Working for myself means I'm the one who keeps my office supplied with the essentials. Over the years, there are a couple of items I've purchased that are absolutely essential to keeping my office humming. Of course, I need a computer (two computers is actually better) and Internet and a phone.
But the number one most important piece of equipment I've purchased for my office? My surge protector with the battery back up. We have frequent power outages here -- had one this afternoon. Usually they last 10 seconds or so, just long enough for everything to shut down and need re-set. I can't tell you how many times I've been working on my desktop computer when the power went out. In the past, the computer went out and I lost whatever I was working on. With the surge protector battery back up, the computer continues to run for up to 30 minutes, long enough for me to save whatever I'm working on and safely shut down the computer if need be. The real lifesaver came on the day I was on the phone in the middle of an interview when the power shut off. My phone needs electricity to operate and it is plugged into the surge protector battery back up. I was able to continue my interview until its natural conclusion and the people on the end had no idea anything had happened. And I still had time to shut down my computer properly.
My cell phone may be my second most important piece of equipment. It's my official business number. I don't use it for interviews or calls I make because I don't feel it is comfortable to do interviews on that phone. However, I don't like to give out my office landline because I work from my house. Because of the topics I cover, the vast majority of my interview sources and contacts are based on the west coast. I'm on the east coast. I've had my office landline ring at 11 pm because a west coast source had time to return a call to me at 8 pm his time and didn't think twice about it. I've had sources call on weekends. It's hard enough to have boundaries when you work at home. Phone calls during off hours don't help. My cell phone is programmed to turn on when I am officially in the office; it turns off automatically at the end of my work day. These are my office hours and people who want to call me at 8 pm on a Friday evening can leave a message. Just like they would if I worked in an office outside the house.
The third thing is my recorder. When I first started writing, I wrote out all my interviews by hand. Luckily I wrote fast but it was hard to capture everything, especially if the interviewee talked 100 miles an hour. When I got the equipment to record interviews, my work life got so much easier. I still take notes -- I've learned that recordings can go wrong -- but now I can review the written notes to figure out how I want to write a piece and then use the recording for quotes and more exact info.
What work things are most important to you?