By Gabriela Hersham, CEO and co-founder of Huckletree

When you’re crammed sardine-like on a commuter train, heading for a 9am start in the office, working for yourself can seem pretty enticing. But it comes with its own pitfalls – especially when it comes to your working environment. Here are my top tips for making working for yourself a breeze:

Set some ground rules

Working in your pyjamas might feel like you’re sticking it to the man at first, but one of the main reasons uniforms and dress codes are so important is because what we wear can have a real effect on how we think and act. This doesn’t mean you’ve got to bust out a full power suit every day but, as a minimum, aim to be washed and dressed before the working day starts — it will have a real impact psychologically.

Don’t neglect the basics

There’s a reason large corporates have an occupational health expert check that your desk, computer and chair aren’t having a negative impact on your health – time off with a bad back is bad for business. Show yourself the same respect by buying an office chair that will really support your back, and a proper desk. It’s much better mentally than working at the kitchen table, too, and should be harder to reach for the biscuit tin when you get a bit bored.

Create boundaries

People often mix up ‘self-employed’ with ‘not having a job’. Be firm with those friends who like to ‘pop round’ or are constantly trying to tempt you into long lunches and early darts. And, if you’re planning to work from home, make sure you have a contingency plan for when your partner is off work and trying to tempt you away from your desk. Set working hours … and stick to them.

Get social

Networking is extremely important for ‘solopreneurs’ but, frustratingly, if you’re working alone, it can be very difficult to meet new people. Research local networking events and make a commitment to yourself to go to at least two a month. You never know who you might meet.

Get out there

Humans are social animals and we rather miss the daily social contact when it’s taken away from us, which is probably why many freelancers report finding themselves desperately trying to prolong conversations at the newsagents and coffee shop, or being FAR too excited to see their partner when they get home from work.

To combat this, explore your options for getting out of the house and working elsewhere. Working from a client’s office is one option, and visiting your local coffee shop is another (though many people report that getting the coffee-buying-to-table-occupancy ratio right can be a constant minefield).

Many entrepreneurs and independent workers are also choosing to join coworking spaces, which allow them to share their workplace with other like-minded entrepreneurs. This is worth doing, even if you only actually come into the office once or twice a week, or even a month.

These coworking spaces will usually allow you access on flexible terms – meaning a the price doesn’t have to be catastrophic – and they’re usually excellent places to develop your ideas and build up your contacts.

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