On growing up and leaving home (office)

Moving out of your home office is hard – really hard. But it’s a challenge nobody talks about. Here’s mine.

Since my last serious venture began in September 2013, I’ve been working primarily out of an office at home. This week I started moving out of home and into a more permanent space. It was far from easy.

In the last three years, while working at home, I have also been around coworking spaces. Mainly Majoran Coworking, which I joined as a casual way back at that time. I found Majoran as a result of an article in the paper, and it was a result of finding Majoran that I went to the first SouthStart Conference, and made friends with local entrepreneurs.

It’s something that was never around in the days of Metal as Fuck or Brascoe Publishing. In those days it was home office or cafes, and then beyond that just serviced offices that all seemed like ridiculous expense and no real value.

The thing I didn’t expect was that moving my home office into a more permanent space elsewhere would be hard. Suddenly I found myself confronting all sorts of objections. Things like:

  • but now the post will be just left at the door
  • but travel time is a pain
  • but I will have to spend way more time planning food and clothes and timing of things
  • but I will have way more expenses (see food, travel above)
  • but it’s distracting working among other people
  • but I’m so productive at home
  • but I can work and clean the house on my breaks and it’s so easy
  • … and so on.

But I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? It doesn’t work, so I move out again. And how much do I actually need to move to make this experiment work? One screen, a mac mini, some peripherals. Weight-wise it was less than my laptop.

(I have a giant of a laptop. It’s heavy as fuck.)

So I did. The interesting thing that I’ve found so far is that the idea of ‘permanence’ changes your experience in a coworking space. Fewer people interrupt you, you’re left alone a bit more, it’s easier to stay focused. This could be for a bunch of reasons: Hiding behind a big screen, being on a table by yourself, not looking so transient.

So far, it’s been great, but I am really feeling the change. It’s not as easy to maintain your house as well as work when you’re outside your house. Or your garden. Or to shop, or cook, or run errands, or do all the things that women do to keep a house running (in my experience, men don’t pitch in as much as they pretend to).

To keep up my daily routines and still start work by 7 am (rise, exercise, meditate, get dressed, prepare the day, etc), I also have to factor in 30-50 minutes of travel. So this means rising at 4 am, and not 5 am.

The very idea makes me uneasy, but I figure that there will be a period of adjustment until I’m used to the idea.

And there are a whole lot of great things about it, too:

  • work is really separate from home
  • work has boundaries – you go in and work, you don’t fuck about, because you have less time
  • working elsewhere forces my organisational ability to level up
  • relaxing is just way easier.

For the first time in a few years, Friday night was like the highlight of the week. Get home, throw things down, order takeaway, relax with husband. Because of working so damn hard during the week, I felt like I had earned the rest.

So, ultimately, once I’m re-adjusted and my routines have expanded a bit, I foresee only good things about working outside of home.

It’s an interesting conflict, especially when working for other people forces you to be outside your home. In that situation, working at home is like the Golden Land. But when you do work at home all the time, it can make you feel like working elsewhere is just a gigantic hassle. In fact, it can be beneficial.

In the words of my husband: ‘Work and home should be separate. It doesn’t seem right to have them in the same place.’

And you know what, to some extent he’s right.

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