Home advantage to the freelance

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m defrosting the freezer. This, by and large, is not what you would call freelance journalism. But I suspect there’s an army of home-workers out there vacuuming the lounge or watching Flog It! on BBC Two.

Making the switch from a busy office to an improvised desk space at home has been something of a culture shock. Mostly, it’s incredibly liberating. I can get from bed to desk in seconds, there’s no dress code, and no interminable meetings or office politics.

But it can sometimes feel like a journalism Alcatraz, with no colleague banter, newsroom buzz or occasional cheeky lunchtime pint. It’s no wonder, then, that the plentiful opportunities to be sidetracked are so tempting.

The key is to relish the distractions – they’re healthy in moderation, and present wherever you work. A quick spot of washing-up can be a screen break, and given the time you’re saving by not commuting, the chances are you’re as productive at home as anywhere else.

But if you fear procrastination taking over, take a fee for a piece of work you’ve recently finished, estimate how many hours you spent on it (including distraction time) and calculate your real hourly wage. Are you happy with it?

The classic solution of the separate office is lovely on paper: a spare room, with a work computer, a work phone line and a lockable door. At the end of the day you close the door and don’t open it again until the next day.

Or, if working from home isn’t for you, but you still want to freelance, look in Friday Ad or on Gumtree.com for desk space in a shared office.

But both these options ignore the reason why so many go freelance: the ability to work on your own terms. And if that means taking the laptop to the park one afternoon, or having a lie-in after a long night’s work, so be it. Draw the line at working in the room you sleep in, though. It’s not healthy.

Keep work calls separate by setting up an 0870 number that you can redirect to your landline at certain times and voicemail at all other times. If you receive a lot of work by post, you can set up a PO Box number for £60 a year.

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