The Freelancer’s Guide to the Home Office
If you’re working as a freelancer, chances are you got your start working from home. The home office comes with its own special set of ups and downs: in general, it’s more comfortable than going out to a shared office or co-working space, but it can also encourage laziness. Sometimes it’s hard to work when no one’s looking.
Motivation might be more internal than external, but there’s no doubt that external factors can influence you. Here are a few tricks you can use to make sure your home office isn’t holding you back.
1) Dedicate a space or computer for work
For workers with sizable homes, the obvious solution is to set up a separate study room that you use exclusively for work. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible in big cities with small apartments. The next best thing is to at least confine your work to your desk, rather than letting it spread to the dining table or the bed. How long can you really stay focused if you’re lying in bed?
Depending on your job, it can help to have your work on a laptop and to use a desktop or another laptop as your home computer. A dedicated computer will give you fewer digital distractions, and it’ll make it easier to relax when you shut the work computer off for the day.
2) Go paperless and stay organized
We’re all paperless to an extent, but some documents are hard to get rid of. One trick I’ve grown fond of is scanning digital copies of tax documents, shipping receipts, and other paper items that I might have to refer to. Stack the paper documents neatly in a folder and leave them at arm’s reach for emergencies. Most of the time, you won’t even have to touch the file, because a quick reference to your digital copy will be all you need.
Paper or paperless, having documents close at hand can be a big time saver if you’re doing anything related to law or finance. Imagine having to rummage through a mess of documents every time you bill a client. Going paperless helps, but it’s crucial to keep your digital and analog documents as organized as possible.
3) Plan out your rewards and productivity boosters
Among the many perks at trendy startup offices and co-working spaces, craft coffee and beer consistently make the top of the list. So-called trivialities like catered meals and quality snacks can make a real difference to the work day, even if traditional benefits or a pay raise would be financially equivalent.
You’re at home, so you have all the freedom in the world to curate your office’s edible perks. If you enjoy coffee or tea, invest in a quality product and use it as motivation in the morning or after lunch. At the same time, you can stock the fridge with beer and other treats as an end-of-day reward, or as a way to relax after finishing a project.
In addition, don’t forget that meals (both what you eat and where you eat it) overlap with office management. If you’re already fired up, then by all means, slap together a sandwich and eat at your computer. But if you’re feeling a bit groggy, taking a walk and buying something nice might give you the boost that you need. Think of it as a catered meal that brightens up the afternoon.
The best part of home office management is that you don’t have to run your changes by anyone. It’s literally your home; if you want to experiment with a new lamp color or a different brand of coffee, just do it. These tips offer a few general guidelines, but given the ultra-fast iterations you can do at the home office, it won’t take long to build upon this and find the perfect solution for your own needs.
[Stefan writes content for Share Your Office, a real estate tech startup that offers on-demand listings of offices, meeting rooms, and coworking spaces.]