Ten years ago, if you told someone you were a freelancer, they probably assumed that meant “unemployed.” But today, thanks to the internet and the movement by millennials to balance work and home life, the gig economy is booming. If you’ve recently decided to 86 your nine-to-five job, you’re in for a whole new world of personal freedom -- but it doesn’t come without some preparation. Keep reading for the top five tips on setting up your home office.
Stick with Natural Light
You’ve no doubt heard of the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural clock that tells you when it’s time to wake and time to sleep. It’s largely dictated by your exposure to natural light. Studies have shown that regular exposure to daylight can keep this rhythm in check and boost your productivity. Before you plop down a desk, make sure your home office is in close proximity to a window.
Invest in High-Speed Internet
If you plan to work from home, you’re going to be online. Make sure your connection is healthy enough to handle your work activities. Contact your provider and let them know how many devices will be connected to your internet and what you’ll be using it for. You may need to upgrade to a premium service. Not only will slow internet frustrate you, but it can cost you precious minutes each day. While this may not sound like a lot, consider that lagging speeds can shave an entire week off your working hours in a single year.
Stick with an Ergonomic Design and Functional Furniture
Your workspace will likely also include a desk and chair. It’s best to purchase these items together to ensure they will allow you to follow best ergonomic practices. Fast Company explains this means your arms are parallel to the floor when you type and that your eyes should look straight ahead toward the top of your computer screen. Pick a chair that’s comfortable – this is one piece of furniture that’s worth a splurge. If you don’t want to sit all day, a standing desk is a great option.
Set Up Your Equipment
No matter which type of service you provide, you will need office equipment. This may include a desktop computer, laptop, printer, scanner, fax machine, or speciality products like a drawing board or image creation software.
Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Having the power to create your own office environment based on your personal preferences can make you leaps and bounds more productive. However, being at home also means having access to things like laundry, children, and TV. Keep distractions to a minimum by completely separating your office from your living space. Natural HR offers more information on home office distractions and how to avoid them.
Once your home office is ready to go, there is still work to be done. You may need to obtain a business license and take some time to secure an online presence. Set up your social media accounts and create a website that tells your customers what you and your business are about.
Separate Your Work Stuff From Your Personal
As you begin to make money, you’ll need to spend it wisely in order to best build your business without breaking the bank. Keep your work and personal accounts separate and hold on to all of your receipts, you’ll need them at tax time. QuickBooks explains that as a freelance worker, you can deduct many of your home office expenses and supplies -- even your mortgage interest may be deductible. Research business credit cards and choose one that aligns with your professional goals. For instance, if you’ll travel often, select a card that helps you earn miles and/or free hotel stays.
No matter where you set up your office, your business should be treated as such and not an extension of your home life. Be mindful of both advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Create a functional workspace and keep your financial transactions separate. It takes some getting used to, but you will eventually get comfortable in your new position as the CEO of your self-employment dream. Welcome to the gig economy!
Images by Pixabay
A guest post by Julie Morris, Life and Career Coach at Juliemorris.org
Updated on 18. October 2021
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