Preparing your work station

Preparing your work station

Image: by ThoroughlyReviewed.

One of the many joys of freelancing is being able to work from any suitable remote location, obviously dependant upon your type of work. This means that you can completing your invoices from you laptop in bed while still in your pyjamas, writing articles from your favourite coffee shop, or you can be responding to your emails while enjoying the sunshine from your balcony. While this is fantastic, the majority of freelance work is done from a computer, and it is important to have a tailor prepared workstation for you to claim as productive space. Here are some things worth considering when you are setting up your workstation.

Firstly, do you require a desk? If you are going to be on your computer for elongated periods every day, it probably pays to ensure that you are professionally set up for your own comfort and health, which entails that you have a high quality chair as well that can support your back and posture for longer periods of time. If you are using a desk, is it big enough for everything you need? Will you be taking lots of notes and require extra space for this?

The next point to look at is location. Many people find it helps them to have a seperate work space from a living space so that the two different sectors of their lives don't blend together, but other's don't have so many problems with this. Is a home office essential to your needs, or will a simple desk in your bedroom suffice? Do you require a phone outlet within reach or will you be using your mobile instead? Is there enough light to be able to work without straining your eyes? Is there too much that you can't see the computer screen properly? Would you prefer to set your computer by a window to let in as much natural light to your working space as possible, or will the neighbours provide too much distracting entertainment from the apartment across the street?

Talking of distractions, what else exists in your work space that could take you away from your productivity? One of the benefits of having a dedicated home office is that you are less likely to fill a home office with things that can distract you, as opposed to working in a bedroom for example which is much more likely to have televisions, musical instruments, interesting novels and any number of alternative uses of your time looming over your subconscious as you try to push through as much work as possible. Be aware of this and try to minimise this when setting up your workspace, as otherwise you run the risk of procrastinating your responsibilities and having to cram before deadlines which can effect your productivity and, most of all, your quality often diminishes under increased stressed.

Other things to consider are your environment. Are you able to open a window to let in some fresh air? Are you able to control the climate to a comfortable level so that it doesn't distract your concentration? Does it help you to have a plant in the room to make it feel more pleasant to stay in there? If you are taking Skype or video calls, is there anything on the wall or in the room that could be considered unprofessional or inappropriate that your clients might accidentally see?

It is very important to tailor make your working space to all of your personal and business needs, and careful consideration of all of these elements will ensure that you can maximise productivity, maintain a good flow of work, and to work without distraction or discomfort. One last thing to consider, somewhat contradictory to the rest of this article, is that you shouldn't overthink all of this and you should just do what feels natural. If you worry too much about this, you might find that optimising your workstation becomes an obsession and in fact a distraction from your work itself, even if all done with good intention. If, after some time, you need to change, of course sometimes it pays to simply move your desk a few metres for a slightly different atmosphere and view, but don't allow this to cloud your mind and steal you from your work.

Overcoming common problems

Overcoming common problems

Freelancing often feels like a dream come true - you can be working in a field that is interesting and engaging to you from a desirable location on a schedule that you planned yourself, but it's not an easy way to earn an income. There are lots of bumps in the road between you and your pay check, but a lot of these are easily solved or avoided.

Technological problems

- A computer is often very central to freelance work, and is probably one of the most, if not the most expensive piece of equipment a freelancer requires to successfully complete a piece of work. When a computer is experiencing problems, it is frustrating enough, but when you are paid by the project and you are unable to make any progress, it is absolutely infuriating. Always make sure you have all of the contact details of the support team in charge of looking after technical problems in line with the make of your computer, for example, knowing the number for Apple Support for when your Macbook won't turn on. If you can solve technical problems yourself, it's great, but if not then you should know who you can contact who will be able to help you. Sometimes, it's also a good idea to have a backup plan, for example a second computer of a friend or relative you know you can borrow to finish off any projects close to a deadline when yours just won't co-operate. It might also pay off to know of another place you can connect to wireless internet on days when they might be doing maintenance to yours, or on days when yours isn't working to it's usual capacity, but the joy of working remotely is that this can be anywhere.

Finding work

- Even after you have established yourself as a freelancer, there will probably be months where the work flow is a little dry and you struggle to find new projects to apply yourself to. The best way to maintain a steady workflow is by having clients who request repeat work from you, but when this isn't enough there are plenty of websites that connect freelancers to clients that might be able to help you score a one-off project to fill the void where your regular clients aren't requiring so much of your services. It is also a good idea to have some money saved to fall back onto for months where work is a little harder to find.

Getting paid

- Sometimes clients are very reluctant to part ways with their cash, and this can create a lot of tension between you and them and an overall bad working relationship. Some freelancers like to request half of the payment before they start work and get paid the rest afterwards. Be clear with your clients when you can expect your work to be completed and how much you expect to be paid and by when before you start the project, and maintaining a good connection and rapport with them will help you to build up a trustworthy working relationship. If people fail to pay, if you are working through a freelance website, often they will help to be able to settle the debate, and if not, you may have to review your contract that you set up with the client and even approach a debt collection agency to assist you in getting your funds.

Meeting deadlines

- Every client will believe that their project is your top priority when in priority you could be juggling any number of projects, and balancing these expectations can be very difficult. Make sure to keep your work varied and interesting to you, and to set realistic deadlines that still push you to work and to stay ahead of your competition. Aim to completely your work before it is actually due to ensure there is a little extra time for when things do go wrong, and be sure to structure your time off around the fact that you do actually have to be productive in order to be able to survive. Something will always pop up to delay the finish line, but if you plan for this to happen, it will be much less of a problem.