Cat NeliganTell us a bit about you!

My name is Cat Neligan, and I’m based in London. I work as a freelance designer (print and digital) by day, and an illustrator/blogger by night.

How long have you been freelancing, and why did you start?

I’m fairly new to the freelance game – I left my last job as a web designer in a small company in March 2013, and since then have been grabbing odd design jobs here and there, blogging, and pursuing my illustrator dreams. My main reason for going the freelance route was to escape the repetition. As much as I enjoyed the work I was doing for my last company, I wanted to experience more variation, and have more time for personal projects.

Let’s talk about the start of your day – are you an early riser, or a night owl?

I’m an early bird all the way! A typical day starts at 6am, with a little yoga and a lot of coffee. I’m most productive in the hours up until 3/4pm, so I get the majority of my ‘important’ jobs out of the way. I’m usually stuck at the screen basically! On days where I’m contracting I’ll be at a client’s office. It is nice to be in someone else’s office rather than my study for a change! At around 6pm I turn on my artistic brain, and get to work on illustration projects, and blogging. These are the things I do for passion, not to pay the bills, so they have to take a backseat for now!

What time do you start work?

I’m usually working away by 7. I  like to spend the first hour of my day as calmly as possible – yoga, a walk – it’s great to get some sun in the summer months first thing. I try not to check emails until 9am, and tackle my most important tasks before this, a la Tim Ferris. Sometimes I’ll get a quick workout in, if my day isn’t looking too hectic.

[themify_quote]I  like to spend the first hour of my day as calmly as possible – yoga, a walk – it’s great to get some sun in the summer months first thing.”[/themify_quote]

Do you work from home?

I do work mostly from home, and that suits me very well. Sometimes I get cabin fever and will take my laptop to a coffee shop to use their free wi-fi and see some human faces!

What’s your morning routine before you start work?

First thing is practising some gentle yoga for around 20 minutes. Next up is a cocktail of warm water, fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. I’m a bit of a health nut and obsessed with this stuff! Once I settle down to work, I’ll enjoy some coffee (bulletproof style – black coffee blended with butter and MCT oil – trust me it’s like rocket fuel!)

Do you take a lunch break?

Oh yes. If I’m at home, I like to spend some extra time preparing lunch – it breaks up the day and chills me out. If I’m at a client’s office, I always get out of the office for lunch – I can’t stand sitting at the desk over a sandwich! A little walk around in this time also seems to perk me up.

How do you tend to spend your afternoons?

I start to wind down in the afternoon, so I turn to tea breaks and try my best to stay focussed. Sometimes I’ll get non-work related chores done in this time, or take my work to a coffee shop.

How do you keep motivated? Do you have any particular techniques?

Luckily I love what I do – most of the time! So I don’t struggle with motivation. One thing I do to keep me focussed though is using a task manager, like Kanbanflow. This lets me plan my day/week/month really easily and I can set a timer on the task at hand. Every 25 minutes it goes off, and reminds me to stand up/move about/get some water (I have 5 minutes to do this in) and get back to work.

[themify_quote]Kanbanflow lets me plan my day/week/month really easily and I can set a timer on the task at hand.” [/themify_quote]

What time do you tend to sign off for the day?

Hmm this is one I struggle on! I try to shut down the laptop between 8-9pm, and give my eyes (and brain!) some rest. I might get to work with a pen and paper (old school!) or just chill out with a book.

Tell us – what’s your favourite thing about freelancing?

The excitement! I love that every day is different. I love being in charge of my schedule. I love having direct contact with clients, and feeling like I’m responsible for the projects I’m working on. I also love being able to work in my pjs if I fancy it!

And your least favourite thing about freelancing?

The instability. It is scary not knowing where the next job is going to come from, and how sustainable that is. Also, being a bit of a workaholic, I tend to take on more work than I should, which is sometimes a bit stressful and I often need talking down!

What tools/apps/gadgets/things could you not live without as a freelancer?

Kanbanflow for time management, Redbooth for projects, Google drive for storing and sharing documents, F.Lux (turns down the blue light on my laptop when the sun goes down), my Wacom tablet for drawing digitally.

Where can we find you online?

My illustration portfolio:
My design portfolio:
My blog:
Twitter: @catfoodisgood4u / @catillest
Facebook: /

I’m currently free to take on new clients for blog or website re-design. If you want anything from a logo refresh to a total overhaul, I’m available to chat. Email me at:

The Big Question – What’s the secret to your success?

Passion! Wanting something enough and making sure I pull out all the stops to achieve my goals.

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