A common question I get when it comes to freelance work is where I get my work done. Essentially, people just want to know what my work spaces looks like. Most people who are traditionally employed go to work every day to a certain place and work for a set, predictable number of hours. But when it comes to freelancing, people are either impressed, overwhelmed, or intrigued by the idea of my freedom to create my own space.
People want to know how I do it. Other times, they ask about my work space as a request for advice. My number one piece of advice for aspiring freelancers when it comes to setting up a work space is to do what feels right to you. I’m serious! Not everyone needs a fancy home office, just like not everyone wants to work in a crowded coffee shop. If you’re comfortable working on your bed with a laptop propped up on a pillow, go for it. If you like to be outdoors and prefer a park over anything else, that works too. The most important thing to consider is what makes you feel creatively engaged with the material you’re working on. The real secret is to identify what physical elements around you make you feel the most productive.
Everyone has a different work style, much like learning styles. Some people learn better when they can read the material with their eyes, others when they can learn with other people to talk out the material. Some people, like me, learn the best when they are moving, jumping, engaging with material in a kinetic way. By finding ways to incorporate your learning style into your work space, you’ll feed more productive, successful, and satisfied by the work you do. For that reason, I think determining a proper work space should be rooted in what style of learning and working resonate with you.
For example, my work space at home is neat, clean, and obsessively in order. But it’s also sometimes covered with my son’s toys, brochures or full-size posters that a client sent for inspiration, or even stocked with snacks for the afternoon. The point is that my style is flexible, just like my learning style. I can go with the flow on any given day by working in a park, the local library, or at home with a desk perfectly in order by color-coded client flies or covered in toys. Fun fact: I produce my best work when I have music playing in the background!
Other people need to go to a place with the visual cues that signal work time. That could mean returning to the same closed-door office with a tidy desktop that you work at every day. Some people thrive in the ritualism there and benefit from the mental habit of coming to work. Perhaps you are a person who learns and works better with interaction with people and more background noise. You should consider seeking out a co-working situation sharing an office with other freelancers. This allows you to acknowledge your need for a social experience at work while still retaining the independence you enjoy as a freelancer.
Bottom line, only you know what your freelance workspace should look like. Try a few different options and see what feels right for you. Embracing a freelance lifestyle is more than just creating your own paycheck. It’s also about creating an environment that allows you to produce your best work.