Working From Home: the five sense formula for freelancers

More than ever, women are defining the ways in which we work, and luckily it comes with more flexibility. Freelance hours and self-employment are becoming a large sector of society, fitting in with our multi-dimensional lives and varied roles as women.

Depending on what exactly your creative business or side hustle is - perhaps a studio or shared working space is your ‘office’? it’s likely at some point you’ve found yourself working from home.

Every week I make the deliberate effort to spend at least two afternoons or mornings working from a public space, one that includes coffee and, more often than not, a cheeky flapjack. There’s something healthy about switching up routines and working amidst the buzz of other humans in the outside world!

I’m fairly certain that when people hear “working from home” they often think I’m on the couch in leggings, binge watching my Buffy box-set with laptop in hand. Okay, so whilst leggings frequently appear in my freelance fashion wardrobe (hello comfort), I take steps to ensure my home working environment is conducive to creativity, productivity and, importantly, enjoyable!

After owning a vintage boutique for years, I learnt a lot about the power of atmosphere. I hid vanilla diffusers in each corner of the store. I hand-picked each song on the playlist. I put flattering bulb lighting in the changing room. A bowl of complimentary chocolates sat by the till. Purchases were wrapped in tissue paper.

My point? By appealing to all five senses, my customers remembered the experience and feeling of the shop – as well as the clothes. It made them look forward to coming in, encouraged sales and made it a bloody fun place to work too.

This appreciation of creating an atmosphere has stuck with me, and has since been applied to most areas of my life, including my home working space. So, I thought I would share with you my own take on what I call ‘A five sense formula’ that I follow when working as a freelancer from home.


We soak up what we see.

NYSM styling sight

If you have a desk, or even a dedicated home office room – when did you last take a step back and observe how it looks with fresh eyes? Is it cluttered? Dimly lit? If a client were to visit you for a meeting, would it represent who you are and what you offer?

One quick glance at ‘desk styling’ on Pinterest will show you thousands of perfectly poised, insta-ready neat home working spaces that look like they haven’t seen a day’s work in their overly styled lives. Don’t get me wrong, I like a rose gold desk lamp, colour co-ordinated stationary and obligatory copy of ‘Girl Boss’ as much as the next lady, but please do your desk style YOUR way. Make it unique and personal with photos of your loved ones, trinkets, upcycled storage pots.

I actually have a giant David Bowie poster on the wall behind my desk, which clients often comment on during skype calls!

Give yourself adequate, clear space to scribble notes, sketch, plan, plot and play.

Find a way to conceal your plugs, chargers, and socket extensions, maybe with a lead box organiser box to keep them protected and not look like electronic spaghetti on your floor.

Surround yourself with things that are both useful and beautiful, i.e; a bunch of flowers and your pencil pot. It’s great to have pretty notebooks and gold pineapple statues, but you also want to have easy access to useful, practical things you need to grab.

If you have the space – pop your favourite photograph, poster or inspirational quote in your eyeline vision. It will have an impact on your brain, even if you don’t know it.

Get great lighting. This one’s a biggie, especially as the darkness draws in with Autumn. Experiment with lamps, fairy lights and up lighters to find a level that you like and keeps productivity going!

Opt for desk accessories in colours or patterns you love, from box files to mouse mats.


NYSM styling sounds

If you absolutely need to work in silence, then skip this part and carry on scrolling! Personally, I find I need some ambient, background noise to get in the ‘flow’.

My Spotify playlist of choice is often aptly named ‘Starbucks acoustic’ or ‘coffee time chill out’ and it plays most of the day. I’m also partial to chill fm, because there’s no loud, chatty radio DJ’s or crude adverts to intrude in my head space.

When I’m not focused on technical tasks or writing but designing and styling imagery – I love me a good podcast, they are a great way to feel part of a conversation without scrolling on a screen, and can really inspire you whilst you create.

If you can, shut surrounding doors to eliminate distracting sounds (barking dogs, roadworks, traffic) and it’s always worth investing in a quality pair of headphones if you really need to tune out and focus, whether working from home or out.


I feel this is the subtlest of all five sense driven styling tips.

NYSM styling smells

Just like visual stimulation and noise levels, scent can massively affect our mood. Good news – being at home means you can control this to suit your exact tastes.

Fill your working space with smells that suit you. Scented candles contribute to a nice working vibe – vanilla, cinnamon, lemon and jasmine are all recommended to boost happiness and concentration.

Not keen on a naked flame? Try flavoured incense, infused reeds or a swanky oil diffuser to fill your nose with niceness. Mother nature can provide the sweetest smells of all – treat yourself to some flowers or plants. Even a small bunch of rosemary looks nice, smells good and when rubbed between your fingers is an instant pick-me-up, proven to enhance your memory too!


This glorious sense is where working from home truly comes into its own.

NYSM styling touch

I’m talking soft fluffy rugs under foot, a padded suede comfy chair, feather filled velvet cushions, silky throws - you can truly indulge as you are NOT in an office! No odd looks thrown your way as you slide your toes into furry slippers, or cuddle a leopard print hot water bottle, or wrap yourself in your favourite dressing gown / jumper / onesie / lounge pants / mad vintage cardigan with pearls.


NYSM styling taste

Working from home can mean more freedom to eat and drink when it suits you. Hurrah! I like to start my day with a fresh cup of coffee, then later a mid-morning breakfast as I can’t face eating too early. I used to find it SO hard forcing a bit of food down before entering work, only to be starving at 11am and unable to concentrate until I stuffed my face at lunch!

If you don’t have the time to carve out making something fresh on the equivalent of your lunch break, make an extra portion of the previous night’s dinner for a quick leftover lunch fix. Or, pop out daily for some fresh air if you live near a store to buy whatever the hell you feel like that day!

Stock your kitchen with a variety of yummy drinks to enjoy and break up your day. Coffee, tea, herbal tea, green smoothies, lemon and hot water, hot chocolate, juice, fizzy soft drinks. You choose.

Worried about hitting the biscuit tin because it’s-just-right-there….? Keep healthy options on hand to graze on throughout the day if you’re a serial snacker (I hear ya). A fruit bowl, seed and nut pots, raisins, carrot sticks and dips - all in pretty little ceramic bowls, naturally.


I hope some of these ideas inspire you to fully appreciate and fall a bit more in love with the styling of your home working space, whatever your set up may be. Want to share your styled space? Tag me on Instagram or twitter @nysm_styling and say hello!