How a $500 Home Office Changed My Life

May 22, 2017

My writing career started as an outlet, a creative hobby, in addition to my full-time childcare role. Then it became a nice little side hustle, complete with a few perks, like products to review and free tickets to events. As I invested more time in monetizing my words, coincidently I started to lose some daycare clients. My freelance writing was slowly replacing my official income, and with the start of a new calendar year, I took the plunge and made writing my full-time occupation.

I wrote in coffee shops and at the library, but mostly right in my own home, which was convenient but not always comfortable.

Working from home in your pajamas might sound like living the dream, but the truth is, once my workload increased from just a blog post or two a month to a full-time schedule, balancing my laptop on my legs on the couch or in bed became unmanageable.

Related: The Truth About Working From Home

First, it was just uncomfortable. My legs and back would be crying out after six hours of writing hunched over my bed without any ergonomic support. But second, and more important, I felt like I wasn’t taking my new business seriously. It didn’t seem like a real job if I was just doing it from the kitchen table or an armchair.

So I decided to carve out a little corner of my home for my new venture and treat myself like a creative professional rather than just a mom who got lucky with a couple of successful posts.

I began by moving the avalanche of toys left over from the closure of my daycare and assigning one corner of my dining room as my office.

I took myself down to a big box Scandinavian store and selected two white desks that made an “L” shape, fitting perfectly in the corner of the room. Assembling flat-packed furniture is definitely not my strong suit, so I left the hard work to my mother-in-law and husband, instead busying myself with a more creative project. I painted individual letters in all my favorite colors and glued them to a cute arrow sign spelling out my new mantra “H-U-S-T-L-E.”

I also purchased a matching white office chair, pink and white accessories and a new set of stationery and notebooks.

 

My desk helps me to treat my writing like the business that it is, rather than an obsession that leaves little left over for the other areas of my life that deserve attention.

 

Sitting down at my new desk, with all my pretty things around me, and my inspirational notes tacked up for emotional boosts made me like a real writer. But more than that, it made me feel like a business owner. For the first time in my life, my income earning potential was only limited by my own effort and ability. My monthly wages were only capped by just how much I was intending to follow my hustle motto.

The total cost of my new office was about $500:

  • Desk: $239.99
  • Chair: $169.99
  • Accessories: $58.72
  • Stationery: $31.59

The first morning I walked up to my new desk, coffee mug in hand, I felt productive and energetic. It was like the first day at a new job. All my resources were organized and I had a place for everything I needed. I made record time on a few lesson plans, a reported feature that I had been slow to finish, and I worked ahead on all my invoices and monthly expenses.

My desk is a home for me to work. A place I can channel my efforts and start to draw clearer boundaries between work and home. When I work from my bed or couch, I can easily forget all about the time and find myself still hard at work into the early morning hours. My desk helps me to treat my writing like the business that it is, rather than an obsession that leaves little left over for the other areas of my life that deserve attention.

 

My $500 office has more than paid for itself in the projects and assignments that I have been able to accomplish quickly.

 

I tend to approach all areas of my life with an all-or-nothing mentality. It explains why I am so passionate about the things I choose to invest my time in, but it also highlights why I am sometimes left feeling overburdened.

Setting work times when I would sit down at my desk and write for hire initially worried me as I thought I would be turning down work and that my productivity would stall. Instead, I found that when I am at my desk, I write quicker than I do anywhere else. It is quality writing time, rather than the junk food variety of output that I was capable of when I worked all hours parked in front of the TV.

My desk is one of my favorite spots in my home and the only space I’m able to designate as a “no-child zone.” My son has respected my rule that this is Mommy’s area and doesn’t even try to spin around on my swivel chair, which is a minor miracle.

My $500 office has more than paid for itself in the projects and assignments that I have been able to accomplish quickly. Its value, though, is so much more than just the boost to my bottom line. It has helped me to take myself seriously, to value my personal time and to remind me that although I work from home, it’s still work and I need my own special space to hustle.

Related: 4 Ways to Make the Hustle Feel Natural

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