My Freelance Writer Life: How I Get Work Done From Home (and You Can Too!)
Not everyone is the self-motivated type who can get work done without an employer and a set work schedule. But if you want to give it a try, I’m happy to share some things that I’ve learned along the way after being a freelance writer for nearly ten years.
Some things came to the fore during the pandemic. The short version is that my wife and I have not been able to return to our apartment in Italy for over a year (I’ll spare you the details). While both of us working from home in a large apartment with separate offices, desks, and comfy work chairs is no big deal – it’s been a little trickier since we are sharing one room with zero chairs, desks, or multi-monitor desktop workstations.
Here are three big things I’ve learned about being productive while working at home in challenging circumstances.
#1 You Need to Have a Defined Workspace/Desk
How are we doing that in one room with no desks? I’m using a popup lap desk with a laptop stand. It’s incredible how swapping out the pillow you sleep on for an oversized pillow to lean up against changes your bed in a chair. The lap desk creates the workspace. The stand puts the monitor at eye level to save my back and neck (without raising the keyboard so much I have to worry about my wrists).
After breakfast, I consider swapping out my sleeping pillow for my workspace as my morning commute, and it helps me set apart the workday – which brings me to my next point.
I consider swapping out my sleeping pillow for my workspace as my morning commute, and it helps me set apart the workday
#2 Stick to a Defined Work Schedule (and Tell People You’re at Work)
Once the workspace setup is completed, I’m at work until I break it all down at the end of my work period. I don’t take personal calls unless they are an emergency call that I would take at an office. I respond to texts by saying, “I’m at work.” By having set workdays and times, I find that I am far more productive.
One of the most challenging things for freelancers to overcome is that family and friends often think you are always available because you are home instead of at an office. But if you let those distractions in, you will find yourself working seven days a week and barely accomplishing five days’ worth of work.
#3 Headphones and a Paid Music Subscription Service Work Wonders
We each have a set of noise-canceling headphones, and I use a premium Spotify subscription (random ads would defeat the purpose). These are crucial elements to creating the right headspace for writing and proofreading, especially since my wife is a tutor. So she is talking out loud about five feet away from me.
It’s tough for me to write about legal matters, hotel supplies, digital marketing, or whatever other topic is on tap for the day while my wife is talking about the physics of sound. So I search through Mood and Focus playlists and isolate ones that have few or (preferably) no songs with lyrics. This helps me to focus on the words I am writing.
With these three simple steps, my wife and I have managed to turn one room into two offices without having any desks. Imagine what you can do if you have an entire room to dedicate as a home office!