To some, the freedom freelancing gives them to work from home is one of the main reasons they do it. We all thrive in different work environments and there are plenty who do their best work in the bedroom, away from your average office.
While working from home isn’t as relaxing and carefree as some people assume, it’s certainly an attractive option to plenty of people. So if you’re a work from home freelancer, how do you get set-up to make sure you’re going to do a good job?
Do You Live Somewhere Suitable?
First things first, does your home really lend itself to work? Think about the surrounding environment. It’s going to be difficult to concentrate if you live opposite somewhere noisy or smelly. If that’s not an issue, is your home really that suitable?
I occasionally worked from home in an old flat that was tiny and had thin walls. The only surface I had to write on was slightly too high, making it annoyingly awkward to use comfortably. The shared internet we had was incredibly poor and in the summer it got excruciatingly hot. The quality of my work dropped and I found it a lot easier to procrastinate. It was far from the right space to get any decent work done.
Of course, you might not have a choice about that anyway. Not all of us can just up and move to a nice new flat (I was in mine for 2 years before I got out) and at the same time we might not be in the position to turn down work. If that’s the case, you can use positive procrastination to improve your productivity.
Creating A Workspace
If it’s possible, try and dedicate an area of your home completely to your work. This will help you get into a more work-oriented mindset and help with your concentration. It also means you can easily sit yourself down to work without having to faff about too much.
If you have not not got the space to permanently pick a place, you still have a few choices.
The sofa might seem like a good place at first. It’s comfy and you’ll have no problem sitting there with your laptop, but there’s a big problem. There’s usually a TV and possibly a games console nearby and that can be a huge distraction. Even if you just watch a programme over your lunch, you can easily get hooked and then it’s 5pm before you know it.
Your ideal place is one where you can work in private, that’s at least a little comfortable and doesn’t have too many shiny things to distract you.
In the end, a roomy closet with a nice chair might just do the trick if you’re not too claustrophobic.
Of course, none of this might be possible if you live in a particularly small place or if you have only got the use of one stationary computer. It’s not the end of the world though. There’s a handy trick to get yourself focused in the same place you might usually watch TV or play video games.
Give the area a proper tidy rather than just plonking yourself down in front of the computer. Clear everything you don’t need, from books to small bits of rubbish. Get everything you might need, put it together and then start your work.
Putting in a little effort to get yourself ready before starting will help you get into a productive frame of mind.
Kids and Pets
There are loads of people out there who have started up a freelance career while at home with their kids. On top of that, you can learn plenty from pets, be they cats or dogs. Unfortunately, there are downsides to having kids or pets roaming around, especially if you’re on your own.
Luckily, it’s likely that if you’re working from home you’ll have flexibility with your time. This means you can set everything up around your kids’ feeding, playing and nap times to reduce any distraction. Obviously that’s not going to be foolproof, but it does work.
With pets it’s kind of the same. You need to put some time aside to deal with them. Whether it’s taking the dog out for a walk or opening the back door 300 times before you cat decides to come in or not, they will be a distraction.
The simple solution is to not worry so much about keeping a strict schedule for your day. There will be unexpected hiccups you’ll have to deal with. The more flexible you are the better.
A Bit of Health and Safety
There’s been plenty of talk about how our office jobs are slowly killing us due to being sat around all day. Our own Sophie Turton looked into the so-called “sitting disease” and offered a few tips on how to combat that.
The great thing about working from home is that it’s so much easier to look after yourself. Feel like going for a walk to your stretch your legs or get fresh air? At home there’s no one to stop or question you. Would feel a little awkward stretching in the middle of an office a few times a day? As long as no one can see through your window, you can do that in your flat whenever you like.
The flexibility that working from home offers, means you can keep yourself healthier and avoid the impending fate all those office workers face – slowly sitting themselves towards the end.
At home you’re welcome to go for a jog, swim or walk whenever you like. Not only is that good for you, but it means you’ll have a much better handle over your own time.
Photo by A. Davey