Treating your creative work with the attention and care of any other business venture can help improve both your work habits and work-life balance. Reorganizing your home office may not be the most fun thing on your to-do list, but it can have some big results. Bryn Huntpalmer of Modernize shares some lessons she learned from her recent reorganization project.
Being a creative person and being well organized don’t always go hand in hand. Toss in two small children and an office nook rather than a dedicated room, and maintaining order can be virtually impossible. That was the story of my life when I first started recording The Birth Hour podcast a year ago. Between the steady stream of squealing interruptions and chronic back pain, I knew that a change to my home office had to happen. It was the only way this venture could be productive.
Little did I know just how much this reorganization would positively affect my health and state of mind.
Comfort is Key
Some days I feel like a 30-year-old person trapped in a much, much older body. For the past decade I've struggled with back pain, so sitting down to work for hours at a time can be sheer agony. I had no idea how successful this project would be when I first started it with my husband, Richard, and because we didn't have a workflow in place, recording and editing was all done from the comforts (or lack thereof) of our dining room table. It became clear pretty quickly that this wasn’t a long term solution as the podcast took off.
For me, relief has come in the form of a sit-stand desk which allows me the freedom to move as needed. Combine that with my anti-fatigue mat and my back is a much happier at the end of the day.
Moral of the story: Just because a traditional desk and chair setup works for some people, it doesn’t mean that it'll work for you. Take the time to listen to your own body and find what meets your needs. This is especially important if you'll be doing repetitive tasks or stuck in a single position for long periods of time while you work.
Versatility Is Important
But maybe what works best for you isn’t ideal for your spouse or business partner. Since both Richard and I split time editing each episode, we had to have an office space that met both of our needs. Thankfully, the market is full of options that do just that. If your home office is used by several people, make sure that versatility is an option, and that each change can be made with ease. Let’s be honest, if it's cumbersome to change your stool from table height to bar height, you are never going to do it.
Perks Are Essential
Everything now seems to have a special feature that differentiates it from its competition. For us, it was microphones. Obviously we needed one that would provide us with the best sound quality and clarity, but beyond that, was there anything else that we couldn’t live without? Turns out there was! Having a mute button was one of those simple perks that I hadn’t thought I would use very much. That was until I did my first interview with my new microphone and I no longer had to attempt to silently take a sip of water while a mom spoke about her birth experiences. I’ve now come to realize that those perks can really make the difference between a product being OK versus one you can’t live without.
When you're starting a new project, usually the last thing you want to do is spend more money. While that urge is important to keep you from going bankrupt, every once in a while you should treat yourself and upgrade that piece of equipment or software you've been eyeing. Usually the time savings and improved quality you get from better gear will pay for itself pretty quickly.
Rules Make Life Easier
Speaking of can’t live without essentials, rules are necessary. Some rules I set for myself - like not reading or responding to texts while I work. Others are rules I set for my children - like never digging in my desk drawer.
Since I work full-time for Modernize and balance that with the podcast, it’s really important that I’m diligent in managing my time. I use a tool called Rescue Time to keep track of how many hours are spent on each task and it has been a real eye opener. If I notice that I’m not being efficient in one area, I make it a point to fix it sooner rather than later. Boundaries and a few helpful tools have made life easier and my time more productive.
Respect Your Work
None of us choose to start an artistic business lightly. Give your home office reorganization the same thoughtful attention. Take the time to find the gear and tech that you need, and you'll put together a home office that meets your needs and helps you succeed. At the same time, don't be afraid to make changes or even take a step back and evaluate whether your space is affecting your productivity. It might be that you simply need a reboot by spending a couple afternoons a week at a local coffee shop or inviting a fellow entrepreneur over for a coworking session.
Whether you're fueled by your space, or the people around you, take the time to create the optimal working environment so you can focus on the important stuff - your business!
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, she hosts a birth stories podcast called The Birth Hour.