Working from home can be a real artform. People who work in offices everyday often think that there can be no greater thing than avoiding the daily commute, having a lie in and slouching round the house all day, but the reality can be very different. If you are not set up properly to work from home then you can quickly fall into bad routines, discipline falls by the wayside, motivation drops, you can experience totally unproductive days and your mental health could be left in tatters.
If you get it right however, the benefits of working from home are numerous. You save time due to not having to commute, office distractions are non-existent (not to mention the ever-so-tempting endless supply of office biscuits) and you get to plan your workday around your own schedule.
There is a reason why big companies like Google and Apple spend fortunes on fancy offices with high-tech equipment, relaxing break-out areas and all the mod cons. They know that the environment makes a huge difference to the productivity of its workforce. If you are a freelancer, independent worker, digital nomad or a remote worker then you should think no differently. Set yourself up with a space, ensure the tools are in place and watch your productivity soar.
Here at Xolo, we've put together a list of the top tools that every freelancer, independent worker, digital nomad or remote worker needs to stay at the top of their game. We’ve already covered the best free services out there, but today’s list includes both hardware and software, all of which are essential to ensure that your #FreelanceLife remains healthy and industrious.
With new digital nomads and freelancers becoming increasingly common (forward-thinking countries are even putting legislation in place to support them), they are steadily turning into integral parts of the world economy. Keep yourself ahead of the curve by positioning yourself as a professional and efficient worker – a well-designed workspace will pay dividends in the future. So, without further ado, here we go:
When you’re a social media marketeer, translator, web designer or any other specialist freelance worker or entrepreneur, your computer system will become your life. Set your business up properly at the beginning by investing in the best hardware you can.
Having a laptop rather than a desktop will mean it also becomes your digital companion. You’ll be able to travel round more and won’t be stuck in one spot. Travelling between meetings and got an hour to kill? No problem! Your car can become your office when you have your laptop in tow!
Years ago, you’d have to either be an IT whizz yourself or have a family member or friend proficient in this area in order to have a good IT system. These days it’s as easy as a few clicks of your mouse as you can download the software you need. Things like Microsoft Office 365 are essential so try not to skimp on the software you’ll be using every day – it’ll only lead to headaches down the line.
As we’ve said, lounging on the sofa seems like a great way to spend the day but you’ll soon find that your back is aching, your shoulders are hunched, and you look like you’ve aged dramatically.
A good chair at a good desk means good posture and therefore good productivity. Enough said! Treat yourself to a nice chair, your body will thank you for it!
There’s nothing more embarrassing than when you’re on the phone and a client asks if you can take on more work, attend an event or adhere to a new deadline, than scrabbling around to bring up your digital, and very complicated, diary.
An old-fashioned and simple monthly calendar pinned on the wall next to your desk will save a lot of hassle. Keep it updated with your big projects, holidays (yes freelancers can occasionally have them!) and deadlines to give you an easy overview of your coming weeks at a glance.
Having stacks of paper, client assets, industry magazines and invoices floating around your house can easily make you feel overwhelmed and underprepared. Get a filing system so you’re not scrabbling around trying to find all your things every day.
Keep it neat, keep your workspace tidy and organised – as if your ‘boss’ could walk in at any minute. You’ll find you are more productive and more efficient as a result.
A tidy digital space is just as important as a physical one for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Investing in a comprehensive filing system and sharing tool like Google Drive will mean that you can access your documents from anywhere in the world and you can easily collaborate with other freelancers and clients on big projects. It’ll mean that you can share word formatted documents, images, videos, Excel spreadsheets, and even PowerPoint presentations all from one convenient location.
At the end of the day, you never know when the urge to become a digital nomad might strike you so make sure your online systems can follow you wherever you go!
Talking of collaborating with others, if you do find yourself working closely with other digital professionals, independents and remote workers, then communication systems like Slack can be a real godsend.
Slack in particular is a great way to ensure that you and your team are all on the same page, can work together seamlessly and are able to reach each other easily. This is through tools like voice and video calls, app integrations, file sharing and team chats.
Being a freelancer means so much more than just focusing on your area of expertise. Being an entrepreneur means that you all of a sudden need to be your own lawyer, accountant, marketing team as well as providing your clients with an expert service.
Reduce the admin burden on your business by signing up with a company like Xolo which can provide professional and vital invoice and business support functions, and even a company bank account. Don’t waste your time stressing over the paperwork, free up your time for business generating tasks instead!
We’re ending this list on a simple yet incredibly important tool – WiFi. Without good wifi your remote business simply won’t be able to keep up with the competition, your online business calls will stammer, and everything will take more time than necessary. Find the best wifi provider in your area and get the installation team out to your house pronto!
So there we have it, no one said that building a freelance life would be easy, but with these tools you’ll be set up for success, you’ll be more productive and you’ll be able to ‘down-tools’ at the end of each day satisfied in a hard day’s work.
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