Listen to the related podcast episode for this post.
As a freelancer it can be difficult to separate work and the rest of your life. Freelance work is commonly depicted as working at home from your couch, bed or kitchen table. However, for most people this is not the most productive or ideal situation. Being in a space that is utilized for other purposes can create unnecessary distractions. Your workspace should be just that: a space where you work and nothing else. Clearly delineating this area can improve both your work and personal life. So, what factors should you take into account?
When considering a freelance workspace I think of the three C’s: convenience, comfort and cost.
When it comes to freelance, you should have as few barriers as possible between you and your work. Therefore, you’ll want a workspace that is convenient for you to access. If your workspace is only available for a few hours or is far away then you will be less likely to get your work done. Think of the gym. If your gym was 30 minutes away and was only open for an hour would you go? The same can be said for your freelance work. Make sure your area is convenient whether it’s at home or a nearby co-working space.
Make sure you are comfortable in your space. One of the main benefits of choosing where you work is setting your own comfort level. You can control the aspects of your space, such as the temperature or the type of chair sit in. The freedom to go on walks when you’re sick of sitting down is part of this. If you are comfortable in your space you are more likely to be focused on your work. Just don’t get too comfortable, working in bed is a guarantee for me to fall asleep and not do any work!
As with almost anything cost is a big factor when considering your freelance space. This not have to mean renting an office or co-working space. Costs can include increasing your internet speed, buying a new monitor, the three cups of coffee and a pastry you buy while sitting at Starbucks. There are always costs involved so be sure to assess your costs and make sure they’re at an amount you are comfortable with.
What Are Your Options?
So, we’ve determined the factors that come into play when deciding on the workspace you want to create. Now let’s go over a few of the location options that are available.
Working from Home
This is of course the most common location for freelancers. It costs nothing in terms of additional rent and the commute is amazing! However, working from home involves an almost endless amount of distractions if not executed properly. Kids, housework, TV’s, food availability, the list goes on and on. The most important factor to consider for any of these spaces is to know yourself.
For me, I know my weaknesses at home: the TV, cleaning, playing with the dog. I can be a very bad procrastinator especially if the options are constantly in front of me. So, I need to minimize this weakness. I created a home office in its own room of the house. If I had the option of moving it outside of my house in a guest house or room over a garage I would ideally take that route. But for me this is not an option, so I created my own space with the resources I have.
I made sure not to put a TV in this room and I minimized the amount of distractions. My office has a plain Ikea desk with as much free space on it as I can get. I only have a monitor, laptop, podcast microphone setup and a few toys to fidget with. My desk is against a wall to remove any visible distractions in the room, which I try to keep to a minimum anyway.
This is how I work the best, with minimal distractions to reduce my procrastination. Of course, your space may be different. Perhaps you work best with a TV playing for some background white noise. Again, know what creates an optimal workspace for you and what doesn’t. Eliminate distractions and create a separate space to work. These are the keys to a successful home office.
A Coffee Shop or Other Public Place
An obvious next step from the house is to go to a public place with free wifi, typically a coffee shop. These can be great to get that dose of a social aspect without being in a space where you see the same people every day (most of the time). This also creates a further separation between work life and personal life.
A coffee shop also does not have to be an everyday workspace. Maybe you go a couple days a week just to get a fresh perspective that differs from your home office. Working alongside other people without the obligation of interacting can provide a needed boost of productivity on those difficult days. Not being inside your house provides a refreshing change of scenery.
Co-working spaces are a great option for freelancers. They give you the benefits of an office space with a lower price tag. They are usually set up as multiple small sized office rooms that companies or freelancers can rent out. The terms can be like a lease either annual or month to month so they are a bigger investment. But you’ll be able to take the space and make it your own.
Co-working spaces come equipped with everything you’ll need to start working: desks, chairs, an internet connection and more. A lot of these spaces come with added amenities as well. They can have shared conference rooms that you can utilize for client meetings. Or a shared kitchen space to give that real office feel. Plus, it can be great to interact and network with the other freelancers, startups, and small businesses that are also renting in this space.
(For anyone in near me I recommend the Charleston Digital Corridor)
Short-Term Office Rental
These are a version of a co-working space. Short-term office rentals are typically found in bigger cities but you are starting to see them crop up all around the world. Essentially, you rent the space for a short amount of time, a couple days or even a couple of hours. They can be a great substitution for a coffee shop if you find them to be too noisy. Do a local search for short-term office rentals to see if there are any near you or check out a service like Regus.
There are many places and ways to create a solid freelancing workspace. Remember to define your needs for convenience, comfort and cost. These are different for everyone. The most important part is to determine how you work the best. Decide if you need a more public or private space, or somewhere in between. Then setup your workspace in a way that produces the best work results for you. Maybe you need 100 action figures and knick-knacks around because it helps improve creativity. Perhaps you’re like me and you need to a have minimalist space to eliminate distractions. Find what puts you in that creative mindset and helps you be the most productive that you can be.