Working From Home

  • Standing desks : A review by a couch potato freelancer (gifted)

    This review features the Varidesk ProPlus30, which was kindly gifted to me.

    I’ve been curious about standing desks for a while. I’ve heard about some of the benefits of them, from reducing back pain to boosting energy levels. One thing I’ve become aware of in the last few years, is that I don’t need more time to work, I need more energy. The idea of making a small change to my office space to boost those levels was something I was happy to do. Especially as my professional workspace consisted of two pillows stacked on my lap on the sofa, as a makeshift desk (I have an actual desk, but…I love the sofa.)

    Varidesk kindly got in touch to offer me the chance to try out the ProPlus30, an adaptive workstation to place on top of my desk and give me the option of standing and sitting.

    I was excited. Would I, as a couch potato who gets far too many ‘stand up’ pings from her Apple Watch, suddenly become a super fit person with perfect posture and unending energy? Er, no, it’s a standing desk, not an entire personality and body replacement. But I was hoping for a little boost in productivity and energy levels. And maybe a slight improvement in my digital age slumped shoulders.


    So, what’s it like? Well, on the productivity front, it works. Standing up and working means I spend less time faffing (read: browsing my Facebook feed), and more time getting sh*t done. I’m more purposeful because I want to treat myself to a sit down with a cuppa and a Pinterest slot of time after. I started using it with my Pomodoro timer to really ramp up the productivity.

    (It’s also much easier to have a boogie at your desk when you’re standing. Desk dancing is an important factor to consider)

    I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed using it. I love using it for recording videos and Facebook Lives, where I can move a little and gesticulate more. It’s adjustable, so at 5ft 4in, I could get it to the perfect height. What I’m saying is, it’s great for getting that perfect ‘trim the chins’ angle.


    Standing up and working made me feel more aware of how I was standing, particularly my shoulders and my centre of balance (I’m constantly shifting feet). I don’t tend to stay standing for longer than an hour at a time.

    Let’s get into the meaty stuff:


    • Converting it from a seated desk to a standing desk can be done in seconds (see video above). It’s simply a case of pressing the button on each side, and easing it up or down. Just don’t do what I did and press the buttons without holding on. My laptop nearly took its first flight through the office window.
    • It doesn’t require building, I just pulled it out of the box and placed it on the desk.
    • There’s loads of desk space, and space to pop your Bluetooth devices.
    • It looks good. I mean, it’s big (a dinky IKEA desk isn’t going to hold this bad boy), but it looks great once it’s in place. There’s also a different version of the Varidesk if you have two monitors that you use regularly
    • Varidesk offer a 30 day guarantee, so if standing isn’t for you, you can return and get a refund.


    • It’s heavy. It was a two-person job to lift it onto the desk. We’ve got a pretty sturdy old wooden desk, so it was stable enough, but I would probably put down a thin foam mat or fabric underneath it if I put it on there again to protect the wood.
    • The price is reasonably high at £275, and there are certainly cheaper ones on the market. But this one is high quality, easy to set up and gives the option of being a standing or sitting desk (whereas others are just standing desks).


    • If your desk is a tangle of wires, this is a good time to update your desk to more Bluetooth/wireless devices so you can easily move the desk up and down without yanking anything out. If you use a laptop rather than a desktop, a wireless mouse and keyboard make it much easier to use the Varidesk easily.
    • Have a think about footwear. This is not the time for stilettos (but hey, you’re working from home, why would you be even wearing them).


    Yup. I’m a standing desk convert. I find it particularly good for those days when I really need to focus, but it’s great to have the option either way. It’s not an essential item, but I feel like the benefits really make it worth looking at if you’re spending a long time at your desk.

    You can find the Varidesk ProPlus 30 on Amazon (affiliate link) or direct from Varidesk.

  • Five Ways To Unwind And Relax As A Freelancer

    When I worked in an office, in a full-time job, I spent most of the day feeling anxious and on edge. Being an introvert, working in an office (an, horror of horrors, an open-plan office), and I remember getting into my car and breathing a sigh of relief to be in my own space. I could only really relax once I was on my own.

    So, you’d think working from home would mean I’d be relaxed all the time? Right?


    Here’s the flipside. Working from home means it’s hard to stop working, turn off and step away from your work. In the office I couldn’t wait to escape, but now I’m at home, it’s much hard to have that cut off time (e.g getting into my car and relaxing). Relaxation is so important, especially as you are your busiensses’s most important resource, and you’re juggling so much. But a lot of us are pretty terrible bosses to ourselves when it comes to stopping and unwinding from work.

    So, what’s a freelancer to do?

    Fear not! I’ve got five tips to help you reclaim your relaxation time back.

    1. Get away from your device. I know, that old chestnut. But I guarantee, you’re not going to start relaxing until you’re away from that touchscreen. It’s sitting there, silently telling you there’s more work to do and you’re being lazy (which, obviously, is utter nonsense). Time to shut it up. You’ve got a few options for this:
      • Basic: Use the Forest app on your phone to stop the automatic checking
      • Intermediate: Put your phone away somewhere, close enough for you to hear if someone rings, but far enough that you can’t just reach for it.
      • Advanced: Turn that bad boy off. Not silent. OFF. Or at least in aeroplane mode.
    2. Find your relax mode. Everyone has different preferences with their chosen relaxation activities. For me, I rarely sit and do one thing, so just sitting and watching a movie and nothing else doesn’t work for me. Walking, either with Oscar in the buggy, or a podcast plugged in, is my ultimate unwind activity (I know, still using my device, but I keep it tucked away in my pocket). Or a really good bath with podcasts or a movie playing. For you, it might be a really good workout, 10 minutes of meditation, indulging in some cooking or putting Netflix through some marathon training. Or creating a little zone in your home which you can retreat to for relaxation. For me, that’s the bathroom. Because it has a lock and all the books. What makes you feel good, tops up your energy or makes you feel focused again? Don’t worry about what you feel you SHOULD be doing, focus on what works for YOU.
    3. Make it a daily habit. I try to do one bit of self-care each day, and noting it down makes me more mindful of doing it. When you make self-care a priority, you’re effectively giving your brain the chance to relax and recover every day, rather than waiting for it to get completely overwhelmed. Little and often!
    4. Set goals. It’s very easy as a freelancer to always have something next on your To Do list. So firstly, accept you’ll never finish your list. Ever. Go on, take a big scary breath and accept that you’re not going to reach the perfection of a list full of ticks. Done? Great. Now set yourself three goals each day. If you do those, you’re doing well. If you do more, great! But don’t work into the night trying to fight a losing battle with your list. Set yourself a finish time for the day, and set your goals. That structure will help keep you focused, and allow you some unwind time too.
    5. Schedule in your monthly treat. One thing I do in my Facebook group is to prompt group members to set themselves a fun activity or challenge each month. It’s a way to remind ourselves to schedule in something fun. I know, I know. Scheduled fun. *Shudder* But so often, we freelancers can be so focused on growing our businesses, that we forget to have a bit of fun. So, set yourself a reminder for the first of each month to book in something fun. Whether it’s a half day at a spa, a trip to the zoo, a meet up with another freelancer, or a quick skydiving session (casual), booking in something fun is a great way to have something to look forward to.

    These are all small changes that can make a big difference in the long-term. Like the idea and want to implement some more small changes? Take my free Four Weeks Of Freelance Habits course!

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    How do you unwind and relax as a freelancer?

  • How to deal with loneliness as a freelancer

    How to deal with loneliness as a freelancer

    When you work from home, loneliness can often be an unfortunate side effect. For some of us who identify as an introvert, working from home is the ideal – away from the small talk, constant chatter and people time of an office job. But for others, the days can be long, far too quiet and quite lonely. It can be disheartening to see everyone enjoying Friday night drinks, or having no one to celebrate a win with or commiserate on a loss.

    Working on your own shouldn’t mean you have to work alone though. In all honesty, I don’t think I realised how lonely it could be to be at home on your own for most of the day, until I became a mum. For the first time in a long time, I felt real loneliness (Channel Mum recently discovered that 9 out of 10 mums felt lonely). I really struggled with it for months, until I decided to take some steps to get out there and meet more people. Mate date. Primarily through apps like Mush and Peanut.

    The thing is, making friends as a parent isn’t that different to making friends as a freelancer. You don’t necessarily have opportunities like all the activities and childcare that kids bring. But there are other ways you can get out there, meet more people and create that support network that can be missing when you’re freelance. The key is to be pro-active and get yourself out there.

    Here are just a few of the ways you can do it:

    Networking events

    I know lots of readers get nervous about going to networking events and focus on the business side. But I’ve made some really lovely local friends through going to networking events. Think about it – these are people who more than likely also work from home, run their own business and get the pressures. You probably share a lot of interests. And it’s only for a couple of hours.

    Here are a few articles on networking which might help


    If you miss working next to colleagues, have a look for local co-working venues or events (Jelly do regular co-working events across the country so you can go without feeling like you’re committing to office space.)

    Push yourself to organise meet-ups

    Have you ever organised a meet-up before? It’s one of the best ways to meet new people, because you can control where you meet, what you’ll do and you’ll be there from the start so people will immediately gravitate towards you. You could set yourself the goal to do one bigger meet-up, or organise to meet up with a new person every week or every month. Facebook Groups are a great place to do this, especially the local ones. Or contact people you chat to on Instagram regularly, they’re probably keen too!

    Come join us in the Facebook group!

    Finally, come join the Freelance Lifestyle Facebook community of lovely freelancers. It’s a really kind, supportive and funny community of freelance types, primarily UK-based, and therefore perfect for finding other local freelancers to meet up with! Want to join? You can access the community by joining the weekly mailing list. There’s a bundle of other freelancing freebies in there too for you.

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    Are you a freelancer?

  • Working From Home Bingo

    Today I’ve got a post for you in collaboration with Furniture At Work, who sent me over a video that really struck a chord with me.

    I love that the video recognised the difference challenges of working in an office and working from home. Even down to going professional on the top, pyjamas on the bottom when jumping on a conference call!

    It got me thinking – which things have we all done when working from home?

    Pull out your marker, it’s time to play Work From Home bingo!

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Doll up your top half for a conference call

    (Bonus points if you only style the front of your hair)

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Work on a particularly boring task in front of Netflix

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Have a mini office dance party when a project goes well.

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Get too chatty with the postman because they’re the first person you’ve seen today

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Become the default house for all the deliveries in your street.

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Keep a ‘postman bra’ by the door to throw on when the doorbell goes unexpectedly

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Find yourself cleaning the house instead of dealing with a tricky work task

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Feel irrational rage when people are noisy in your street in the middle of the day

    (This was me this week when trying to record a podcast when my neighbours were having building work)

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Feel a little bit jealous of people’s takeaway lunches on Instagram…

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] …Then realising that you can cook really amazing lunches at home/order a Dominos

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Put Peppa Pig on so you can take a call/reply to an important email

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Feel a bit smug when it’s 8am and you don’t have to commute to work

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Fend off friends or family who assume you can drop work at a moment’s notice

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Reach peak ‘I need to see humans’ status and heading to a coffee shop

    [su_icon icon=”icon: check-square-o”][/su_icon] Come home again and realise how much you love working from home

    Thanks to Furniture At Work for sending over the video, have a peek at their site for lots of cheap office desks and more!

  • In love with my landline: Panasonic KX-PRW120 phone review


    I can’t remember the last time I used my landline phone at home. I haven’t added it to the phone number section of a form for years, and I jump out of my skin when it actually rings (inevitably a call from my mother or mother-in-law). Since the popularity of mobile phones, the home phone has taken a backseat.

    Until I gave the Panasonic KX-PRW120 phone a try.

    This stylish cordless phone is packed full of features that make it ideal for a freelancer. The biggest perk being that you can sync it up with your smartphone (using an app), so that you can answer calls from your landline when you’re out and about. This is excellent if you don’t want to give out your mobile number, and want to give the impression of being a ‘proper business’ by having a landline number. There’s also a conference call function that I haven’t used yet (mainly because I often use Google Hangouts and Skype) but I can see a benefit.

    Voicemails are covered too, with a text arriving on your phone when you get one (as long as you’re in the same Wi-Fi zone). You can use your smartphone as an extra handset, although that seems an awful shame – the stylish large 2.2” TFT colour LCD screen makes it a really nice phone to use. There’s even a baby monitor feature.

    There is one downside – the app (if left running) drained my iPhone battery very quickly. If I was being picky, I’d also say that you have to be slightly careful when placing the phone back in the cradle as it’s easy to miss it. However, as I’ve mainly been using my smartphone instead of the handset, this hasn’t been a big problem.

    Like the sound of the Panasonic KX-PRW120? You can pick it up on Amazon for £89.99.

    Disclaimer: I was sent the Panasonic KX-PRW120 to try for free, however I was not paid for the post and all views are my own.

  • A Whole Bundle Of Facts About Home Businesses (Infographic)

    This is a sponsored post from Vonage, who provide communication solutions from people working from home.

    Vonage recently sent over an infographic they’ve put together about working from home. I’ve been working from home, on and off, for six years now. I LOVE it. There are so many benefits, from being more focused and saving on travel costs, to spending less time worrying about office politics and meetings that overrun.

    I’m not alone. 8 million people in the UK run an online business from home. Even more offer services like childminding, pet services and gardening. Services that don’t necessarily require professional premises. We count for 8% of the UK workforce, and that’s growing at a rate of 2000 new home businesses every week. We’re kicking ass from the comfort of our sofas.

    I love that the internet now opens up so many more options to people to start their own businesses. Home businesses are flourishing because there aren’t the same number of barriers up as before. You can start a business with fewer overheads and initial spending, which means you can spend more on the important bits like marketing and networking.

    Want to start a home business? Here are a few examples of businesses you can start:

    • PR
    • Social Media
    • Accountant advice (you all know my buddy Rosie from One Man Band Accounting, right?)
    • CV writer
    • Life Coach
    • eBay Assistant
    • Editorial
    • Journalist
    • Stylist
    • Virtual Assistant
    • Crafts (making and selling)
    • Personal Trainer
    • Party Plan

    Have a little nosy through the stats and let me know what you think.

    Are you a home business owner?


  • Working from home when it’s chilly


    Earlier on the week on Twitter, @AshLawrenceRye cc’d me into a conversation about working from home in the cold. It was suggested that I cover this on The Freelance Lifestyle, given that many of us have to deal with this.


    Thanks to a broken boiler, this has been my reality this week. I spent most of the days working on the sofa in my onesie, under a blanket with a hot water bottle and a mug of hot chocolate. Which all sounded rather marvelous, but I suspect the reality would have been featured in one of those ‘when Pinterest goes wrong’ articles. To be honest, the image on the right above would be a flattering portrayal. But I am, nonetheless, obsessed with cooler days and the delights of keeping warm. Which is perhaps why so many mispronounce my surname as ‘cosy’.

    Anyway, if I WAS one of those effortless women who shrugs on a cashmere vest top and a pair of lounge pants and curls up perfectly in a spotless home, I would probably buy all of items featured below.

    (HA! Kidding. As if being untidy usually stops my shopping habits)

    I asked the lovely freelancing types in my Facebook group Freelance Lifestylers (it’s free, why not join too?) what they did to keep warm without resorting to upping the heating. Here’s what they had to say, along with some suggestions of things that could keep you cosy.

    Working in the boffice with an electric blanket – thermal layers – lots of socks! Doing star jumps in your breaks HAHA. I’m thinking lunchtime baths should be added to this too. Fran Reynolds

    41U7+-vW0tL._SX425_This is a heated cape. A heated cape people! Sure, it’s not the kind of thing you hit up a networking event in, but it’s snuggly. It’s £49.99 on Amazon.

    Currently working under a blanket, wearing Uggs! Also, when it just gets unbearably cold in our flat (we have storage heaters that as far as I can tell basically require witchcraft to set up properly) I head to the library and work from there -it’s free, it’s warm, and there’s a coffee shop! Emily Jayne Phillips 


    Simple heated slippers aren’t enough. Nope. You need Narwharl heated slippers! Firebox, £24.99. (They’re the unicorn of the sea donchaknow?)

    Side note – I love how many freelancers are supporting and working in their local libraries.

    Layers and layers of socks! Staying in the warm bed longer, and doing workouts. I hear dogs and cats are helpful too, but apparently it’s frowned on to borrow them just for personal heating. Jo Shock

    cableknitsocksBoux Avenue is one of my favourite places for cosy loungewear, and these pom pom socks (£15) are divine. Cats are also a useful substitute. Not to wear, obviously.

    Hot shower then layer up. Fleece lined woolen socks Madeleine Noble Jones

    Cosy ChristmasLush is always my first stop for comforting treats to add to my bath. The Cosy Christmas box above is full of treats including the Hot Toddy shower gel, Snowman Jelly, Celebrate body lotion and Snowcake soap.

    I have a plug in heater for when it’s freezing but I don’t want to heat the whole house. I also find that when you do have the heating on, setting it to come on for just an hour at lunchtime helps to maintain a good temperature without being too extravagant. Oh, and finger-less gloves are good for typing! Katie M Anderson

    screenshot755I also love a good pair of fingerless gloves. Accessorize have a particularly cute collection, including Fairisle ones above (£14).

    Slipper booties, leggings, blanket, hot beverages every half hour. Or pop out to library for free heating. Kerri Walker 

    screenshot756On the tea front, I’m rather addicted to these Twinings flavoured green teas, especially the ginger bread one. With it being green tea, I can convince myself that it’s healthy too. It’s like cake you don’t have to chew.

    I now seem to have taken a rather more drastic approach and I’m looking at flights to warmer climes! Madeleine Noble Jones

    Well, this is the main benefit of being freelance really, isn’t it? The ability to, in theory, be location independent! Good shout.

    Tell me how keep warm during the colder months when you’re working from home? What products do you reach for?


    [themify_hr color=”green” ]

    Untitled design(1)

    Want to break out of the corporate cycle, and enjoy the freedom of being a freelancer? Check out the Freelance Lifestyle E-Course!

  • Shopping with independents: Etsy buys for freelancers

    As a freelancer, I try where possible to buy through other independents to support the industry. To be honest, this isn’t a hard task with marketplaces like Etsy and Folksy around. Etsy in particular is a treasure trove of goodies, especially for freelancers and home workers. If there’s something you can think of, it probably exists – even if it’s really weird (this is where I’d usually link to you the sadly now defunct Regretsy for a round up of some of the worst things on Etsy).

    Here are just a few of my favourite picks.

    Top, from left to right

    Which Etsy shops would you recommend? Do you shop from independents? Let me know in the comments below!