Using recruitment agencies to find work, bad sleep and more from 10th April 2024

Posted by

On 10th April eleven freelancers met in the Battle of Trafalgar pub in Brighton to talk all things freelancing, and many things about cooking too.

Some of what we talked about:

  • Clarity website visitor tracking
  • Big companies and awkwardness – Microsoft, Google, Apple
  • Spreading vacancies out to job boards
  • E-learning
  • Businesses we’ve worked in
  • Going freelance
  • Contracting
  • Using recruitment agencies
  • Visiting all your clients
  • Getting work in
  • “Err on the side of promoting yourself too much”
  • Long Covid effects
  • House improvements
  • Work referrals
  • Streaming as a part time job
  • Changing race with your VR avatar and different reactions to it (thankfully positive)
  • Using cornflour in cooking
  • Pigeons can solve the Monty Hall problem
  • How Google makes extra money in services
  • Culinary adventures
  • Bad sleep patterns and are they solvable?


Contracting and using recruitment agencies to find work

Talking to someone who is newly freelance this week, contracting and getting work through recruitment agencies came up.

In short, if you like working on one project at a time, if you like being part of a team, and if you don’t mind a bit of travel (much, much less than there used to be), contracting is a good thing to look at as a freelancer, especially if you are in tech.

You can get contracts direct with clients, but it’s much more common to go through a recruitment agency. A lot of tech people get annoyed with recruiters due to personality clashes. Resist that. A good recruiter is worth their weight in gold, and if you’re good at a form of programming or other digital work and reliable, they will be more than happy to get you lots and lots of work.

You can read more about becoming a contractor with our article How To Start Making Money as a Tech Contractor

Bad sleep patterns

In much of freelancing, you’re only earning money if you’re getting work done. Bad sleep patterns really knock your productivity, so can be a serious issue.

Things some of us have tried (or are trying) to get better sleep:

  • Turning off notifications in the evening
  • Having a “shut down” routine when finishing work
  • No screen time an hour before bed
  • No coffee in the evening
  • No coffee in the afternoon
  • Not having your phone in the bedroom (and getting an old fashioned alarm clock)
  • Reading before trying to sleep
  • Mild exercise before bed
  • Meditation
  • Kalms tablets (Valerian root extract)
  • Melatonin tablets (hard to get in the UK)

I don’t think any of these will be a revelation to you if you’ve looked into solving your own bad sleep patterns. One I should probably explain more is having a shut down routine. I picked this up from the Focused podcast and I found I was doing a version of it already. David Sparks has a routine where he:

  • Stops at a set time (set-ish, things happen, but mainly regular hours)
  • Writes his task list for the next day
  • Says out loud “I’m shutting down”
  • Leaves where he works

Personally, I don’t do the saying out loud part, but maybe I should as I’m trying to solve some insomnia at the moment. I do make a to do list for the next day on paper and leave myself notes either on paper or digitally about what I was doing and what I think I need to do next to progress tasks. I find dumping out what’s in my mind and setting up how to think about it the next day useful as it helps me not think about work during the evening.

I strongly recommend the Focused podcast if you’re interested in productivity, but want a version that lets you have a life outside work. Their tag line is “life is more than cranking widgets” and their conversations and advice support that – you want to be productive while working, and spend lots of time away from work. A very mature attitude that helps you have a sustainable business.