The only thing missing is a portable cactus
There are many benefits to having your own designated workspace. It gives a feeling of « home » to your desk, improving your well-being, and it helps compartmentalise the moments when you chose to work and not to work, which contributes to productivity and concentration levels, and creates some separation between work and play. For many people, such a divide is important for their general level of happiness and relaxation. It often tops the list of tips when you set up as a freelancer: have your own desk. Don’t work in bed, on the sofa, or next to the fridge.
But there are plenty of reasons why it might be hard to have your own designated work-room, or even work desk. Maybe you have to work on the kitchen table, which goes from being covered in spilt cheerios, to being your office, to being your ironing board, to being covered in spilt paint. Maybe you have a budget, floating, place in a coworking space. Maybe you are travelling, or you prefer to work outside of home, in cafés or public libraries.
Being on the go and having flexibility as to where you work is one of the greatest benefits of the freelance life, but to enjoy it fully, it is great to find a way to still feel like you have your own workspace.
This is possible, by making your own sort of portable pop-up desk. Here are the three steps you need to do it :
1) Marie Kondo your computer
Your computer is most likely the heart of your workspace, so it is important to treat it as though it were a physical place. If you need things to be tidy to feel concentrated, you need to apply the same logic to your computer. Put all your documents in one place, in files and subfiles. It is best to keep them all on the cloud so that you can easily change support. Just like people hang family photos or posters in their office, put a motivating image as your screensaver. You could even create a vision board, scan it in, and put it as your wallpaper.
Systematically scan or take photos of important documents, upload them onto your cloud and class them. That way, you will always have access to any random important document you might need. For the important documents, even if you aren’t adept at tidiness, it is good to at least have an umbrella file where you know you can find all the most important files you could need.
2) Gather the necessities
One of the best things about the modern age, because everything must have a silver lining, is that computers often mean the tools we need for working are reduced to the very minimum, so really, it is very possible to transport your workspace wherever you go. You won’t need to be rolling file cabinets around.
I’m a bit of a paper addict, so I like having, as well as a computer, a bullet journal, which is a sort of multi-functional notebook. It doesn’t have to be fancy — it can just be useful. I also chose to have a separate calendar. It’s A5 size, and stands up on its own. It helps to be able to see the whole year at one go, plus you can choose one with a design you like, or better yet, customise your own, to have another visual territory marker of your portable office. For pens and pencils, I recommend a rollout pencil case, like artists have, so that you can open it and have everything easily accessible.
Rather than just a pouch, find a laptop bag which can fit in everything you need, including notebooks/ calendar, and all electricals: chargers, harddrive, and possibly a battery pack, if you don’t know about accessibility to power points. That way all of the things you need are in one place.
3) Create your ritual
The real point of having your own workspace as a freelancer is to send a clear message to your brain that you are entering your work zone. When you use your computer both for fun and for work, it can be tempting to opt for the former, and just open up Netflix. Having a physical space to enter, where you know you don’t watch TV, but get to work, is useful, but not the only way to achieve this compartmentalisation. Creating a ritual around the setting up of your desk has the same effect. Get everything out and open. If you have room, each thing should have its own space. If not, lean your laptop bag somewhere accessible so you can easily reach anything you couldn’t lay out. Take a few seconds to enter the zone. This can be listening to a particular song, looking at your vision board or photograph, or having a little whiff of essential oil — sandalwood is my favourite, and it stimulates concentration.
Now take a few deep breaths. Imagine yourself stepping into your workspace. And you are ready to go.