7 freelancing locations to mix up your workday

I was staggered to learn recently that freelancers now make up around a third of the Australian workforce. Although, perhaps I needn’t have been so surprised. Having recently joined the ranks as a freelance copywriter, I can certainly attest to the benefits of the lifestyle. I am my own boss and the hours are more flexible which suits my young family. Things can get a little lonely though, especially when you’re used to a bustling office or workplace. You may need to mix up where you work not only to stay motivated and inspired, but to keep company with other like-minded folk. My desk is the kitchen table, which makes me very portable. When I need a change of scene, I just pack up my laptop and planner and off I go. Coworking spaces are brilliant if you’re seeking a community of freelancers and creatives to work alongside, but there are plenty of other alternative spaces that might work for you.

Need focus?

Try a library! All libraries have different vibes, with some offering lovely views and even indoor/outdoor spaces. Explore your local neighbourhood or head to your state library for an environment that is reliably calm and aids concentration.

Hunting for inspiration?

Look no further than a cafe for excellent people watching and fascinating conversation snippets. Select one where the atmosphere and playlist suit your work style and, if you’re going to settle in, try to choose a quieter time of day. Pop onto a communal table or bench and order a meal or at least a couple of drinks to maintain a good relationship with the staff.

Errands to run?

It’s a freelance work day but the errands won’t run themselves. Leave the car at home and catch a tram or train instead, using that time to work productively. If you miss out on a seat, pop on a podcast to motivate you and use your Trello board or planner to help you organise the day ahead.

Craving collaboration?

Loads of coworking spaces are popping up all over the place - pick one that suits your vibe and try it for a day. If you need to put your head down, others will understand. If you want to chat or need a break, there will be people happy to oblige!

The great outdoors your thing?

A local park might just be the thing you need if it’s a lovely day. The best part? You can stay as long as you like.

Fancy some motivation?

Remember the good old days of group school projects? Camping out at a friend’s place in the afternoon made work so much more fun and the work got done with minimal fuss. Bring nibbles or coffee and try working side by side at someone else’s house. It may just be the productivity nudge you need.

Got the travel bug?

Take a workation! On Instagram recently, I saw a snap of a bunch of freelancing creative types who took themselves off for a couple of days and rented a house to work. This idea ticks so many boxes - change of scenery, collaboration, motivation, inspiration. I’m yet to try this idea but I think it sounds fantastic.

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10 Desk Essentials you Need on Hand to Boost Productivity

You may think of your desk simply as a home for your laptop or, alternatively, a surface to clutter with photos and all sorts of other paraphernalia. Arm yourself with these 10 desk essentials and you will see results! You’ll work smarter and quicker, with everything you need easy access to close at hand. By minimising distractions and enhancing opportunities to motivate yourself, you will have a better work day - every day.

Clutter-free is the only way, allowing you to see exactly what is in front of you. So, whether you’re working from home or the office, a streamlined approach will ensure you can find things easily and deal with the curveballs of the day more calmly. Most importantly, you will save time, with no need to rummage through drawers or piles of papers you have been hoarding. Be inspired by the list below then be in touch to let me know your favourite must-haves.

NOTEPAD OR TO-DO LIST

Record brainstorming, important thoughts before they wander off, phone numbers or sums and your top 3 tasks for the day. I adore the gorgeous stationery designs from Melbourne publisher Green Pea.

ARTWORK OR A PHOTOGRAPH FOR A PERSONAL TOUCH

Ideally this should be mounted off your desk out of the way and should motivate and inspire you. For beautiful inexpensive artworks, be sure to check out Etsy or to display your photos uniquely try OnStone prints.

DESK ORGANISER

Fill it with a stapler and staples, small and large bulldog clips, working pens and highlighters. I love Kikki K for affordable sleek design.

REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE

Hydration is key. It’s amazing how much better your brain works when you regularly top yourself up with H2O. Biome have a huge range of eco friendly water bottles that are perfect for the job.

MIRROR

If you snack at your desk, a mirror can be super handy for quick food-in-teeth inspections before you have a conversation with a colleague. It’s useful for lippy application or hair inspection too without a trek down the hallway to the nearest bathroom.

HEADPHONES

As much as you might like your co-workers or the office playlist, there are some occasions you just want to be in the zone and not interrupted. Or you need a certain motivational tune turned up really loud just for you. Australian-created Nura headphones, launched in 2016, are on my wishlist. My motivational tune is by Flume!

FILE ORGANISER

There should be somewhere for incoming documentation to live, to keep it separate from that you’ve already dealt with. I love Zetta Florence in Fitzroy for pretty treasures.

PRE-PREPARED HEALTHY SNACKS

Beat that afternoon slump and stop you hijacking the morning tea leftovers or standing in front of the fridge making a bad hungry choice. I get all my nuts and assorted healthy paraphernalia in a mega monthly shop at The Source Bulk Foods.

TISSUES

Winter colds are standard. If you’re a frequent tissue user, it’s worth investing in something with a little kindness woven in, such as aloe vera. Sandpaper nose = no fun.

HAND CREAM

For the fantastic packaging as well as organic goodness, try the range from Byron Bay outfit Babe Australia.

 

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7 Strategies to Keep you Calm at Work

1. 5 deep breaths

If I’ve learnt anything from mindfulness training, it’s that you don’t have to find huge blocks of time to refocus. If you can find just one minute between meetings, after a difficult email or phone call or when your to-do list is freaking you out, that’s all you need. Take 5 deep breaths, bringing your focus inward and consciously slowing down. It’s like your own personal restart button.

2. Get fresh air

Yeah, yeah. I know you know about this one. It’s not the same as just stretching your legs by walking to the fridge either. You need to get outside and breathe in nature, even if your office is in a concrete jungle. The oxygen to your brain will refresh you, meaning once you’re back at your desk, you’ll be more productive and positive than before.

3. Try Pomodoro

This is the time management method developed in the late 1980s by which you work hard for a 25-minute burst followed by a 5-minute break. This strategy really helps me to focus. I select only one particular task to work on in each finite time frame. The breaks refresh me and I use them however I need - to make a quick snack, throw on a load of washing or scroll my Instagram. Cumulative productivity earns you rewards with 4 pomodoros giving you a 15-30 minute break. The goal is to enhance focus and flow.

4. 3 for today

Anyone else feel sick looking at their to-do list? While there is certainly a purpose for making lists - they help me to feel in control of the many facets of my life - they are too overwhelming in their naked form. A former colleague of mine took them to the extreme, covering her desk with more than 20 fluorescent post-its at any one time! Choose three things only as your top priorities for the day. It is manageable and you’ll feel great when you achieve them. Once you’ve ticked them off, add three more!

5. Aesthetics are everything

You may not be able to do much about the physical parameters of your workspace, but you can pretty it up. Add colour, a mood board, tear-outs from magazines, drape fabric or pin photos. Make your space somewhere you are happy to sit and you will begin to look forward to spending time there. I love to be able to see flowers or candles from where I sit, as well as photos of my family as they inspire me and keep me motivated.

6. Break for lunch

Not only that but, when you do, eat mindfully. We’ve all been guilty of eating while working, paying no attention to the flavours and textures of our food. When you take a break from your work, and step away from your desk to eat, it makes a difference to how much you enjoy your food, while giving you a brain break too.

7. Create work/life division however you can

After my toddler goes down for a nap, I light a candle and put on some relaxing music before firing up my computer. The bonus is that the scent from the candle relaxes me and the music slows my mind down, allowing me to transition more smoothly into work time.

Add Contact Emma McMillan to the top of your priority list for tomorrow!

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A Day in the Life of a Copywriter/Mama

Sharing a day of my life with you is a little tricky. Some days, I put on my educator hat and spend the day wrangling secondary school students (read: inspiring the young minds of tomorrow) while my mini is socialising at the local childcare. Other days are more of a juggle as I put on both my freelance copywriter and mum hats and try my hardest to fulfil both roles authentically. It may go a little something like this:

6.30-7ish

Hear the mini chatting to himself in his bedroom next door. Try and grab a few extra bedtime minutes by bringing him in for his bottle and his collection of toys.

7.30

Downstairs for playtime where all the carefully categorised and tidied toys are strewn around the living room in 0.46 seconds. All. Of. Them.

7.45

Saucepan cupboard exploration.

7.50

Tupperware drawer exploration. The house now looks like 25 children live here.

8.00

Brekky then we hit the pavement in the pram for coffee and an activity (swimming, the library, a playdate, Grandma and Grandpa time). While walking I might pop my headphones in and do a quick 10 minute meditation. While at coffee, I’ll jump on Trello and make a plan for the day - 3 items to action while bub naps later in the day.

11.30

Home in time for lunch, which may be eagerly devoured or dropped on to the floor, depending on the day.

12noon

Nap time. Not for me, although some days I’d dearly love to. However, this is biz time so I need to hop to it. I light a candle, pop on some music and fire up my laptop. I like to use the Pomodoro Technique, working in 25-minute blocks, as I find it really promotes productivity. During the 5-minute breaks, I’ll fix a quick snack or throw on a load of washing.

2.30ish

The mini wakes up and it’s time for his afternoon bottle then playtime. We will read a stack of books too, several times over if requested. I love that my little one is so keen for story time.

3.30

Afternoon tea then we’ll pop to the park if it’s a nice day.

4.00

An afternoon walk, perhaps with a girlfriend and her bub, followed by a pop in to the supermarket for a few dinner essentials.

5.30

Dinner, again a battleground depending on the day. This toddler is certainly revealing his strong will at times!

6.10

My husband walks through the door - happy days! Playtime with Daddy and then bath time for bub. I start on dinner prep and let the boys have some time together.

7.00

Bub to bed and we cook then sit down to dinner. Some nights I’ll head out to an exercise session, others we will pop on an episode of a series we’re watching and have a glass of red. I might send a few cheeky emails or pop up an Instagram post during the show. I try not to multi-task but sometimes it can’t be helped.

10.00

I’m an early-to-bed person these days so I try to be in bed by 10. I will read a few pages of a book - currently 57 Ways to Change Your Mind before I fall asleep and drop the book on my husband’s face. Unfortunately I’m wildly predictable that way.

Perhaps you're also a juggling mama? Let me help save you time and provide you with some dazzling content too! Be in touch.

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