I have a new routine. Every Friday I drop the children at school and instead of going home to deal with the breakfast bomb, I go to my coworking space. There, with cappuccino on tap, I can work a full day from 9-5 with just my phone and laptop for company. Matt, or his folks, or my mum collect the kids from school and take care of things until I get back from work. This is progress. I wanted to show you around, and explain some of the reasons why I’m giving coworking a try.
Coworking spaces seem to be popping up all over the place. They certainly are in Reading, where I live. In a nutshell, they are hot-desking spaces where freelancers, solopreneurs and small businesses can either base themselves, or just plug in whenever suits them. I guess it’s a reflection of the changing way in which people work now, often for themselves and often remotely. Coworking provides the answer if you want flexible, sensible workspace (not a coffee shop) where you could also have meetings or interviews. And come in to contact with the odd adult human being as well.
I’ve chosen to find my hot desk each week at Spaces. Simply, it’s close to home and Ian & Luke my website gurus are based there too (Feelgood Creative, check them out). I can turn up when I like and choose anywhere to sit on the ground floor, which is all pool tables, giant Jenga and cool coffee table books. There are booths or bigger tables, but I like a booth, it’s cosier and more private.
Time and Spaces
The main reason for giving this a go, on a trial basis for now, is time. As we have no childcare in place, my only dedicated working hours each day are between 9 am and 3 pm. If you have ever tried working around school hours you will know this time vanishes. I had got to the point where I desperate to be able to focus on work for a longer stretch. Also, I have been doing a lot of weekend working which eats into family time and is a source of tension. The theory is if I can bang out a really productive working day on a Friday, I’ll feel less need to work on Saturdays and Sundays.
I have written before about my struggle to balance home with starting Not About the Kids, I call it The Squeeze click to have a read.
A room of her own
I have often thought over the past few months about the Virginia Woolf quote “a woman must have a room of her own if she is to write”. It is virtually impossible to create anything without your own space. But I would like to add, Virginia, that this room should be as far away from the washing machine, dishwasher, fridge and biscuit stash as it is possible to be. Distractions are an issue for me at home, I wear two hats there now, and it’s nice to have a small pocket of time each week where my roles are clearly separated.
Money money money
Did you know that the full quote is “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write”? Coworking is not free. I pay £109 (plus VAT) for 5 days per month. And I am still not bringing in any income from my venture. So how is this a justifiable expense? I try to make my time there count and don’t arse about. I’m not there to make mates, although I’m sure that for some lone workers the company would be welcome.
With all of the small investments I put into Not About The Kids (which are beginning to add up to a fairly moderate investment), I compare it to the cost of doing a second degree or putting money into a bricks-and-mortar business. Also, when I look at how much we spend each month on swimming lessons and the rest of it, I feel less conflicted about claiming a bit of the budget for myself. However, it is not lost on me that I am fortunate to be able to carve out a bit more space to pursue this idea of mine, and I do really need to make it pay at some point.
A day in my coworking life
My day at Spaces obviously starts with coffee. I can’t take any photographs there, so I try very hard to spend a good chunk of time writing a blog post. I also plot and plan, and make lists. It’s turning out to be a good day for thinking and prioritising work for the following week. This must be to do with the change of scenery. And do you know what? I’m exhausted at the end of each long working day I’ve had so far. I need to build my stamina back up. Those of you who follow Not About The Kids on Instagram (come and join us HERE) will find out in the coming months whether this becomes a long-term working habit.
Have you tried coworking, or are you tempted to? Ask me any questions, or share your thoughts in the comments box below. I love to chat.
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