Just like with any other career path, there are times when, as a freelancer, you’ve probably had to take a step back and reevaluate your work ethic. Some projects will inevitably be more interesting than others. However, if you’ve found that your productivity has steadily declined no matter the work, sometimes cleaning, organizing, and decorating your workspace can do wonders for jumpstarting your freelancing motivation.
Even if you’re a freelancer who regularly works outside, chances are you still have a desk that serves as a control center of sorts. It doesn’t matter whether you have a standard office desk, or a deluxe L-shaped desk with plenty of drawers, you’re probably dealing with dust and clutter:
- Put everything that’s not electronic or breakable into a large trash bag (contractor-grade, if possible).
- Get yourself either a duster (I like to use Swiffer ones because they don’t kick the dust around more), a wet paper towel, or even sanitizing wipes, and thoroughly clean all desk surfaces, corners – everything! This is truly all about starting with a clean slate.
- Go back to that trash bag. Take each item out, one by one, placing it into either a “Keep” or “Don’t Keep” pile.
- Once all the items have been sorted into those two piles, recycle what you can from the “Don’t Keep” pile, and start further sorting all the items from your “Keep” pile.
- More specifically, organize the “Keep” pile item by type. Have a lot of Post-it notes? Make a pile for that. Have lots of general desk items like paper clips, a stapler, pens, markers? Get a large mug for the pens and markers, and put everything else methodically into drawers.
You’ll find that you’ll develop your own system as you go along. Remember, though, to put things in places where you can easily find them again!
With your desk all set, it’s time to turn your attention to your computer or laptop:
- It’s easy, especially when multitasking, to let emails go unnoticed, or just left there, already read (and hopefully answered), in the inbox. This can be a huge problem for your productivity, so it’s time, yet again, to sort things!
- Email clients are more efficient than ever when it comes to organizing things into folders. Take some time to, one by one, go through the emails you’ve not dealt with and either delete them, or label them by client or topic and promptly archive them. A happy email inbox is an empty/properly sorted email inbox!
- Email aside, if you find that you’ve got a lot of files that are just sort of existing on your desktop, evaluate if you still need them, and delete accordingly. Other, more important files should be placed in folders, and backed up via USB drives or some sort of cloud storage platform.
Lastly, it’s time to arrange your workspace in a way that inspires you to keep focused:
- Never underestimate the power of shelves – yes, they’re great for displaying pictures and general artsy items; simultaneously, though, they’re so necessary for keeping things like folders and books in view.
- Although you might depend on your phone’s calendar app, having an actual calendar on, or near your desk will serve as a great reminder of what needs to be done when.
- If you want something to write ideas, etc. on that will not only be noticeable, but will also generate less clutter than Post-It notes, consider getting yourself a whiteboard.
- Lighting can make or break your productivity. Too much light can be distracting, while too little light can induce a nap. Whether it’s natural lighting through a picturesque window, in-ceiling lights, or even a charming floor lamp, make sure your workspace is moderately illuminated throughout your work day.
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