Empowering the Freelance Economy

Guilty of these “unproductive” work from home habits?

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Having a separately designated, functional office space is vital to your success if you are working from home, according to Adriana Lopez, of US software and home moving and maintenance services company, Porch. She also says our daily habits can have a negative impact on our productivity and eat into our valuable “me time”. Check out her tips to boost your productivity when working from home. Some habits may be hard to break, for some freelancers though.

Before you design your work from home space, there are lots of things to consider, including choosing the right furniture and technology as well as staying organised to maximise productivity. This isn’t always easy for people that flatshare, so you have to be creative in creating an office space even if it is in your bedroom or a corner of a hall.

“With the right tips and tools, anyone can enjoy a beautiful, functional home office space,” says Adriana Lopez of Porch. “Once you’ve created your new home office, be sure to include a few tweaks that will increase your productivity levels and give it a fresh, new look.”

But, how many of us freelancers are guilty of some rather cheeky WFH habits? For example, have the delivery people and postman seen you more times in your pyjamas than not? Do you eat breakfast and lunch at your desk while working? Do you juggle a laptop on your lap in bed? That’s probably guilty as charged for many of us freelancers who do not have a daily commute to an office. We may not do these cheeky habits every day, but in our minds, we are likely thinking that since we are working earlier and holding off getting changed into normal clothes we can get in an extra hour working. We feel we are being productive, right? Well, it could be affecting us without realising it, according to Lopez.

Improve productivity – What to avoid

If you want to stay productive, there are also some things you should avoid, says Lopez, including:

  • When possible, avoid putting your desk in your bedroom. This can make it difficult to separate life from work and interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Avoid neglecting to make a morning routine, and always make sure you get up, shower, and get dressed every morning to help you stay motivated.
  • Don’t work in your pajamas. Instead, get dressed as you normally would or at least put on regular clothing after you shower.
  • Try not to eat your breakfast and lunch at your desk. Taking breaks in another room or outside will help reset your mind and give you a mental break between tasks.
  • Don’t neglect to have some healthy snacks on hand to keep you energised. Keep a water bottle with a lid near you to prevent spills on your computer keyboard, and drink water throughout the day.
  • Avoid listening to music that distracts you and listen to calming music that will boost your mood instead.
  • Putting distractions around you will make you lose focus. You can keep things like a stress ball or your Zen sand garden near you, but never directly in front of you while you’re working.
  • Do not forget to set up a routine when working from home. Find your own pace, whether it’s checking your email or tackling big projects first.

Organise and declutter

A cluttered, disorganised office can cause stress and reduce focus. Keep these tips in mind to help you stay organised and productive, says Lopez.

  • Go minimalist: Consider adopting a minimalist style in your office. This will prevent clutter from building up in the first place, and you’ll only have the things you really need around you.
  • Tidy up your cables: Corral unruly cables using cable ties or special devices that keep them contained. This is particularly important if you have pets or younger children as it can be a trip hazard and cause a risk of electrical shock.
  • Add a book nook or shelves: Keep your books and work-related paperwork organized with a cute book nook in one corner. Add a bookcase or some shelving to keep everything orderly and in its place.
  • Custom cabinets: If you deal with many office accessories, add some custom cabinets for a perfect fit. They can hold your items neatly while keeping everything hidden and looking attractive.
  • Create a file system: Important work documents should be filed away in the proper order. If you deal with confidential information, make sure you purchase a locking file cabinet to keep everything secure. The Freelance Informer suggests you never share personal information, such as addresses or banking information on a Google document as this may not be secure. That includes you rinformation and those of others, such as invoices.
  • Make space: Declutter your office and be sure you have plenty of space to move around. The right flow will make the office feel cleaner, and it will help your mind stay open and relaxed as you work.

Your office decor is everything

The right office décor will boost your mood and make the space feel personal to you, so try these tips to put your own stamp on it.

  • Select the right colours: Color affects our mood and can impact productivity. Choose wall and floor colors that will make you feel relaxed without feeling sleepy. Blues and greens are productive colors that can calm the mind while encouraging healthy focus.
  • Add scent to the air: Essential oils or scented candles will create a pleasant fragrance while you work. Smells like lavender and citrus are known to help improve things like focus and concentration.
  • Area rugs: A nice, soft area rug will make your home office feel cozy and inviting. Choose a rug in a muted pattern or solid color, so it’s not too distracting.
  • Bean bag: Add a comfy bean bag chair to your office, so you have a place to chill out whenever you take breaks or want to relax.
  • Curtains or blinds: Make sure you have the right window coverings to prevent glare and give you privacy. Mini blinds are affordable and easy to adjust, while curtains will add a nice look to the office.
  • Wall décor: Bring personality to your office with wall decorations like artwork, a lovely mirror, or some family photos in nice frames. A corkboard or whiteboard is perfect for helping you take notes or simply to keep track of an old-fashioned to-do list.
  • Plants: Beautiful plants add greenery and freshness to an office. The power of being surrounded by nature has incredible impacts on boosting productivity and lowering stress levels.
  • Add a “Zen sand garden”: These unique accessories are fun to use and can help you relax whenever you’re feeling stressed. A little Zen sand garden can also encourage you to rethink things and foster creativity.

Kids? Pets? Give them their own small space

If you have kids or pets, be sure to give them a little spot in your office, too.

A place for kids: Give your younger children an area in the office where they can colour, work on homework, or simply spend some time with you.

A spot for pets: Add a few toys for your cat or dog and a nice, comfy bed somewhere in the room so they can keep you company during the day. 

“When you work from home, it’s your chance to design an office that’s all yours,” says Lopez. “Keep these tips in mind when choosing the right furniture and technology, but most importantly, do whatever works best for you.”

And if you feel you need a change of scenery from your home office, you can always work remotely a day or two each week by signing up to workspace services, such as Othership.

👉🏼Check out these stories for more home office tips

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