Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday – if you’d like to join in, please visit Handmade Harbour for more info.
This week’s post isn’t about what I make, its about what makes it easier for me to be creative!
One of the “dread” aspects of running a small business for me is the admin – I can sense a few hands going up as this post is read too! I love to create, I love to teach and I love to be out chatting about what I do. What I struggle with is having to spend time sat in front of the computer typing away at things. I’ve been talking some things about my work life balance over with Tarryn from Mum’s Who Care and one of her challenges for me is to compile a work planner / timetable that gives me sufficient time for me and for family stuff within my working week. I realised in late June I was in danger of drowning under a sea of admin and had in some ways completely lost the plot with regards to business organisation and marketing. However I was offered the opportunity to try out a workspace away from home at the Lounge and although I was only there for half a day, my head miraculously cleared, I could shift from “worker bee” to “manager” view and sort out my workload.
On that Thursday afternoon I left with a plan – ok it was broken down in different ways across 3 note books but it was a plan! I had a to do list and everything felt managable again. As each week has progressed my Thursdays have turned into this hive of “back room” stuff. I’m in a peaceful place and I can put my head down, sort out my priorities for the week and get on with it.
My workspace at home is the family PC, in the lounge. Living in a 2 bedroom flat with no storage and having to accomodate all my disability equipment and yarns means space is at a premium. Yes I try and keep the “office” area uncluttered and try to leave things where I can pick them up easily but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Having an older teenager also means friends in and out during the summer break. And yes they can be loud and interupt my train of thought frequently, and if she’s in on her own afternoons are a mishmash of “Jeremy Vile” and American canned comedy, flicking to the Disney channel in the commercial breaks – she’s never been the sort of teenager who will happily sit in her room. So concentration and getting things done becomes a real challenge.
Working at home, can be isolating and that can block creativity for me too. Yes there’s the internet and social media but I find I get far too distracted if I pop on Facebook or Twitter if I don’t have a specific job to do. I then start clicking on links and wandering through craft sites, thinking Oooooh I could do that and end up realising an hour or two has passed and I’ve done not much of my list! What I love is working as part of a team, having people to bounce ideas off – opportunities to network and make links with people. And the Lounge also provides this – sometimes its just myself and Theresa or Terry, the dynamic duo behind the concept, but other times we have a few ladies dropping in and out – sometimes for somewhere to work in peace and quiet and others for meetings. And suddenly opportunities for exchanging ideas, networking and building links appear. Sometimes its about helping to refine ideas or thinking about having a structured business plan. Others its about finding out who’s good to approach or work with on a specific topic. And hopefully there will be times when commissions arise too! The beautiful rural setting is inspiring too and I can’t wait to see the hedgerows in Autum. I already have some ideas I want to follow up when I’m out there!
By having the Lounge as “my office” I certainly feel freer and happier at home and making has yet again become more pleasurable and from that pleasure ideas flow more easily and I can “switch off” from the admin when at home. I obviously still use the home PC and do bits and pieces here, like the books and designing publicity materials but the majority of my admin is done, the laptop which acts as my “briefcase” can be popped into its corner and the following Thursday I can trot off to the office again!