I've been asked more than a few times about how I balance having a 4 year old and running a biz from home. Not only is this my biggest pain point these days, it's also the most rewarding. Read on and you'll see why!
Let me start with some of the more challenging things:
- I have a tiny home. A 2 bedroom 1.5 bathroom two story town home where the living space is just one big box of a room.
- My 4 year old does NOT attend any outside school.
- My family shares one car, a Subaru that I love. We live in the burbs, so not much in terms of major public transportation.
In this blog I'm going to talk about the first one, our space limitations. This will be really beneficial to freelancers, artists, developers, writers and independents, so please share it in your circles. I'll write about the other challenge soon.
Most people who work from home, generally have an office. There are those who work using a laptop or iPad from the couch, but most people try to setup an office in their home to make things more comfortable. While this is the usual thing to do, it's not necessarily feasible. Think about it if everyone who worked from home had to meet the requirement of having a room dedicated to their business space, there probably wouldn't be too many people who were able to work from home. From Studios to 5 bedroom homes, believe me when I tell you it's not about the space. It's about brilliant scheduling, your intentions and the ability to open your mind.
In the past I've had my office at the kitchen table, on our old futon or even more surreal, in a closet under the stairs. I've been made fun of on a few occasions, especially because of the closet-office. I could barely move my chair while in there but hey it had a door. It also had an Einstin poster, lol. You see this is where keeping an open mind is helpful. I knew once we moved I would no longer be able to have a dedicated space with a door, even if it was a closet. So what did I do? First, I altered how/what kind of work I accepted within my business.
At the time of the closet fiasco I was working with live clients weekly. This means holding meetings and making lots of phone calls. Once I knew my space was going to change and I had to move, I gave my clients notice that I was no longer able to provide those services. Strangely, in the midst of this happening I always began to lose my hearing which also made for even more interesting shenanigans.
So once I had that all figured out, I decided I need to be open minded and make some biz positive decisions in order to make this work. So what positive things could I implement to make this space stuff work in our new, even smaller home?
I learned that the key is not getting caught up on the logistics, that if you want something to work, make it work for you.
To do this, I made several biz positive decisions to get my creative juices fired up...
- I have a centralized desk, my go to spot when I need to do some planning, email checking etc. This houses my Laptop and second LCD screen. My desk contains all of my work necessities like my scheduling planner, pens/pencils, locked files.
- I have a lap desk, that I can carry anywhere in the house. Most often it's the couch or the upstairs master bedroom.
- I also have a front patio with a table that I can work from if needed.
- Our complex has a park with benches, I can take Papaya outside to play and work 5 feet from her anytime.
Not too shabby for a girl without an office eh? So that is 4 different places I can work from without even leaving my general area. Want to be more creative? Sometimes I throw these options into the mix. Some people say this defeats the purpose of working from 'home' but I disagree. If you run a business from home, home can be anywhere you please when it comes to actually office space. So yeah, technically you can call these next places working from wherever my heart desires. These options do require you to have a laptop or other device so you can work remotely. I usually grab my personal wifi, laptop and Ipad and go!
- Budget in a coworking spot. Coworking is a great way to get out of your element and get into a semi-professional office space. In our town we have Mojo Coworking and I plan on getting a monthly membership soon. They have several desk options available from cafe style to private offices. They also have super high speed internet and electric for you to charge your devices at all stations. They have A/C, a shared kitchen and usually have free coffee/tea/water. This place is so cool looking that I almost want to just rent an office here for infinity.
- Need a free option? Try working from a cafe. I know that this can sometimes seem like an indulgence. You pay for a latte and sip on it as long as you can in order to feel justified for taking up space. This is also getting harder in larger cities as some are limiting your laptop time to 30 minutes so keep that in mind. There are also cafe's that welcome laptop patrons and offer you an office away from home with no strings attached. Sometimes I throw this option in the mix when I need to be extra creative as background noise is sometimes amazing for planning.
- Kids home? Try finding a kids indoor play place that offers wifi. Keep in mind if your kids need to be watched, you won't get much work done believe me. This option rarely works for us as my daughter likes to pick fights with other kids and I really prefer to interact with her at places like this. More on this in the next blog.
- Hit up the library. This is one of the best free options out there. The library is my go to place for a quiet, peaceful atmosphere.
- Work from a friends home. I've done this before, several times. I have friends who have day jobs who offer up their offices often in exchange for dog walking or computer work ( or just because ). This is one of my favorites as it gets me out of my house, into a space where I know I can concentrate.
- Use your gym membership for more than just working out. Now this one to me is completely ingenious! We have a family membership to a very large family type gym in the area. I actually used to work there in the IT dept and saw an old coworker one day while going in to workout. She reminded me that they have a common area with tables and free wifi ( That I installed myself, so I know that it is not only VERY secure, I also know the speed which is super sonic fast ) and when I complained about feeling cooped up she suggested I just go there and work! I couldn't believe I never thought about this! They even have two hours of free daycare available everyday and they don't care if you are working out or just working from their little cafe.
So now I've given you 10 options that I use in order to make my seemingly non-existent business space, work. I pretty much juggle these most days and I have to say, and the bonus is it helps me be more creative. I love getting to see other people or scenery without being tied to some florescent lit cubicle. If you are more of the same routine every day kind of person, pick two options and rotate them or use one as a backup on days when you need it.
Trust me, it's workable, doable and there is never any reason to say you can't run a home biz because you don't have the space. Do you think any of these options could work for you?