Most freelancers are eager for tips and information, turning to
forums, classes, and networking for ways to learn and improve. But did
you ever consider looking to your canine for some wisdom? Here are a few
things your dog knows that just may improve your freelancing life.
Walk it Off
If you keep to set work hours, it may seem wrong to interrupt those
by taking a nice long walk. But there are always those ‘off’ days: your
brain just isn’t cooperating, the contacts you need are all unavailable,
or some other worry is dominating your thoughts. Why not take a walk?
A change of scene and some exercise can be more productive than
staying parked at your laptop. You may be hit with fresh inspiration,
or, you may work out whatever issue was holding you back. Next time work
isn’t flowing, don’t force it by staring at your computer. Grab the
nearest dog, turn off your smartphone, and take a walk.
If dogs were freelancers, they’d have low advertising budgets and
packed schedules. After all, what dog can pass another dog, or person,
without itching to say hello? And once the ‘hello’ goes well (which it
usually does), they’ll go into a full introduction, then seal the deal
with some playtime or affection. Instant connections!
While greeting people that zealously may raise an eyebrow, you can
still learn from his techniques. At your next networking event, think
like a dog – of course you should stop and say hello. Why wouldn’t that
person want to talk to you? When you are out and about your everyday
life, take stock of the people you pass. Say hello more. Exchange
pleasantries with those you repeatedly cross paths with. Word of mouth
is the best, and cheapest, form of advertising.
Don’t Forgo Sleep
You have three looming deadlines, a family reunion in the planning,
and two kids in the height of soccer playoffs. You may be desperate to
squeeze some extra time out of your day, but take your canine’s example,
and don’t skimp on sleep.
Sleep is an important commodity to a freelancer. One abbreviated
night’s sleep can leave you slow and groggy the next day. Several
sleep-cheated nights may get your project done in time, but you’ll be
left worn out, irritable, and susceptible to illness.
Take your pup’s example. No matter how many tennis balls he intends
to chase in one day, he still maintains a solid sleep schedule around
Protect your Territory
Friendly as they are, a dog is also very protective. He may be happy
to see just about anyone, but when someone ventures a bit too close
without being invited, a warning bark may be in order.
The same applies to freelancing. It’s great to share ideas,
knowledge, and the occasional lead with colleagues. It’s admirable to
give a newcomer advice or resources to get them started. But it’s also
important to know what to protect. If a colleague is always hitting you
up without giving back, or if a newcomer repeatedly asks the same
questions while making no effort on her own, perhaps it’s time for that
Don’t Eliminate Your Treats
Have you ever seen your dog forgo his daily game of Frisbee, or turn
away a chew toy, because he’s just got too much to do? One of the
benefits of freelancing is giving yourself time to hit the gym, see your
child’s school play, or have coffee with a colleague.
No matter your worries, take time to do the things you enjoy. Of
course, there will be times where you’ll have to make compromises, but
don’t slide too far down that slippery slope of constantly shortchanging
yourself. Over the year, maintain a healthy balance of work and play.
Whether or not you own a dog, there’s a lot they can teach you when it comes to managing your freelance lifestyle!