Self-employed life can be a beast. It’s an exercise in self-discipline, time management, and as one who also travels for work, an exercise in maximum efficiency. As a fulltime, stay-at-home, self-employed parent, I have multiplied the need for all of these skills by… well… something big!
Where do I work? Since planting roots in Newcastle, ON last fall, “where” has proved a challenge. The floor joists in my home are a few inches too short to prevent loud creaking noises. So there is no sneaking in my house. The creaks will come in handy if we stay here until our son Henry is a teenager, but for now my primary workspace has moved from the lovely 2nd floor office space, to a basement in progress, or plum out the front door.
When do I work? With my 17-month-old son at home, this is a great question. For many months now, I have worked mainly during the 3-hour nap Henry takes in the morning. It’s an epic nap that I am grateful for, but the problem is that EVERYTHING needs to happen in those 3 hours. Everything that requires his absence at least. Showering, unloading the dishwasher, food prep, tidying, home maintenance, personal calls & emails, business calls & emails, writing, research, social media updates, design work, packaging shipments… it’s simply not enough time.
Enter childcare. It’s still a situation on shifting sands, but between grandparents, babysitters, homecares and daycares, it’s getting sorted. I often choose to leave home to work; being away from home life, I can get SO much done. Thus, my mobile office was born.
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MY OFFICE KIT
I don’t travel light, but it’s worth it. My mobile office consists of:
laptop, keyboard, mouse, rollup mouse pad, multi-USB port, power cables for computer & phone, notebook containing all work notes, pen, pencil, skinny & thick Sharpies, 2 external hard drives containing all Good Lovelies documents, water bottle, coffee cup
It all goes into a MEC backpack, which does the job, but everything swims about in there so I am currently on the hunt for a proper briefcase with lots of compartments. I LOVE compartments. If you know of a good briefcase, drop me a line on our Facebook page, please!
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I have settled on some regular “Offices-Away”, and these are my two favourites:
COFFEE PUBLIC – PORT HOPE, ON
It’s the longest commute to factor into my day, but Coffee Public is well worth the time. The vibe is perfect, the coffee good, the food delicious, the people friendly. When I’m lucky, I get the seat in the front window, in the sun, with the charming view you see above. When I’m really lucky, someone I know comes in and I get a little social boost to my day.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY – TORONTO, ON
Once a week, my family packs into the car at 6:45am to commute into the city. Henry has an incredible home daycare where he spends valuable time playing with other kids and the incredible woman who runs it. I join my husband at his creative/film company’s (Brought To You By) office. It’s delightful! Not only do I get to work alongside Matt, which I love, I also get to spend the day with his staff. Conversation! Talking about ideas out loud! Chit chat about life! Believe it or not, this is novel at this point in my life, since I usually spend my days with a baby in a new hometown.
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Since abandoning my above-ground office space, I carved out a corner of the living room for the days I stay at home. A little wooden desk sits by the window facing our back yard, with space enough for a pared down kit, a small vase of flowers, and a coaster for coffee. I love sitting at this window (it’s where I’m sitting now) and find I’m pretty productive facing away from the rest of my house.
Half of my basement is set aside for rehearsal space. It’s wonderfully dry and spacious – a perfect place to set out my instruments so that they’re ready for me at any time. I also operate our online store out of my home, so a third corner is carved out for storage, packing and shipping.
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That’s me in a nutshell. Now, meet the Good Lovelies’ bass player Steve Zsirai, who is a working man on the move for sure.
Steve works ’round the clock running his boutique management firm, taking great care of artists like Royal Wood, Maesha Brueggergosman, Tim Abraham & Peter Katz. Based in Toronto, the management gig has him spending a lot of time in Nashville, and L.A. He also continues to tour as a bass player, which takes his office everywhere imaginable (we’re very familiar with the clickety-clack of his keyboard in the tour van). So, I asked Steve how he manages his mobile office; here’s what he had to say:
“Honestly, my mobile office schpeel is pretty short. It’s not so much about location for me, it ALL about discipline. Just figure out what needs to get done each day and do it. I’ll work anywhere really. Cafés, hotel rooms, in a parked car, or the back of the tour van. I obviously need my laptop and my cell phone (which I’ll often use to tether with my laptop). I have a sweet mobile printer as well that travels with me.
Working on the road often differs for me depending on what hat I’m wearing. If I’m touring as a bass player and tour manager, I need to be uber disciplined to fit everything in because my days are SO full. Where as if I’m on a trip to L.A. or Nashville as a manager, and my time is mostly spent in meetings, I’m able to fit it all in more manageably as I’m staying put in one city for a bit.
Whatever neighbourhood I’m in, I’ll just find a cool place to plunk down. Not rocket science, just discipline.”
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Sometimes, I miss the consistency of a 9-5 day and a single work space; most days I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We roll with the punches in the mobile world and “a change is as good as a rest”. I change my work environment as often as I change my socks – so be it.
Do you work remotely? Do you have an office kit for work on the road? Tell us about what works for you, and what pieces are essential to keep your mobile office running. What motivates you and inspires you to be productive while you’re on the move?
Whatever, and wherever your space, I hope you can make it your own.
A most productive and creative place.