Decided to dive into the world of freelancing from home? Working from home is one of the reasons for the rise in popularity of freelancing. There’s more flexibility in your workload and working hours. Here you’ll find some tips on setting up a work space with efficiency and healthy working in mind. First you should write out a list of everything you will need to work with and then you can start to check them off.
Work station tips: for your health
Desk & chair
If you don’t have one already, think carefully about this decision. Think about all the things you will need to put on your desk and whether the one you’ve got in mind is big enough.
Most office workers, freelance or not, spend a large part of their day sitting in the same chair. Make sure it’s comfortable, sturdy, and ergonomic. A bad chair can lead to back, shoulder or knee pain, causing distractions and possible long term problems. Don’t want to spend loads? Get cushions or back supports you can add on to your existing chair.
Mouse & keyboard
These should be easily reached and you should try to keep your wrists straight to avoid strain. Think about investing in wrist supports for your mouse mat and for underneath your keyboard. If they’re at a strange angle, you will easily strain yourself and want nothing more than to step away from the computer. Think about going wireless as this gives you freedom to move them around and avoid tangled wires.
Footrests might seem pointless when there’s a perfectly good floor but they can help some people avoid knee and hip pain. Stop fidgeting and try to keep your feet flat on the floor or footrest.
Make sure it’s not too close and it’s at eye level to avoid neck and eye strain. Also, try to learn as much as you can about them in case you run into technical difficulties. If you can fix a problem yourself you will save time and money from hiring a professional. Make sure your computer is kept up to date, has anti-virus software and the right spec for your work needs.
Try to keep objects you use often within easy reach to prevent excessive stretching. Think about creating a separate phone line for your business as home phones may make you seem less professional to customers. You don’t want customers and family members to be leaving messages in the same place or your kids answering the phone to a potential client.
Office tips: for your sanity
Before you end up turning your office into another living room, think about the purpose of this room. Try to keep it exclusively for business. You should be able to walk into that room and feel like you’re at work, then walk out at the end of the day and go home without taking your work with you. It’s very easy for freelance work to bleed into your home life and if you’re not careful it’ll end up eating away at your time (and sanity).
Make use of natural light as much as you can. It can help with mood, fatigue, and overall productivity. No one misses the lighting in office buildings and now you have more control over your surroundings, take advantage of that. Position your computer in a way that avoids glare.
If you have a lot of paper documents, invest in a filing cabinet so that you know exactly where everything is. Try to keep all of your filing in your office space unless it becomes too distracting or cramped.
One of the perks of working at home is having control over how your office looks. However, there is a fine line between keeping the office from looking sterile and going overboard with the personalisation. The key is to remember that efficiency and productivity are the most important things. Use light and bright colours that are relaxing and not too distracting. If you put up pictures, think about ones that inspire or motivate you.
If you need a bit of noise to work, try the radio or make a playlist of music just for work. It will help remind you that it’s time for work if you associates it with a specific type of music. Don’t pick music too distracting or loud. Some people pick classical or instrumental music so that there aren’t any lyrics that get you thinking (or singing along.)
If you don’t have the space or you’re just starting out, it can be frustrating seeing all those Instagram offices which look beautiful (and under used). Here are some tips on how to remain productive if you’ve only got a table to work from.
Tell yourself you’re at work and there is no room for distractions. If you live with others tell them that they’re not to disturb you while you’re at work. Your family should recognise that you’re working by setting strict hours, sitting at your desk or by another signal e.g. wearing headphones. You could also try a room separator and tell anyone you live with that when you go behind it, you are in work mode and are not to be disturbed.
Invest in a scanner
To avoid being overwhelmed by heavy filing cabinets or swamped by piles of paper, get into the habit of scanning all your important documents. If you ever need a hard copy you can just print them off. If you do this, back up, and back up again. Use external hard drives, USB sticks and cloud storage, preferably a combination.
If all else fails, you may want to try co-working. You usually pay a month fee where you can use a desk, coffee and interaction with other freelancers. Some people work from libraries as they’re free, quiet spaces with Internet access, scanners, printers and all the books you need.
Once you’ve set your office up, you can then get to work. Flexibility is great but you should still decide on set office hours so that you can get stuff done. If you don’t decide, you’ll end up spending the day watching just one more episode of a TV show.
Thinking of setting up your own home office or already gone ahead? What other tips would you give? Let us know in the comments.