Freelancing: Invest in Yourself

A few weeks ago, a new desktop computer arrived at my office. (For you geeks out there, it’s a 27 inch 5K iMac.) Within an hour of setting it up, I’d already adjusted to the extra screen acreage—more than double what I had before.

By the next day, I couldn’t imagine how I’d been able to get anything done before it arrived. Typing this, I take for granted the multiple open windows I can see on the two screens… it’s almost as freeing as the view of a distant shoreline on my morning paddles.

desk layout iMac and second monitor

As a writer/editor, my overhead is pretty small. But once in awhile, I see a way to invest in myself that pays off well beyond the dollar outlay. Good tools make me work more efficiently by making the job easier, but they also accomplish two other things that are even more valuable:

  1. They remind me that I’m worth it. Taking myself and my work seriously is a way of showing its value to others.
  2. They remind me that I’m a professional, not a hobbyist. If I don’t take my work seriously, who will?

As a freelancer, it’s all too easy to go without office supplies and state of the art equipment that an employer might provide. But part of our workday freedom is being able to choose what’s important to us—even if it’s something that just makes us happy when we sit down at our desks each morning. I happen to like paper goods, so even in this digital age my desk tends to be littered with memo pads, a printed calendar, Seahorse, and a few well-designed brochures from a recent research trip. I also like stuffed animals, so Max the Powermax monkey hangs from my (new daylight-simulating LED) desk lamp.

I spend so much time trying to get things right for my clients, it’s easy to forget to get things right for myself. But in the month since my new computer and new desk lamp went to work, I’ve been happier sitting down each morning—which definitely makes me more productive. By investing in myself, I’m showing respect for my own work, and that makes it more likely that my clients will do the same.

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