30 June 2016
Working from Home Productivity.
- 3 stories of freelancers that have chosen their personal productive way and don’t regret
Not so many years ago, being asked where you are going to work, you would probably name a company meaning the exact place like the cross of Floral and Bow. But it has all changed recently, you may be living in any country working for the same company with hundreds or thousands of others. “I’m working from home” – you say, and this can mean almost anything. People aren’t surprised to hear you are a freelancer. But even here you can choose your own pass: either travel, live abroad, share space at the co-working office, or stay at your lovely place.
The only question you should answer – which way brings my productivity to the upper level? Among all the stories, we’ve chosen three that may seem different, but the core is that these people have found their answer to this question.
1. To Co or Not to Co. A Look Into the Co-Working Life.
My career has followed an uncommon path. When I finished university I had the opportunity to go work for a Fortune 500 company or to join a small regional company. A fixed salary with benefits versus a commission only job with no guarantee of anything. To many the choice would have been easy, and it was for me, but not in the way you probably would expect.
From that moment forward I started down a more entrepreneurial path, one that ran counter to most of my friends and would define my working life. In the intervening sixteen years I continued to seek out roles that allowed me a degree of freedom both intellectually and physically.
For the past 9 months I have been running my own business. Consulting with and writing for clients all over the world (without leaving my current home of Singapore all too much). When I left my last job I was running a local team of over twenty and all decisions ran through me there was never a quiet moment. Today, it’s just me and the once or twice a week UberConference.
The first couple of weeks of this round of the solopreneur life, I worked from home. I was coming off a hellacious year and working from home was relaxing and low stress. I would get up, handle the morning routine, and then make myself a pour over of coffee, grab my laptop and head to the kitchen table (or plop down on the couch in front of Netflix). By 6:00pm when I had exhausted all the topics with my “office” co-habitants (the dogs) I bombarded my wife with conversation the second she walked in the door. Besides annoying the ever-loving life out of my wife I was not very productive. It was too distracting: the TV, the fridge, the dogs, my books…you name it and I was distracted by it.
After a few short weeks, something had to change. I already had a co-working space where I knew a few people and decided to give it a go. It’s a big space, 100 desks and usually around 70 or so people on any given day. It’s open concept and I have a shared desk (4 seats at one big table/desk). I’ve sat with programmers, magazine editors, lawyers, and people just trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.
Being surrounded by other small companies and startups provides a healthy amount of FOMO. That desire to keep up and achieve gets contagious like lice running through a six year old’s hair. It’s competitive in the healthiest of ways and reminds you of what’s possible. Aspects of other people’s approach to growth or their business model get absorbed like the stank of your neighbor’s fish noodle soup from two desks over (I do live in Asia after all).
The co-working space has also brought me business. Quite a bit. Multiple long-term clients and a handful of one off projects. Things that I never would have found sitting my kitchen table or a makeshift home office. Having people to bounce ideas off of, to seek cathartic companionship over client horror stories, and share in the successes.
The social aspect is both the blessing and curse. We do a monthly social with a cocktail cart, there’s amazing specialty coffee, $1 beers (which for Singapore is like free!), and periodic events. There are people to practice a pitch on. Service providers to help get your projects up and running. In short, there is community. A sense that you’re not alone and that there are other people out there hustling just like you.
All in all, my productivity at the co-working space is 3x that of my working from home. My happiness is 5x. My sales are 10x. My use of headphones is about 20x (it’s worthwhile investing in a solid pair of noise cancelers).
Get out of the house, find some community, and soak up the buzz that permeates a great co-working space.
Jeffrey Meese, from US, now living in Singapore.
2. How Working Abroad and Travelling Can Boost Productivity
Moving abroad to try out a new way of living is something that is now easier to do than ever before.
A few years ago I decided to make a big change in my life and go to South America to work. Working abroad can bring some incredible benefits in terms of finding a new way of enjoying work while seeing the world at the same time. However, one of the benefits that I hadn’t expected to discover when I left home was a dramatic increase in my productivity at work. So why did this happen?
A Change of Scenery
It has to be said that a simple change of scenery can work wonders for your productivity levels. In my case, I have to admit that I was feeling a bit jaded after working in the UK for so long.
My productivity had lowered over the years without me even realising, as I had lost some of my spark and creativity at work. Thankfully, when I moved abroad to continue my career I soon found that I was back to my old levels or even better, as I felt full of life and vitality once again.
Even if you think that you have lost your way and no longer work at the level you used to be at, it is entirely possible that a change of scenery could get you working better than before. You might feel a lot of extra benefits if you work in a creative field, as you open your mind to new ideas and experiences.
The Energy Boost from Travelling
Starting life in a new country also brings with it the incredible advantage of being able to travel to exciting new places all the time. When I first got here I realised that there were tempting new destinations around me in every direction. Travelling in the UK was always something that I enjoyed but I never seemed to get round to doing it often enough. Being on the other side of the world has definitely encouraged me to pack my bags and get away as often as I can.
Going for a short trip at the weekend is a fantastic way of recharging your batteries for the week ahead. When you live abroad the chance to see new places when you end your working week is something that is likely to be a real highlight for you, just as it is for me. This will leave you feeling refreshed and raring to go when it is time to get back to work again. Feeling full of energy is an amazing way to start the week wherever in the world you are and whatever you do for a living.
If you need to boost your productivity levels then combining work and travel could be exactly what you are looking for.
Robert Bell, fromthe UK, now living in Bolivia and travelling across South America.
3. Working from Home and Loving It!
I have nineteen years of project management experience, nine of them under a project manager title. I studied hard and achieved my PMP certification. I was getting plenty of attention from recruiters and companies and yet, I couldn’t find a project manager position.
I kept thinking about starting a business from home. This was my backup plan. I looked at all the experience and skills I had accumulated over the years to determine my options. I decided to pursue freelance writing focusing on business, technical and content writing.
I attribute my success to determination, tenacity and focus. I have an ongoing desire to learn. I am a planner who loves to plan out my goals. Once I know what I want to achieve, it’s easy for me to be productive. The drive and motivation appear and I’m on my way.
Improved My Productivity
I love working from home. Working as a freelance writer feeds my desire to continually learn. I used to commute three hours a day and now use that time to work out, run errands or anything else that I need to do. I have less interruptions so I can focus on getting my work done.
I’m free to schedule my time to best serve the needs of my customers and myself. I drive my schedule. Working from home has allowed me to do this.
Before I struggled trying to achieve a balance between my work and personal life. Besides getting a lot more done than if I was sitting in an office cubicle, I feel like I’m taking better care of myself. I use Toggl, a time tracker to track how I spend my time. I need to. It helps me to gauge if I’m working efficiently and how fast I can turn around my work.
What helps me complete my projects? I prepare a plan with my tasks, timeline and deadline. It helps me to maintain my productivity. I started to explore Kanbanchi, a task management and project management tool. I appreciate its task management features and the way it integrates with Google Calendar. It helps me to get my tasks done.
I have no regrets. I was ready to make a career change and becoming a freelance writer was the best path for me. I’m building my business and I’m on my way to achieving my dreams.
Anne Borsohalmi, living and working from her lovely home in Canada.
When you find a working style that is best for you, combine it with the right tools. This will help you achieve success in whatever your job is. Being a freelancer, your home productivity will have its highs and lows. Having the right skill set like time and task management is critical for your success. You may try to start with Kanbanchi right now to see if it suits you like Anne.