with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
You know that whole thing where the only way to get work is to have already worked, sometimes, and you start feeling very chicken-and-egg-ish about reaching your goals? I remember when I started out that I spent a lot of time being annoyed that I couldn’t get the experience everyone wanted without them, you know, giving me a chance to get the experience.
I also know that a similar conundrum can apply to setting up your home office, because until you’re making regular money, it can feel ridiculous and/or decadent to spend money on your workspace. But you really can’t work to your full potential without the right tools, so then you need to figure out the balance between what you need and what you just want.
I’m digging this post by Skellie at Freelance Switch that details twelve items you can buy for your home office guilt-free. Most of the commenters seem to have really latched on to the idea of a big monitor or two, and I’m not going to disagree, although I think the importance of that particular item really depends on your work style.
More important, in my opinion, are the items that make your space more ergonomic: A good chair, a comfortable desk, a wrist rest if you need one, etc. Skellie’s suggestions of a filing cabinet and thumb drive for data management issues are also no-brainers; clearly these are items you will need to organize your business.
I also have to give a big thumbs-up to number 12 on the list, which suggests that a special treat such as chocolate can be a powerful motivation. I’m not sure I’m willing to call it an office supply, per se, but I can get behind the idea, absolutely.
There’s a few things I’d like to add to the list, of course, because when have you known me to be shy with my opinion? Oh, that’s right—never. So here you go, because I am all about the sharing:
13. Accounting software. For the love of all that is holy, please learn from my mistakes and buy yourself software to track your accounting now and don’t wait until you realize you have completely lost control of your books. You will thank me later. I promise.
14. A dedicated business phone line. For most freelancers, this will simply mean having a reliable cell phone. For some (depends on what sort of work you do, how good the cell reception is at your house, and how much clients will be calling you) it will mean having a cell phone and/or having Skype and/or having a second land line. You have to figure out what makes sense for you, but do not assume one house phone is going to do the job unless you never need to call clients.
15. Nice business cards. Hire someone to design them for you, too, if need be. Order them and carry them with you everywhere, and then give them out as often as possible. Resist the temptation to get cheap ones or print them yourself. If you need to picture me laughing at your crappy-ass cards in order to do so, feel free. I don’t mind.
16. At least one expensive interview outfit. I know you have clothes you can wear to an interview. Of course you do. But you need to have one outfit that says you have money, rather than an outfit that says you really need this job badly because right now your clothes all come from Target. (Hey, I love Target, too, but there’s a time and a place for bargain clothing, and interviews aren’t it.) I suppose this isn’t technically an office item, but there you have it, anyway.
What else would you add?
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