Nosy coworkers, overbearing bosses and malfunctioning equipment — the life of the office worker is not without distraction. But such intrusions are not necessarily limited to offices, as the freelancers who make up more than one-third of the workforce might tell you.

The upsurge in office-less workers is one of the driving forces behind the growth of the co-working industry. These shared spaces are for freelancers who pay for the privilege of working with people who give better feedback than the house cat. 

“The biggest complaint I hear is that working at home gets lonely,” says Melissa Alam, who’s soon opening Hive, a women-only co-working space in Philadelphia. Alam is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Femme & Fortune, an online magazine geared toward the “modern and ambitious woman.”

freelancer tips
Melissa Alam runs the online magazine Femme & Fortune. 'Freelancing means making your own schedule, but it also means learning to be your own boss,' she says.

Alam is opening Hive to give her target audience a place to bounce ideas off of each other. “You get the team feeling of the company, but you’re on your own trajectory, so it’s really the best of both worlds,” she says.

The 900 sq.-ft. space fits 10 women, and there’s a 25-strong waiting list. Alam, who started co-working this year, understands the allure. “It’s so productive to have a space for meetings and a place to just sit down and work without the distractions of home,” she says.

Alam shared some of her tips to staying focused as a freelancer, despite distractions:

freelancer tips
Inside Hive, the women-only co-working space Melissa Alam will soon open in Philadelphia.

1.     Headphones are key. “I love working in an upbeat environment, dancing in my seat.”

2.     Natural light is important. “You want to create a space that feels like a place where you want to sit down and work. You’ll feel more awake and more refreshed.”

3.     Motivational art is cool. “There’s something about positive affirmation and having goals on the wall around you that helps you keep working. Check Pinterest for ideas. It’s the vibe that makes or breaks how you work.”

4.     Write everything down. “I’m a huge believer in lists before you start the workday, and even after the workday’s over. To be a freelancer, you have to have extreme time management skills.”

5.     Keep time: “Get an app to track your time with clients, like Harvest.”

6.     Manage yourself: “Make a schedule. As a freelancer, you have time to randomly run errands, but you have to be responsible about your time and be your own manager.”

7.     Set priorities: “What client work is most important? Not just that, but you have to set some time aside for personal marketing and taxes. You have to be a one-woman show the whole time. But the perks, like the freedom of your schedule, are worth it.”

8.     Find your balance: “When you’re building your business you live, breathe and eat your business. Entrepreneurs are the only people who quit 40-hour jobs to work 80. The best way to have balance is to go to workshops and conferences where you rejuvenate and go back enlightened and excited about your work. Go to networking events. All these things help your business as well.”

9.     Get some sleep: “If there’s a deadline, I will try my best to reach a point where I need to wait for feedback to move forward. Then I just close my laptop and wake up early. I have the same rituals with work as I did in college.”

10. Get moving: “Go out and run, walk or play sports. Staying healthy is very important as an entrepreneur!”

11. Get feedback. “Take a break and discuss a project with a friend. Hearing feedback can be a natural refresher for the mind. Getting an outside opinion helps encourage you and boosts morale. That’s exactly what co-working does.”