When I decided to quit my full-time job as a SysAdmin, I knew I was going to need to spend some money to use things I took for granted. But I didn’t realize just how many “little” tools I had access to as an employee that I needed to prepare when I became a freelancer.
Here are 6 gadgets that will help you make that Day 1 as a self-employed entrepreneur much smoother than my own.
I knew coming in that I would need a good laptop that will serve me for years as a power house and storage space for my company. Few months before I quit my full-time job, I purchased a 13″ MacBook Pro.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for your machine. It just needs to be able to support the kind of work you want to be doing. Windows, Macs, Linux, whatever works best for you, at the price point that works for you!
I know we keep most of our notes on the cloud these days, but having a physical place to write out your thoughts and keep notes is very helpful. I personally use a Moleskine Notebook (4.5″ x 7″ Dotted) to write down ideas, daily to-do lists, and break down projects.
Taking those 3 minutes first thing in the morning to write out all the worrying to-do’s that began swirling in my mind as soon as I woke up helps me start my morning on the right foot.
I recently sized down from the larger 5″ x 8.25″ to this size, because I noticed myself not wanting to carry around the larger notebook because it takes up a lot of space in my bag.
I also saw on a YouTube video that someone found it easier to continue a journaling or note taking habit when he used smaller journals because he was able to fill them up faster. “Habit Forming” being one of those things I struggle with, I decided to go with a smaller journal that I take everywhere with me.
I also have a weekly planner that I picked up at a local stationary store. I liked the format of the big white space for to-do tasks for the day, and the freedom to start on whatever month of the year.
I put my active work tasks (like lessons I’m writing or course I’m scripting) and cross them out as I complete them every day. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that ☑️ Check Boxes serve as source of motivation for me, so I utilize it for everything.
🎧 Noise Canceling Headphones
It’s the dream life people are raving about, right? The “Digital Nomad” life. The ability to work from anywhere! No more offices! No more cubicles! The ultimate freedom!
Well, the dirty truth is that while photos of “Digital Nomads” working from the beach in Bali are the ones you see most often online to represent us… Most of us just stay at home, enjoying our workstation we’ve set up in our home office. The only difference between going into an actual office and our “Digital Nomad” life is that we can wear pajama pants and don’t have to commute.
Though heck, there ARE people who DO commute to a co-working space. At that point, it’s basically replicating being in an office by now PAYING to go to an office. Hahaha. Oh, humans. We’re such silly creatures!
The most “traveling” we manage to do is to drag ourselves out to the closest coffee shop that has semi-comfortable seating, wall outlets, and won’t kick us out even if we sat there with our been-cold-for-4-hours cup of coffee.
One thing that I have found to help me focus in my home office and ESPECIALLY in a public location like a cafe or god forbid- the outside (does anyone ACTUALLY enjoy working in the glaring sun?) – is my Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones.
Now, I’m not saying you have to drop $350 for a pair of noise cancelling wireless bluetooth headphones with Alexa voice control. But I AM saying having the ability to tune the “outside world out” at will, whether to bask in the White Noise it generates or your own playlist, is life changing.
I’ve even began paying for a Spotify subscription so that I have my favorite “work playlists” at my fingertips to help me get in the “zone.”
🖥 Workstation Setup
Going directly off the previous point about how most of us stay put in our in-home office… A workstation set up is very important. Somewhere you feel calm and collected, with as little visual and sensory clutter as possible to help jump start your productivity.
My set up is pretty simple. I have a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and a laptop stand connected by some cables. All this sits on top of an IKEA Standing Desk, which is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.
Having the choice of standing up or sitting down whenever and continue working has done wonders for my back. And the external keyboard helps with the cramping that comes with typing for too long on the infamous butterfly keyboards.
As a founder, you’re going to be at your desk for a long time every day. So you might as well make it ergonomic while you’re at it. Your back and shoulders will thank you.
📂 Accordion File Folders
Being a founder means one thing. A LOT OF PAPERWORK. And you want to keep a copy of your paperwork on hand. The repercussions of misplacing paperwork is a lot higher when YOU are the company, and YOU are in charge of keeping everything updated and filed.
So get yourself an accordion-style document organizer. One of those folders with a lot of folders inside. Just trust me on this. It makes your life A LOT easier.
I usually have one big one for every year just for my personal use, for filing my employment information, investment paperwork, healthcare paperwork, etc. But I just went ahead and bought another one just for my LLC today.
🖨 Scanner/Printer Combo
Another big part of being a founder is that you are constantly printing and scanning things to sign, file, and send off. While there are a lot of ways these days to circumvent the printing – signing – scanning – emailing loop, like using Adobe Sign or other eSignature software, the old machine is slow to adjust to the 21st century.
I personally have a Brother All-In-One Printer which comes with a scanner and can be connected via wifi to all the devices in my house.
If it’s just one or two pages, you might be able to get away with using a Photo to PDF app on your phone, but when it’s not just a page or two, it’s just easier to have a scanner at the ready.
Same goes for printing. I definitely took for granted being able to print whatever I needed at the office! Now, if I didn’t have a printer at home, I’d have to go out to locate a printer service and pay them money to print.
This also means that depending on how much printing you have to do for your job, it may or may not make sense to need the printer part of the printer/scanner. Personally though, it saved me a lot of time to have it at home, especially as I was opening a lot of accounts and signing a lot of documents as I filled out paperwork for the LLC.
Oh. A bonus. A STAPLER. You should get a stapler.