I gave up the rat race five years and made the switch to freelance writing, and while the waters have been a little choppy from time to time I have never regretted the decision. Working from home can be a great blessing, especially when I listen to the traffic reports on the radio in the mornings. In fact, I deliberately listen to them every day just to remind me how tedious the commute used to be.
Aside from saving time and money getting to the office, working from home can also be good for productivity. Without the constant interruptions of well-intentioned colleagues, the comings and goings of general office life and the need to attend unnecessary meetings, I am able to produce a stronger and more plentiful body of work, and when you’re paid by the article this can prove more lucrative than you might have imagined.
However, it should be pointed out that remaining disciplined about the working day is a vital aspect of freelancing, so if you’re unable to commit to a strict, self-motivated schedule the chances are you will fail. Time management is the be all and end all of this game, and if it’s not your strong suit you need to work harder to make sure it is. Otherwise you will soon fall into a spiral of time-wasting and procrastination.
Choose the accompanying noises carefully!
For me personally, I don’t have the TV on in the background when I’m working. I find it far too distracting, so that’s a no-no from the start. I like to have a little music on, so the radio, my iPod or my Spotify playlist will usually help to get me through the day. There are times when I go a whole hour without even registering what songs have been playing, but it’s more a case of having sounds for company sometimes.
The best advice I was given when I went into freelancing was to make sure I have a proper desk to work at, rather than a convenient table that doubles up as a workspace. Sometimes I’ll do some writing on the laptop if I want to sit somewhere more comfortable, but most of my working day is spent at the desk, happily tapping away at the keyboard of my PC. I also have a tablet computer, but I use this for admin tasks rather than actual writing assignments.
I also think it’s important to take a break whenever I can. Staring at screens all day can drive you crazy, so I’ll often pop out to get a sandwich from the local deli. And if the sun is shining I might go over to the local golf course to practice for an hour or so. If I’m keeping to my time management schedule, I think it’s important to have a little reward every once in a while. After all, if I was tied to the desk all day every day I may as well go back to the rat race.
David Showell lives in the UK and is a very happy freelancer. He is planning to go on holiday to Orlando in coming months, but will be taking his laptop with him.