How a $500 Home Office Changed My Life
Article by Fiona Tapp
My writing career started as a creative hobby in addition to my full-time childcare role. Then it became a nice little side hustle, complete with perks like products to review and free tickets to events. As I invested more time in monetizing my words, I coincidently lost 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 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 in bed became unmanageable.
First, it was just uncomfortable. My legs and back would be crying out after six hours of writing hunched over in my bed without any ergonomic support. Second, and more importantly, I felt like I wasn’t taking my new business seriously. Writing 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. I was going to treat myself like a creative professional rather than 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 Scandinavian big-box 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. I busied myself with a more creative project: painting individual letters in all my favorite colors and gluing 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.
Sitting down at my new desk with all my pretty things around me and my inspirational notes tacked up made me like a real writer. 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 intended to follow my 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 sat at my new desk, coffee mug in hand, I felt productive and energetic. It was like my 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 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 working hard into the early morning hours. My desk helps me treat my writing like the business that it is, rather than an obsession that leaves little room for the other areas of my life that deserve attention.
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 sometimes feel overburdened.
Setting work times when I would sit down at my desk to write for hire initially worried me. 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 more quickly 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 wrote parked in front of the TV.
My desk is one of my favorite spots in my home, and it is the only space I’m able to designate as a “no-child zone.” My son has respected my rule. He 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 terms of the projects and assignments 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 take myself seriously and value my personal time. My office has reminded me that although I work from home, it’s still work.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Fiona Tapp is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, HuffPost, New York Post, Parent.co., SheKnows, and other publications. She is an expert in the field of pedagogy and a teacher of 13 years. She holds a master’s degree in education. She writes about a variety of topics, including parenting, education, and travel. Fiona is a Brit abroad, and when she’s not writing, she enjoys thunderstorms and making playdough cars with her toddler.