Writing is one of those professions that lends itself naturally to the idea of a home office. The internet allows us to keep in contact with clients, colleagues and other vital people but out work, by its very nature, is solitary. Yes, we collaborate with others, out heads bent over a shared sheet of paper or laptop as we brainstorm ideas, but when it comes to actually doing the writing we retreat to our own desks.
As a freelancer having my own home office is essential for many reasons.
It Helps Promote Work-Life Balance
Working from home is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, my commute is measured in seconds and I can set my own hours but I also find it hard to leave work behind. It’s tempting to flip open my laptop after dinner and dive right back in, or answer that email even though it is Saturday. Having a dedicated work space lets me set better boundaries for myself. When I am at my desk, in my office, I am working. When I am in the living room, kitchen or out with my partner or friends I am not working.
It Improves Organization
Before I had my own office I spent most of my day either on the couch with my laptop or at the kitchen table with my laptop. While both of these solutions technically worked it was a huge pain to have to pack everything up when that space was needed for other activities. By having my own office, and my own desk, I can keep my tools more organized. If I’m not done with a book I can leave it on my desk for later. I have all of my pens, post it notes and other office supplies within arms reach. I never have to stop what I am doing so I can hunt down the stapler.
I no longer have to lament running out of room in my pencil case, or having to clear my stuff off the kitchen table so we can have dinner. I can leave my reference books and my bits of scrap paper in situ and come back tomorrow.
It Let Me Upgrade My Equipment More Easily
I have a desktop and I love it. Iitse it’s big screen and its perfectly tilted keyboard. I love having a mouse. I love not having to worry about my battery levels, or dealing with a mess of cords. I love being able to have two windows open at once and not have to scroll left and right in order to read everything.
I still use my laptop occasionally. If I’m feeling housebound I will tuck it in my big brown leather satchel along with my work notebook, a few pens and a packet of sticky notes and make my way over to my local coffee shop. I love having that freedom, but most days I prefer to work at my desk. I love being able to have that choice, and being able to be flexible when it comes to where I want to work.
It Helps Me Take Better Breaks
Before I had my own office a “break” usually meant grabbing a cup of tea and returning to the couch to stare at non-work related things on the internet. I never felt like I could really get away. It reminded me of when I worked retail, back in high school and university. My breaks were often limited to 15 minutes, so straying too far from the store was impractical. So I hid in the back room, scarfing cold leftovers from a Tupperware and staring at my phone. Inevitably someone would need something from the back room, and then they would want to chat. Usually, about work, the very thing I was trying to take a break from.
I hated it.
Now if I want a break I can go sit on the balcony, or go read a book in the living room. I can go have a snack in the kitchen or go for a quick jaunt around the block. I can step out of my office and feel like I have actually managed to temporarily leave my work behind instead.
It Helps You Set Boundaries
When we are at work we are supposed to be working and when we are away from work we are supposed to be not working. Working from home, as previously mentioned, can blur the lines between work and not work. This goes for ourselves but also our roommates, spouses and other family members.
By having a dedicated works space it is easier to set boundaries. Something as simple as “When I am in this room I am at work, please avoid disturbing me” can do wonders for boosting your productivity and helping avoid interruptions.
It Can Boost Your Self Confidence and Creativity
It can be hard to consider yourself a professional when you spend most of your day on the couch in your PJs or scrounging for wifi at the nearest cafe. Do you need to set up a meeting with a potential client? Maybe a busy coffee shop or your kitchen table isn’t the best place for that if you can help it.
Having a dedicated workspace can do wonders for your self-esteem when it comes to working from home. It can make you feel like a real adult, with a real job, not a stay-at-home spouse with a hobby. And that can make a world of difference for how you view yourself and your work.
It Might Offer Tax Deductibles
Did you know some home office expenses are tax deductible? There are the obvious things, like your work computer and office supplies, but depending on where you live you may also be able to write off your physical office space. Say you live in a 1000 square foot apartment, 200 square feet of which is dedicated to your home office. That means you might be able to count one-fifth of your rent as a business expense. I’m not a tax expert though, so make sure you talk to your accountant about what items qualify before you submit your expenses with your taxes. We will go over the benefits of having a good accountant in a future post.
Having your own workspace is important for many reasons. It helps keep you on track, set boundaries, improve your self-confidence and boost your productivity. It can help you improve your work-life balance and finally step away from your work and take a real, actual break. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to do the trick.