How to stay on top of personal development and training when working for yourself

Gina Clarke shares her routine to stay on top of personal development as a freelancer. 

Being self-employed and working from home is difficult to manage. Distractions are everywhere and a lack of management or pressures from colleagues mean that self-discipline and a strict routine are key to keeping on top of both work life and home life.

Here’s a look into my routine, and how to keep focus and stay on top of career development outside of a traditional office environment.

The morning routine

I’m at my desk ready to start work at 08:30. If you can’t do it by yourself single handed then it won’t work. Can you cope if the kids don’t get out of bed or a sock has gone missing? No? Then move your wake-up time forward 10-minutes.

I try to keep my evenings low key so that I’m ready to crack on as soon as I wake up. If that can’t be helped though, sometimes I’ll use an evening or two to prep ahead of the morning. As long as the kids have their school stuff ready to go – we’re good.

Tips for work and home life balance:

  • Don’t schedule unrealistic expectations

If someone wants to talk at 3pm when you’re on the school run, ask to move it an hour later and get the kids on board with a TV programme or snack while you shut the door and sneak back to work.

  • Split your time between roles

Splitting time in to ‘work me’ and ‘home me’ helps with productivity and focus. When children come home they will naturally want to talk or do their homework, so they need me around. 

  • Simplify where you can

To simplify my time, I rarely take a proper lunch break, I just grab something from the kitchen. This means from the moment I sit down I’m more productive than in an office environment, where coffee breaks and kitchen chats are tempting.

On an evening I use meal services like Hello Fresh and Gousto to cook following instructions – this uses up less mental energy than cooking.

Training and career development tips:

Working for yourself, from home can sound like heaven however, it can leave you out of the loop in terms of training and development. I keep up with the latest developments in my industry and pushes myself by following my own advice.

  • Take advantage of online training

I subscribe to various organisations for my own personal development, I’m a member of the NUJ and look for courses where possible (that fit in with childcare) but I often do online training and network through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • Show your face at important events

I managed to head off to Turin in 2017 for a 5-day experience looking at new developments in journalism, that really spurred me on to develop my business online.

I do visit London perhaps twice a year for networking events also. Is it more challenging? Not necessarily, I find I’m meeting more targeted people who can help me, but certainly more organisation is needed instead of being able to dash out for a drink after work.

  • Appreciate the opportunities

I find people are very accepting of the fact that I don’t live in the city and that I do have children. Remote working is becoming a plus as people value your experience, not your time keeping. Plus, I find I’ve got a better head space to appreciate opportunities when I see them.


About the author

Gina Clarke is a freelance PR and journalist. Gina has shared her tips and advice as part of bathstore’s ‘Morning Routines Matter’ campaign.


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