Working from home can be one of the greatest benefits when jumping into the freelancer workplace. It can also lead to the greatest distraction and allow displacement. (How many times have you taken the dog a walk when a project deadline raises?)
If you get the balance right you will become more productive, happy and avoid home disorder. So, to help get your juices flowing, here are 10 ways to help yourself when it comes to working from home.
Develop a workspace and set ground rules!
The key to success when working from home starts with your workspace. This will ideally be a spare bedroom, attic room or a simple table and chair set up in one corner of the living room.
Remember to make it a workspace, and remove all personal items, such as household bills, games consoles and/or the novel you read.
These things will distract you in a flash!
Make your office space a storage area for pens, paper, tape, stapler, books and everything you might need to work without leaving the area.
Then lay down the basic rules for your work area – personally and for other people who live in your house. An example of these rules can be found below;
Pretend I’m not here
If the door is closed, tap
Visits are limited to 5 minutes
Office space is not for other activities
Don’t touch my desk or computer? ever!
Create a control sheet
Start the day by breaking down all projects into a set list of tasks. Seeing this checklist will act a strong motivator for continuing to work. Free task management tools such as Asana are a great way (and also free) to keep track of freelance work and projects.
This tool contains every task, no matter how large or small allowing you to handle items one at a time until your working day ends. The status of remaining items on the list will also help you get started the next morning.
This can be an important tool for freelancers who work from home because many people organize their day during commuting to and from work. A running list can be an easy way to stay organized and on task.
Manage the time well
Just because you’re sitting in front of the computer doesn’t mean you’re working. Don’t let online distractions keep you from working. Turn off Facebook, Twitter and personal email accounts. (Yes, you should use a separate email address for work.)
The removal of digital distractions will help you work more efficiently and fly through each project at an impressive pace. Remember, one of the great benefits of freelancing allows you to work on your own time.
Dress for the day
Stop working in your pajamas. Every freelancer I know speaks about how this is one of the benefits of the job. It is not. Dress at work every day.
This is not to say that you need suits for the home office, but put on clean clothes, brush your teeth and treat the home office as an office. You will feel more confident, productive and won’t need to take a shower break if you have to run out to a client meeting or take a Skype call at a moments noticeCreating Your Ow n.
Set “Normal” office hours
You do not need to be glued to a desk chair or computer 40 hours a week, but you should have regular office hours. (This also helps with the household rules.)
Regular office hours should include at least some time during regular working hours (usually 9am to 5pm) for client meetings, recurring phone calls, and work with vendors. (I’m striving for about half of my office hours to fall during these hours.)
The rest of your regular office schedule can be during times that work for you.
Stick to this schedule as best you can. Try not to make meetings outside your workday. And if you do, remember to spend time with your friends? during another part of the day.
Keep track of spending and saving
Save the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves! Try to cut down on any daft spending patterns – A coffee from Starbucks or Costa everyday can cost you £20.00 per week or £80.00 per month.
Use this extra money to invest in yourself or something that will benefit your work / client base.
Keep a detailed report on both spending and savings to make sure work from home works for you. Just the thought that it costs you more to work out of a traditional office can lead to reduced productivity.
You need to feel safe and productive in your workspace to get the most out of working from home. If distractions, wasted time or cost weigh you, it may be worth looking for an alternative space, for example, going back to a traditional workplace or looking for a space to work out.
Being organised is different for each person. Creative Market had three great tips that work for almost everyone.
Keep an updated calendar: Use a paper calendar or a digital calendar to keep track of upcoming tasks and events.
Use a to-do list: Create a daily, weekly, or hour-to-do list to help you keep track of the various things you need to do.
Everything has a place: Make sure you keep all your different papers and projects neat and organized, not complicate your space by incorporating household bills or projects.
Take customers out of your home office
Finding a balance for the customer meeting when you work from home is often a challenge. (most people are not a fan of having customers in their home. Even with a workspace, it seems uncomfortable).
Cafes, quirky collaboration places, rented meeting rooms and even hot-desking at self-storage facilities are acceptable places to take client meetings. Choose a location that works for you and use it regularly. Consider taking a client out in the field. (This is common for photographers, especially when choosing the perfect spot for a shooter.)
Make sure your off-site site has everything you need for a great meeting. Are the tables big enough to show work product? Is there a reliable internet connection? How tall or quiet is the space? Does the space suit what you work with and feel professional enough?
Make a point to the network
The biggest complaint from many people working from home is the lack of an established network. Go out and create one.
Network online, but be sure to plan time to participate in network events in your area or annual professional conferences. Networks will help eliminate the lonely feeling and connect you to other professionals for idea sharing, customer building and collaboration. Even network events that are not adapted to your specific field may be beneficial. Many cities provide networking groups for workers based on generation or geography; get out and get involved.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting projects ready. Almost every designer has their own individual checklist of things to do and processes to make them. What other things have you done to promote getting more work done at home? We would love for you to share your tips with us in the comments.
Freelancing 101 is a monthly series to help the growing number of freelancers in the market. Whether you’re a designer, writer, developer or wearing several hats, we share tips, resources, and ideas to help you get the most out of your small business. Is there anything in particular you want to know? How do you feel about this series?
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