Freelancing can be liberating for some. For others, the idea of working at home — where you eat, sleep, and watch TV — can feel overwhelming. Distractions abound, you likely don’t have (human) companions, and there’s no tech support for those times when your Wi-Fi goes down. As a freelancer, time is money, so your workspace must be conducive to productivity.
Here are five tips for upgrading your workspace to maximize your output and earnings.
1. Minimize Clutter and Distraction.
Not everyone has an entire room to devote to their workspace, but even those in studio apartments can devote an area that isn’t the couch, bed, or kitchen table to set up shop. Find a corner that isn’t used for any other purpose, preferably facing away from your bed and TV, and keep clutter in that space to a minimum.
“My desk is plain and simple,” says Danielle Stevens, a Walk West marketing specialist who works remotely. “With room for two boxes of important papers on each side underneath and no drawers, I purposefully wanted a clean workspace.”
If you do live in a small space, consider a pop-up card table that can be moved or taken down if needed.
2. Find a Window.
Natural light is good for you in many ways — one of which is its ability to increase your energy and productivity. If possible, set up your workspace facing or near a window.
“I used to work in a basement office, and it felt like a jail cell after a while with fluorescent lights and no windows,” says Kaylee Reed, an influencer marketing manager and creative consultant based in Montreal. “I prioritized an apartment with huge windows and natural light from early morning until evening, and now I actually feel rejuvenated each work day and am way more productive.”
If you don’t have much natural light, not to worry. Set a timer to remind you to go outside, or consider working at a coffee shop a few hours a week.
3. Consider Ergonomics.
While a treadmill desk may not be feasible for your space or your style, you should find a solution that supports your physical health. The jury is still out on standing desks, but there are certain ergonomic guidelines for your workspace to keep your body comfortable, happy, and injury-free. Take the time to shop for and create the right chair, desk, and computer setup — even if your space is limited.
4. Use a Time Tracker.
One of the biggest perks of freelancing is working when you want to work. One of the biggest downsides? Working when you want to work. It’s easy to click around on social media or take a half dozen coffee breaks during billable hours, and you may not even realize how much time you are wasting on unproductive activities. Set up a time tracking app to get a to-the-minute accounting of your work day — this will help you identify where you could improve your focus, more accurately bill clients, and earn more for the time you actually spend on work. In addition, good accounting software can help you streamline invoices and payments to ensure you receive what you earn.
5. Take Security Seriously.
As a freelancer, you likely don’t have an IT department to set up your equipment, remind you to update your passwords, or monitor suspicious activity on your wireless router. However, the security of your data — and sensitive information from your clients — depends on your ability to manage these things on your own. Follow these detailed steps to protect your network from hackers — or your cheap neighbors trying to mooch off your WiFi — and consider adding a layer of security with a virtual private network (VPN).
Whether you’re new to freelancing or have worked from home for years, there are always opportunities to make your space more comfortable and conducive to your needs.