When I first started developing websites, I worked nights and weekends – basically whenever I had a project. Early on, I was trying to gain the confidence of my customers and was also trying to learn everything I could about developing websites. Projects took me much longer to complete because I was learning as I was doing.
Now I’m lucky enough to have a pretty steady flow of work and lots of return customers that keep me busy. I still learn by doing, but I have developed “go to” resources that really reduce my development time. And I know that working nights and weekends isn’t a optimal work/life balance and it’s a good way to to become burned out. Sure, I still work nights and weekends for projects with tight deadlines, but for the most part, I try to keep a 9-5 schedule and spend my off time with family and friends doing other things that I enjoy.
That means I have to be pretty focused during the week. One way I do that is by using Gmail’s filters to keep me focused. I love Gmail. I can give you dozen reasons why, but one of the main reasons is the ability to filter the email you get. As a developer, I subscribe to quite a few blogs to keep up on the latest news and developments in the industry as well as new tutorials. But, while I’m working during the day, I don’t want to be distracted with a ton of things in my inbox. So I use Gmail’s ability to create email ‘aliases’. What that means is that instead of my regular email “email@example.com”, I can add a plus sign and some letters and create a brand new email that still gets sent to me. So, whenever I sign up for newsletters related to WordPress development, I’ll sign up with the email firstname.lastname@example.org. That email still gets sent to me, but by using Gmail’s filters, I have it set up so that any email that comes to email@example.com automatically skips my inbox and goes straight to my “weekend reading” folder that I created. No need to create a new filter each time I sign up. One note- sometimes when you sign up you have to confirm your sign up within 24 hours, so be sure to check your folder right away so you don’t miss that confirmation.
So each Saturday, I go through that folder and catch up on all the news for the week. Gmail, by default, sets up separate inboxes for promotions and social emails, but I prefer to filter these myself so I have more control and I’m not distracted by those inboxes filling up. And I can read each category when I’m ready for it.
If you want to learn more about Gmail, take a look at this article that gives some great Gmail tips.
Are you interested in more tips on staying organized and focused as a work-from-home freelancer? I’d love to hear what you use.