Freelancers Need a Productive Set-Up
One of the advantages of a traditional office is that you have a place to go and work every day. There you have your desk, computer and working environment created for exactly that purpose.
As I manage projects with team members around the world, my friends often wonder how I keep everyone on task when many are not even in the country. Those that work from home, as many freelancers do, may get distracted by their environment, which raises the question: what is the ideal set-up for remote workers?
Ultimately, there is no “ideal”. It depends on your personality, preference and the type of work you do. I personally like to have music, especially jazz, playing in the background while I work as I find it hard to be productive in a completely quiet environment. I also prefer to be indoors, rather than outdoors, but with a nice view from my desk.
Below are some practical suggestions that will help you stay on track as a freelancer, no matter where you work.
• Choose your workspace
While having a dedicated office at home is ideal, this might not be an option for everyone. Instead, identify a space, perhaps a quiet coffee shop that allows you to spend a productive day with minimum distractions. Remember, you do not want to work in an environment that is poorly lit, or one that does not provide comfortable seating to support your neck and spine while you work.
• Ensure your set-up is properly equipped
Depending on the type of work you do, if you need to print documents or scan artworks, make sure the printers and scanners are close to you – perhaps, in the same co-working space or in a print shop that is near the coffee shop you prefer to work in. You do not want to waste time driving to and from those locations and, in turn, waste your productive time.
• Take some time out
Even if you work at home, remember to take a break. Break away from your workspace completely by going for a walk, meditating or heading downstairs to the kitchen to have a coffee. The idea is to leave the office space for a while. The less I take a break, the more distracted I become and more prone I become to procrastination. When I pause, however, I am more productive afterwards.
• Dress up for work
One relative is a freelancer and works from home and although her friends assume she does so in her pyjamas, she actually dresses up for work. She puts on her work outfit, sometimes heels, and heads to her home office. She says this helps her stay in a work state of mind.
• Set dedicated working hours
The thing about being a freelancer or an entrepreneur is that you can easily end up working 12 or sometimes 14 hours a day without realising. Set proper business working hours with a lunch break in between so that you do not end up over-working. Let your clients know what your working hours are and make it clear you are unavailable to answer calls and emails outside that time frame. The same should apply to checking your emails. Don’t reply and draft new emails after midnight. Studies have shown that this can cause stress and hinders productivity. France, for example, set a law that makes it illegal for managers of companies that employ more than 50 staff to email co-workers on weekends.
Working remotely should not stop you from being productive. In fact, if you schedule your work day, take breaks and choose an appropriate set-up, you could be more productive.
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