One of the things I struggled with when I first started my business was where to work. I didn’t have a dedicated craft room per se, I started out in a section of our basement, right next to the washer and dryer and dehumidifier. It was loud, dark, and depressing. Worse, when it rained really hard I had to worry about whether I was going to get wet. (We rent, there was no remodeling happening to fix that problem).
That was ok when I was only spending a few hours a week creating things for friends and family. My love of sewing outweighed the depressing aspects and I could wait a day or so if it was raining or damp. I didn’t have to worry about where the baby was going to play because I only sewed when I had someone to watch him or he was sleeping.
However, when I started expanding my business, this became a huge issue. The biggest problem was the fact that I needed to work while the baby was awake, and therefore needed a place for him to play. I also needed to work more than a few hours a day, and really couldn’t justify skipping a day due to rain (I’m a crafter, not a baseball player).
After a few weeks, and some major household changes (we had two people move out), I finally got a space that I can call my own and my productivity went up 1000%
I have found that having a dedicated space for my supplies, files, inventory and computer helps me immensely. First of all, it creates a sense of “going to work” for me. Even though I love working from home, I need separation that going to my studio gives me. When I did not have this dedicated space, it was very easy to get distracted by household chores, the television, or just the sofa calling me to take a nap when the baby did. When I’m in my studio I can close the door and ignore the chores, the tv and the sofa.
I recommend to all people who work out of their homes that they have a dedicated space, even if it’s just a small corner of their living room, bedroom or kitchen. You want a space that says “work” to you so that when you sit down you can remind yourself that you are earning a living and the household chores can wait.
Your workspace should be pleasing to you. Unless you have never had a job outside the home, I am sure that you have had a workspace that just plain sucked the life out of you. Now you have control over that. If you like bright colors, paint the walls a vibrant color. Choose lighting that doesn’t hurt. Choose a wonderful chair. I have pictures that the kids drew all over the walls, and my sewing machine is on a desk that I love. I’m currently waiting for warm weather to refinish a rocking chair, so that I have a place to sit and knit that makes me feel good. You are going to be spending a lot of time in your office. Make it a place you enjoy.
Remember, you are working from home because you want to spend time with your kids, so involve them in your work by making your workspace fun for them, too. A good idea is to have toys that are only played with in the office or studio. For example, my business is crafting and my husband often works at home on the computer, the two year old has certain toys that are unique to each environment. In the studio, he has a set of “craft supplies” (coloring books, crayons, large sheets of paper, scrap fabric, etc.). In my husband’s office, he has an old keyboard, mouse and monitor at his “desk”. You want the kids to enjoy being in your workspace, and to be able to spend time there without being bored. The more they feel at home in your office/studio, the more work you will get done without interruption.
Finally, your workspace should be able to be closed up when it’s time to end your work day. I have the luxury of going downstairs and closing the door, but simply putting your files away and turning off the computer may work for you. In my next segment I will discuss how much work is too much, but for now remember you want to actually spend time with your family, not work 24/7.