Social Media: The Productive Freelancer’s Arch Enemy

It’s Monday, the first day of a new week. Although we freelancers tend to work 24/7, most of us can (and SHOULD!) eke out a little time for fun and family over the weekend. So today’s the first day back to a full-plate of work. We start off the week with the best of intentions, we’ve all got an enemy out there who wants to kill our productivity. No, it’s not a competing firm or terrible client, it’s that oh-so-innocent-looking social media MONSTER. It lurks in our bookmarks, our browser history, and for some, our literal muscle memory: we open, check, and browse social media websites constantly.

Unfortunately, sometimes social media is part of our legitimate work, so the temptation to flush hours down the drain clicking through photo albums and sharing clever memes is almost too much to bear. If you’re trying to make the most of your eight hour day, the key is to work smarter, not get up earlier, and smart work begins with eliminating time sucks like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest of ’em.

Scroll through the infographic below for shocking stats about how much your social media obsession could be costing your business, and then check out our list of tips for shoving this beast back in its cage.

Social Media Monster [Infographic]

Shocked by how much time (and money) you’re wasting? Here are some tips from Apartment Therapy about how to avoid the siren song of social media:

1. If you use Google Chrome, you can install StayFocusd , a simple browser extension which lets you set time limits on how long you spend on certain sites.

2. Clean house on your Friends/Followers list. Fewer unnecessary connections means less distracting junk showing up in your feeds and streams. Don’t want to delete loose connections? Consider using some of Facebook’s built in feed settings  to control how much you see.

3. Consolidate. Flipboard ( for Android , iOS ) lets you consolidate a digest of social media sources, prioritizing what it sees as big stories (based on your social graph). Bringing together content from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even Google+, Flipboard is a great way to get a quick dose of stories from all the social sites you frequent without hopping all over the web.

Got other tips for avoiding the social media time-suck? Share them in a comment!

Infographic Courtesy of Red e App

9 Stats That Prove Coworking Really Does Work [Infographic]

calculator

Are you a skeptic? Do you resist emotional assessments and rely instead on cold, hard, fact?

We use a lot of warm and fuzzy language when we talk about coworking. We use words like “community,” “relationships,”  “openness,” and “collaboration.” You may be thinking, “that all sounds nice, but is there any REAL proof coworking we really make me happier and more successful?”

We’re so glad you asked.

We’ve got some friends over in Germany who run a little publication called Deskmag. It’s the first online magazine completely dedicated to the global coworking community in the world. Every year, they take it upon themselves to conduct a massive online survey of location-independent workers all over the world. Then, they analyze the results from about 50 different angles and use the data to help inform those inside and outside the community.

This year, they rustled up a neat little infographic to show off some of the most impressive statistics. So here’s your proof. Happy scrolling!

coworking_works_infographic

 

Image via jakeandlindsay/Flickr

How To Tackle The 4 Most Common Freelancing Pitfalls

There’s nothing easy about freelancing. There are perks, oh yes, wonderful perks that cubicle dwellers can only dream of, but it’s hardly piece of cake.

Freelancing puts our minds, bodies, and families to the test. It can be stressful, terrifying, and incredibly gratifying, but as a freelancer, you’re left to deal with each one of those in turn, all on your own.

Well, if you’re coworking, you’re never really alone. There’s an entire community of entrepreneurs going through each one of those stages right along with you. And we all know that misery (and joy!) loves company.

Check out the infographic below for some interesting stats about the highs and lows of the freelance life. Then keep scrolling for ways to tackle each.

Pitfall 1: Unemployment

This is a tough one, because every freelancer lives in that vague place between feast and famine. When contract end and you’re desperately in need of new work, what should you do? Well, as a coworking freelancer, you have a definite advantage. Others might start trolling sites like Elance or Guru, prepared to auction their time off to the lowest bidder, but not you. Coworkers are a built in network of lead generators. Before getting desperate, mention to a few desk mates that you’ve got time for new projects. Post your skills and availability on the Cohere Facebook group. Chances are, someone who knows someone will be calling for a meeting before you know it.

Pitfall 2: Scraping By

This is a continuation of Pitfall 1, because when you can’t find work, money dries up almost instantly. The best way to hedge your bets is to save more in times of plenty. Instead of splurging on expensive dinners or a new iPhone during busy months, stash an extra 10 or 20 percent in a high yield savings account. If you’ve always had trouble saving or sticking to a budget, online tools like Mint.com can help you get organized and remind you when you’re spending over your limits.

Pitfall 3: Health Care

This is a huge one. I don’t know a single freelancer that isn’t concerned about how to find or keep affordable insurance. The fact is that for all its heinousness, the corporate world does have one big advantage: group buying power. But freelancers are slowly eeking out a place for themselves in this industry as well. Check out the limited group plans offered by Freelancers Union. If that doesn’t help, check into possibly benefits offered by any professional organizations or unions you might be a part of. And if you’re not a part of one, think about joining. You’ll be surprised how easy it is, and it looks good on a resume too.

Pitfall 4: Getting Stiffed

Fighting with a client who always pays late or doesn’t want to pay at all? You’re not alone. Last month, freelancers from around the country added their unpaid invoices together and the total came out to be more than $15 million dollars. Because freelancers aren’t afforded the same protection as brick and mortar businesses when it comes to collecting unpaid bills, many of us end up eating these losses. There’s no guarantee that a crappy client won’t try to stiff you, but there are some definite steps you can take to minimize risk.

First, do your research. Once a deadbeat, always a deadbeat. Use this Client Scorecard  to check a company’s track record before you sign on the dotted line. Second, always, ALWAYS use a contract. You can make one here, or ask any of our established members to share examples of the contracts they use. If a company presents one to you, make sure you understand every line before signing. Third, get partial payment upfront, especially if it’s a project over $1,000.

Do you struggle with any of these pitfalls? How have you overcome them? Share your experiences in a comment!

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