I now have the ideal, blissful and fortunate opportunity to freelance from my home office. I quit full-time life in interactive design (within advertising=burnout) in the Spring to freelance and build a new design studio company. I have always believed that environment is everything. It has everything to do with your mood, productivity and state of mind toward your work. To that end, ever since we moved into our home 2 years ago, I've been setting up my ideal office up in our loft space.
I wanted to keep things pretty clean and white with just small accents of color to allow the work on the walls (and screen) be the focus. My office was completely inspired by the mid-century palettes exemplified by the George Nelson Swag Desk:
So, my first rule of thumb is: Love where you work. Set up a space where you really want to be. I mean this both in terms of the physical office space and your workplace. Honestly, we spend at least 10 hours of our days working and to be miserable in that is just uncalled for. We really owe it to ourselves to be happy in what we pursue in life. So, either create an exit plan (right now), or, if you like your job, simply make your workstation more of a place you want to be 10 hours a day. Personally, I can't wait to get up to my office everyday:
— tip: Head to your local farmer's market during lunch and pick up some fresh flowers. Sunflowers are beautiful and inexpensive.
— tip: if you don't work from home, office coffee usually, well, sucks. And trips to Starbucks can really add up. Bring your own coffee & nifty French press by Bodum and serve in these cheery design-nerd mugs from Pantone:
Second rule of thumb is: Be Organized. It will save you time, heartache AND money.
Luckily, organization and neatness is an obsession of mine, but for those less inclined, these tips and products may help. You've heard this before, but "everything in its place". Very simply, if there is a place for everything, being organized isn't as tough. It's about having systems in place, whether it be storage, or a way to get things done, such as with the offline and online versions of Behance's Action Method:
There are some really excellent time tracker apps for the Mac that act as stop watches that can be labeled per client, project, etc. Check out Timepost: (which plugs in with Basecamp, activcollab, Harvest, and other project management tools). Time is money!
Toggl, Tick, Harvest, Billings, iBiz, Slife.
— File it away: I covered an awkward step against the back wall of the office with these modular credenzas from the EFFECTIV line at IKEA. You can choose the base, cabinet doors and interior to create customized storage. They're stackable, too:
Clutter looks a lot neater when you use multiples of the same desktop storage boxes. I chose a clean white so that it blended in with the walls. I try to get sturdy yet inexpensive ones because they can really add up. These are metal-reinforced paperboard KASSET from IKEA:
(The Container Store has some great ones, too).
For storing more hanging folders or smaller office items, I also found these ERIK file cabinets at IKEA in a great punchy lime color (which they don't seem to have in that color anymore.)
You'll also be more inclined to take part in your hobbies after hours if your supplies are sorted and easy to get to: Cart on the left from The Container Store. Cart on right, no longer available, from Crate & Barrel. TRIPP Stacking patterned boxes from IKEA:
— Use inspiration binders: Finding myself lost in a sea of inspiration clippings, I went through the labor-intensive task of filing everything in 8.5 x 11 plastic sleeves (that you can get at any office supply store) and placing them in 3-ring binders. It was totally worth it.
People tease me about my "OCD" binders, but they have made my life so much more organized. I have binders for my graphic design work, home decor work, holidays, paper craft, recipes, entertaining, fashion, you name it. And because I wanted the binders quickly at hand, and therefore exposed, I invested in some really great-looking ones from Russell and Hazel:
— Clear your mind with a pinup board:
I think this is one of my all-time favorite solutions in my office. It is the simplest thing in the world, but what it does, and symbolizes, is enormous. Often times when I am trying to focus on getting a task done, my mind is racing all over the place with side ideas that have absolutely nothing to do with the DEADLINE I should be focusing on. So, I "throw it up on the wall".
That intriguing postcard, seasonal inspirations, a new idea for my work with AIGA Boston, an idea for yet another side business, the charity I want to start "someday": it all goes up in some form on the wall. It gets it out of my head at the moment, but it is not forgotten. When I can take a breather, I simply go peruse the wall and get inspired by something on it.
So, if you've ever made a move at one time in your life to take things into your own hands, or were laid off, but decided to make the most of it, here's to you. And to fulfilling your life long dreams, professionally and personally, one file folder and inspiration binder at a time.