This week we are lucky to have a guest blog from Lisa Dellow. A Virtual Presence.
Oh the joys of working from home! There are so many, no daily commute, being at your desk within 20 minutes of falling out of bed (including the time it takes to whizz up some healthy sludge in the Nutribullet) going for a walk when you choose, having what you like for lunch, the list is almost endless.
When I left my very full time, long-term job, I couldn’t wait for it all to begin, and in the main with a few small blips it has worked out the way I hoped. But I was lucky that I had time to prepare really well.
I think the priority for most freelancers is finding clients, which of course is very important. But spare a thought for where you will be working. I am lucky enough to have a dedicated room to work from and obviously this is ideal, but even if you can only manage a small corner of a room, this is your work space, and it’s crucial that it’s treated as such, and is the right environment for you to work effectively.
Of course, there are obvious things like your desk and chair which we pretty much take for granted. But even these basic pieces of kit need to be right. Is your chair the right height for the desk? Are you going to be comfortable sitting in it for several hours a day? Is it too hard, too soft? Is there enough space on the desk for your IT equipment and still enable you to take notes?
Most of my IT life I have used a PC but thought a laptop would be fine for my new freelance life, and it is for short periods of time. But after the first few weeks and permanent back ache from hunching over it, I purchased a monitor. I just find it so much easier looking up rather than down at my screen. I also purchased a mouse because I just can’t work as quickly with the laptop’s pad.
Keep your desk tidy, search out cable boxes or ties, no one wants to work at a desk covered in wires. Invest in screen and keyboard wipes so your equipment is never sticky or dusty. Get a Bluetooth headset that is compatible with multiple devices, your computer for Skype, your phone, so that you can speak and take notes.
Twenty years ago someone told me we would soon be living in the paperless society, well, I’m still waiting! I for one, cannot do without a notebook on my desk. To take notes from clients and to make notes for my own business. And of course, the to do list is an essential. What can be more satisfying than crossing all your achievements off on an actual list? It can be a notebook, or if you have the space a white board is a good idea, with different coloured pens for different clients, nothing like a bit of stationery!
Think about paper, yes paper, remember the entirely paperless society has still not arrived. You will be sent paper, you may need to print invoices, instructions from clients. I recently had to trawl through some Zip files for a client to enter the data on a spreadsheet and it was far too time consuming to do on a computer, I had to print it out. So will you need a small filing cabinet, or at least drawer where you can store files with client details, invoices etc.?
Try to have an environment where you can concentrate, minimise distractions. Turn off notifications, you don’t need to know every single time an email pops into your box. Check them every half an hour if you need to. If there are other family members at home, make it clear that you are working (earning money) obviously this is difficult with young children, but anyone who is old enough to understand must be told at such and such a time, you are not cook, cleaner, chief fixer, or even Mum or Dad, you are a professional working person.
Working from home is fantastic, just ensure you make it as fantastic as it can be.
Share with us in the comments box how you have made your home office work for you. Do you have a dedicated space to work from or are you squashed onto the the end of the dining table? What have you found to be the hardest bits about running your home office? What one tip could you share with someone else to make their transition to working from a home office easier?
If you would like to know more about Lisa – you can connect with Lisa via Social Media in the following places:
Her website: http://www.avirtualpresence.co.uk