to build my portfolio, gain experience, and receive some positive reviews.
We all have to start somewhere, but as you improve your freelancing skills, you should find that you can charge more for your time. Don’t underestimate yourself and know your worth.
If you put in the grunt work and established yourself in your field, don’t shortchange yourself or take on a project that you are not passionate about.
You will end up frustrated that you are writing a promotional blog for tampons for $8 when you could be writing about a mom’s guide to decluttering as an online tech freelancer for much better pay and a topic you actually enjoy.
Declutter Your Schedules
Similarly, you need to figure out a work schedule. You obviously will get the most work done if you don’t have to run after little Suzy and feed baby Charlie, but this is easier said than done. If you have a partner, use him/her.
My husband works from 11–7, so he is on kid duty from the time they wake up until 9:30 AM. He has a commute and needs time to get ready.
This gives me around three hours in the morning. I put the kids to bed in the evening, but if our toddler decides to be difficult and is not asleep by 8:30, my husband is on duty so I can head to the back room to get another hour or two of work done.
I also work a couple of hours each day on the weekends, which is actually like a break for me. My husband takes our toddler outside, and I write while watching the baby. For now, we also have our toddler enrolled in two days a week of daycare.
This was not the original plan, but I found that I needed two solid days of not chasing my two-year-old son to fulfill all of my deadlines. This was a good balance and works for us, but all families are in different situations.
Find a schedule that works for you and go with it, but also understand that it might have to change in the future.
Declutter Your Workspace
I recommend that you have your own designated work space. Not only will this solidify a routine and provide some separation of home and work, but you can also earn a tax credit at the end of the year if you have a specific space dedicated only for work: Score!
If you work at a desk, make sure that Little Suzy’s half-eaten Oreo is not on your business receipt and Charlie’s bottle has not spilled all over your computer. Keep it clean, and you will experience less stress when working and treat your space as more of a place of business than a holding area for your child’s Legos.
Declutter Your Files
I lost an article once. Keyword: Once. It’s probably still in my computer mislabeled somewhere. I haphazardly tried to save it while my five-week-old was crying. At that time, I didn’t have a system.
I wrote some articles in LibreOffice and others in Google Docs. I even had a few pieces of articles on my phone because my toddler hates seeing me with a computer. It was chaos.
When your freelancing business picks up the pace, you can feel a bit overwhelmed keeping track of it all. You are your own manager, and you need a system that ensures that you don’t lose any of your work. I found that GoogleDocs works the best for me, and it is free so win-win.
Just like with emails I created my own business only Google Drive. I also made sure to utilize the folders. Just as a safety net, I also saved the articles in LibreOffice — a word-processing program similar to Microsoft Office but free. I like free! I am yet to lose another article to the cyber world before publishing it.
I have found that decluttering while working as an online tech freelancer has made me more productive, less stressed, and has saved me some valuable time. And that’s what a lot of moms want regardless of if they work in or out of the house.
They want more time — because as many mothers undoubtedly know — time goes by so incredibly fast.
Amanda Clark resides with her husband and two sons in Ocala, Florida. In addition to editing and working as a freelance writer for multiple sites, she also runs her own blog called Love Mommy Now.