The benefits to working from home are numerous. I can work in the evenings once my son Otto has gone to sleep, I have everything I need in one place, overheads are low, and I can include my partner in what’s going on in that part of my life.
I am a big advocate of the home office and, even though I could probably just about afford to have a separate HQ now, and even though my desk is in the hallway and my samples are kept behind my bedroom mirror, I choose to work from home.
Here are a few hacks that I am guilty of using that have allowed my business to flourish from my flat in Hackney.
1. Get into the zone
I have a vintage (ie. second-hand) cupboard with a fold down desk situated in the hallway that i call ‘my office’, whenever I sit there no one is allowed to talk to me (unless they are telling me dinner is ready). When I’m not working, I close the desk door which means that I always have a empty surface to work on when I open it. I also like the symbolic moment of closing it and being done with work for the day. I also couldn’t live without my bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones. I put them on when in work mode and pretend I can’t hear anyone.
2. Build up your mess tolerance
I used to not be able to work if there were dirty dishes in the sink or train set pieces scattered on the floor but, like a navy marine, I trained myself to not notice it. This was not easy but essential. I first started by banning myself from tidying up until I finished a specific task and now I could literally step on Lego and not even pick it up. I also recommend a book called Messy, How to be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World by Tim Harford which celebrates the benefits that messiness has in our lives.
3. Embellish the truth
When I am on a phone call with someone important and my son is whining, I tell them that it’s just my hungry cat. I also save up five-minute tasks that I can do on my phone like cancelling direct debits, scheduling facebook posts or updating apps. When my family are faffing around putting on their jackets and shoes and taking forever to get ready to go out, I pretend to go to the loo and work through the list. I usually stay there until they call out wondering where I am.
4. Be inventive
I keep rolls of different coloured paper and a foot stool in random places in the bedroom - it’s perfect for a bit of flat-lay photography. Apps and programmes such as Pinterest and Tumblr serve as great platforms for creative research, replacing the need for large format physical mood boards which I don’t have room for. For Skype calls, I use the view out the window as my backdrop, although it does mean that I’m sitting on a child’s chair with the laptop on my bed.
5. Splash out on other things
I’m saving money on renting an office so I invested in a few things that would make the home office more productive, like multiple laptop chargers to locate in different places around the house where I like to sit. There is nothing more satisfying than removing the need to constantly hunt around the house for some power - both phone and laptop. When I did finally decide that I was going to make working from home a purposeful decision, i joined a fancy members’ club with a gym, and work there a couple of times a week scheduling meetings and catching up with friends to break up the monotony and feel a bit more glam.
I admit, it’s not perfect working from home and there is always going to be a work-life balance issue that I will battle with. But for now it works ok and I’ll keep tweaking it until sometime, hopefully soon, we move into a bigger place and I might be able to upgrade my hole-in-the-wall desk. But in the meantime, I need to sell a few more bags!