Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking about some of the things I couldn’t do without, as well as the things I probably could. Ironically, this blog is almost definitely something I could do without at the moment!

What I couldn’t do without

1 Apps and tools to keep me organised

There are loads out there. I use Planner (comes with Office 365) which is basically Microsoft’s version of Trello. I’d be lost without lists and a system to track how projects are progressing. I’ve also started using Toggl which logs how you use your time. This is a handy list of tools to make freelancing easier.

2 Whiteboards (yes, plural)

My last employers had a hotdesking policy in an open plan office. Lovely new offices. But I really missed having a whiteboard. It was the first thing I bought when I went freelance. My main whiteboard wouldn’t look out of place in a classroom, but I love it and use it all the time. Making lists, writing down ideas, planning world domination, that kind of thing.

3 A very expensive cable that connects my laptop to a monitor

Sometimes the small things can make such a difference. I put it off for months because I couldn’t bring myself to get ripped off by Apple. But I shouldn’t have. I find running an extended screen so much easier, particularly when I’m analysing data or need to hop between different documents. Getting your workstation right for you is a good idea.

4 A big cafetiere

Not only does it make better coffee than instant, I can get 2 ½ mugs out of it which is a big deal when there are 2 flights of stairs between the kitchen and office.

5 Specialist software

I pay a reasonable amount for specialist survey and analysis software. There are free options out there. I could have made do with basic online surveys and spreadsheets. But to me they’re worth the investment. The time I can save pretty much covers the subscription costs and I think they help me to deliver better quality services.  It’s always worth thinking about which areas of your business are worth investing in.

What I could have done without

1 Taking on too much, too soon

As if everything involved in getting a new freelance business off the ground wasn’t enough, I’ve been trying my best to complete a professional qualification, signed up to a marathon, took on a side project and committed to a monthly newsletter and regular blogs. I’ve got something out of all of these, but I know I’ve not made things easy for myself.

As highlighted by Steve in Sophie’s latest Kickstart Story (well worth a read by the way), “you can do anything, but you can’t do everything”.

2 Box of 500 business cards

I still think there’s a place for business cards. I’ve been asked for mine at a few events. Although Meg has put together a compelling argument against them. Either way, the value is definitely in quality, not volume. They should say something about you as a business. I now have 483 poor quality business cards to get shut of. I’ll start again next year.

3 Imposter syndrome

I think a lot of people struggle with this. Me too. I’ve never talked about it, but I have my wobbles. I get it when I work on projects for new clients. I feel like I’m not going to be able to deliver it to the standard they expect. It also holds me back from finding new clients. There are some people I’d like to work with, but I’ve not had the confidence to get in touch because I don’t think I’m good enough. I need to get over this in 2019.

4 A second whiteboard

On reflection, this was a bit over the top for a small home office. I actually can’t remember why I thought I needed the second one. It would make a great tactics board for Football Manager though.

5 Booze

Okay, I can’t do without this full stop. I like a glass of red too much. But I’ve probably had a drink on more nights than I should because I didn’t have the 6am commute in the morning. I do need to be a bit stricter next year. No point starting over Christmas.

Tomorrow, I’ll be blogging about the value of learning, support and networks.

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