Lessons I Learned Working From Home

During the last month, I gained a new appreciation for those of you who work from a studio in your home. Carrie and I decided that there was no good reason for us to spend the month of July in Arizona – it’s just too hot. We rented a cabin in Eden, UT, packed our four kids and 84 lb. black lab in our Durango and headed for the mountains. While it would have been great to take a month-long vacation, as a business owner, I can’t afford to take more than a day or two off at a time. Fortunately, the wonders of modern technology make it possible to run most of my business from my laptop.

The cabin where we stayed was remote enough to prevent a cell-phone connection, but had decent wi-fi (other than some outages the last week, caused by mountain thunderstorms). I was able to call into the gallery over Google Hangouts, coordinate art installations and speak with clients and artists over the internet using Google Voice. I was able to seamlessly keep up with email, and my files were synced to my work computer through Google Drive. In other words, I was able to be at work in every way other than body while I was gone.

I have worked from home before, but usually for no more than a few hours, one or two days in a row. This was a new experience, working for such a prolonged period away from the gallery. By necessity, I quickly learned some important points that I suspect many of you already know after years of working out of  a home studio. I thought I would share a few of the most important things I learned through the experience.

The Benefits

Very quickly, I found several amazing benefits to working from home.

No Commute!

Even though our home in Phoenix isn’t too far away from the gallery, I spend at least thirty minutes each way in my daily commute – a little longer when I’m dropping kids off to school in the morning. Compared to the hours of commuting people do in LA, or on the East Coast, this probably doesn’t sound like much, but an hour a day of commuting, five or six days a week ends up eating away 260-312 hours a year. I try to take advantage of my commute time by listening to books on tape or classical music, but still, that’s a lot of time spent behind the wheel. It was great to instead walk twenty feet and be ready to work.

 

Working in Shorts

Because my internet connection was a bit too slow to do video calls, and because I wouldn’t be meeting with clients, my appearance wasn’t quite as important. Comfort became the watchword. After years and years of working in button-down and a collar, it was refreshing to relax a bit while getting stuff done.

 

Lunch with the Family

Instead of heading out to a restaurant for lunch – I got to enjoy great food with the best company in the world – my family!

 

Focus

This is going to end up in both the benefits and challenges columns. I found that I was able to get a surprising amount of work done in shorter periods because the phone wasn’t constantly ringing and I didn’t have clients walking through the door. There’s something to be said for having uninterrupted stretches of time to work on projects. Of course,  the most important work I do is interacting with clients and I would never want to give that up – July is a good month for our getaway because it’s so hot in Arizona that I wouldn’t have clients walking through the door anyway.

 

The Challenges

Just as quickly as I discovered the benefits, I also discovered the challenges inherent in working from home.

 

Focus

While I was eliminating the distractions that occur in my office at the gallery, it turns out I was really just trading them for a new set of potential distractions. There were a number of times where I found what was happening outside my window far more interesting than the computer work I was doing at my desk. Deer were plentiful in the area – I took many a break to watch them wander across the front yard.  My kids liked to ride their bikes on the long front driveway, or play frisbee on the front lawy – all right outside my window. It took every ounce of will-power to resist those distractions.

 

Naps

When I’m working at the gallery, I never feel tired – I can work for ten or twelve hours at a stretch without flagging. When working from home, however, 1:30 would roll around and I would feel my eyelids start to droop. I could hear the siren song drifting down the stairs from the bedroom, and I would feel an irresistible pull from my bed. I have to admit that there were a number of days where I simply couldn’t resist and gave in to the call and took a quick catnap.

 

Disconnection

In spite of being able to talk to the gallery at any time via internet call, chat or email, I could definitely feel the distance. I quickly began to feel I was drifting out of the loop of what was happening on a daily basis at the gallery. Of course, this being July, there actually wasn’t much going on in the gallery anyway, but it’s impossible to imagine working away from the gallery during our busy season.

 

What Helped

During my month away, I learned several things that helped me be consistent and productive during my work time.

 

Dedicated Space

While I might have been slightly more comfortable working from the dining room table, I quickly realized that the hassle of setting up my laptop and all my other tools and files and then putting it all away again for each meal was not going to be efficient. I found, instead, a quite little room – a small sun room, with a deep ledge under the window – where I was able to set up my permanent base of operations. I was able to mark this territory as mine and get everything set up just the way I wanted it. While it lacked some of the amenities of my gallery office, I had everything I needed to get my work done.

Dedicated Time (Early!)

Another huge help was to carve out dedicated time I could spend in my little office focused on work. Because this was a working vacation, I didn’t work nearly 40 hours per week, but the time I did spend working was 100% focused on work. I disciplined myself that while I was working, I would not allow any distractions to pull me away from my task at hand. I was able to tell myself that when the time was up I would be able to get up and go outside – in other words I created my own light at the end of the tunnel.

I also learned that if I could get up early and put in a few hours of work before the rest of my family was up, I would get a tremendous amount of work done and be able to have more free time to spend doing fun stuff with the kids. You might think that this has something to do with my nap urge, but truthfully, I wasn’t getting up any earlier than I do at home, I just had the advantage that everyone else was sleeping in.

 

Family Support

Another huge help was that I got the support of my family. I would let them know the day before what my work schedule looked like for a particular day, and also what my weekly schedule looked like. This way they didn’t have to wonder what I was up to and were less likely to try and tempt me with a distraction.

 

A To-Do List

In keeping with a habit I nurture at the gallery, I would always begin my day by planning out and prioritizing my tasks  using www.todoist.com. ToDoist does an amazing job of keeping me on track, and it makes it so I don’t have to waste energy trying to remember remedial tasks.

 

Getting Up to Move

Another habit I brought from the gallery was regularly getting up to move around. This was even more important when working from home because I didn’t have as many natural reasons to get up and move around. I have found it to be critical to my productivity to get up and walk around for a minute or so, every half hour. Recent research has shown that sitting for long periods can be bad for your health (http://www.npr.org/2011/04/25/135575490/sitting-all-day-worse-for-you-than-you-might-think). Just as important as movement is to physical well-being, I find regular movement is just as helpful to my concentration and focus.

 

UtahTripLest you think that I’m a workaholic and all work and no play, I want to assure you we had a great time away from home. We enjoyed long walks, biking and hiking in the cooler weather. We took day trips to area museums and to Yellowstone park. We went to the rodeo! We enjoyed every moment of our time away from home, and it was great to be able to do it while keeping up with business. The month was so successful, we’re planning to repeat it next year, though we’ll probably try a different location.

 

What Have You Learned by Working from Home?

Compared to many of you, I’m a real amateur when it comes to working from home. Many of you have had studios in your homes for years. I would love to hear what you’ve learned about working effectively from home. What are the greatest benefits and challenges you’ve seen working from home? What tips would you give to help me and others work better from home? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

 

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

51 Comments

  1. Google the health benefits of having a daily nap. There’s more to them than just catching up on a bit of sleep. You may even want to schedule them in to your daily routine. Rich

  2. I found that it is easier to set work times and keep to the schedule. Once you step away , it is difficult to go back.

  3. I really enjoyed reading your article. I have a full time job that is very physically demanding but I make time each week to work on my art. I find myself working sketches and ideas on my breaks and lunches at work so I am ready for painting on my weekends. I prefer to work early and spend up to 10 hours each weekend just painting. Not only do I carve out time for art but I too have my own space for creating it and drying time. It sounds like you and your family had a wonderful vacation and I am glad you shared this. On my vacations I spend most of my time at home with yard work, cleaning and visiting friends except in the mornings. That is the time to create!

  4. Great ideas, Jason. My Facebook friends will surely agree.
    Thank you for this reminder, since I, too, am traveling – throughout August.
    Your family must be pleased that you took time to be with them.

  5. I enjoyed your article and agree with everything you said. I have worked from home for 10 years and would like to think that I have mastered it. However, it is not for everyone. I would have to say that “staying focused” and actually working is the biggest challenge.

  6. Great blog! Working from home is not as easy as it looks . .. and I’m happy to see that you found some very positive aspects of it as well as the few that are challenging. Since I’ve had a home studio for 35 years I have found a few ways to make myself more production despite the challenges of raising a child full time and juggling the household duties. I thought when my daughter graduated and moved out last year that suddenly the sea would part and my work from home life would improve immensely! Then I started to realize that the routines I had created to manage it all were part of what was making me productive. The noise and needs of children were gone but so was the companionship. I was so used to buying and preparing food for meals that much of it went to waste and I worked longer hours but didn’t eat as healthy. Here’s what I think helped:

    1. The dog. And three cats. The cats took turns cheering me on. The dog . . . well I had to walk him 3 or 4 times a day since my studio is in the city. I have had a dog or two all my life and they set a routine for you. Who needs an alarm clock when the dog is ready to eat and go for a walk? They go anywhere with you and will hang out all day just for a smile. All artists should have a dog. If not a dog or cat then maybe a parrot.

    2. Noise. When the kids were around the noise often distracted me so I got some really good headphones. Now there is less noise inside but someone is always remodeling, garbage trucks abound, lots of jackhammering, fire trucks and sirens. In the city it never ends. Headphones and good music make a big difference. Or books on tape.

    3. Routine. I set goals for myself each week and break them down into days. But not too rigid. Artists should have some flexibility. Routines like exercising or meeting someone for lunch are great. Art is a discipline and setting aside blocks of time for it are extremely helpful.

    4. Electronic distractions. Sometimes it’s just best to turn them off.

    1. Great points Leslie – I especially agree with the advice to turn off electronic distractions. I do a lot of work on my computer, but when I’m working I turn off all of the email and social media notifications so I’m not getting pulled into those when I want to be working on something else.

  7. Hi Jason, I agree with everything you said, dedicated space/time being the biggest one for sure. Having my studio as a separate outbuilding in our yard, and having my home office in its own room with a door I can close, are crucial to my success, as is strict time management and good communication about expectations and division of labor within my family.

    I’ve worked at home as an artist since 2005, and since 2009 I’ve worked at home as an artist (as close to full-time as I can manage) while also caring for my small children–my partner works full-time outside the home. I call myself a “WAHPA,” a Work-At-Home-Parent-Artist.

    Obviously your children are older than mine (mine are now 4, and just-turned-3) and your family work-cation sounds heavenly to me! It’s not…quite…as relaxing around here. Haha! This post is a glimpse of the higher productivity I’ll have when mine are just a bit older. They require so much when they’re baby-to-preschool age!

    I made a video about this recently geared specifically towards other WAHPAs, that may be interesting to you and to the artists here who work at home while also being the primary daytime caregiver for their littles. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b35rR8ye7-U

  8. I’ve been working at home since September 1, 2009 (when, ironically, my job as gallery director ended). So I’ve been wrestling with most of the benefits and challenges of working out of the house.

    Add to that the fact that my creativity runs in at least three different directions and life definitely gets interesting.

    The biggest distractions I have are as follows. When I’m painting or drawing, I think I should be writing (I write fiction and non-fiction). When I’m writing, I think I should be doing something with the blogs.

    And there’s always that marketing.

    The thing that has worked for me is a 15-minute task list. Some things, like updating the blogs or writing articles, can be done in 15 minutes each day. I try to work at least 15 minutes on those things. I also try very hard not to go over.

    When I’m writing, I write for 30 minutes then take a 30-minute break. That worked exceedingly well throughout July, when I participated in a national writing challenge.

    When I’m painting, I try to work at least 30 minutes, but find it easy to get into the zone and lose all track of time!

    1. Carrie, your day sounds a little like mine, and doing several kinds of work is definitely a challenge. Thanks for the 15 minute idea. I’ve settled into a routine of writing at home in morning, then I go to a shared studio in an old mill building. Working with other artists energizes me.

      Jason, Before sharing a studio, the only real life human being I spoke to all week was my husband… he’s a good listener, but I need a bit more social activity.

  9. thanks for sharing, and so happy to hear you got much of your work done and was able to enjoy plenty of fun times with your family. I really liked the part about how you could not resist, the siren song drifting down from the up stairs…the urge got the best of ya. lol It’s funny that you could not resist, but it sure seems like you did a great job of balancing it out pretty well. A little cat nap no biggie …It’s part of your vacation, and yes work, but you deserve that at least….for all your hard work….thanks for sharing ….good for you…was fun to read ….oh yeah I like the part about the designated space and great you made extra time for the family by getting up earlier…cat nap lol…

  10. Jason, great article and good points for anyone thinking about a studio space at home. And it seems like you really enjoyed your vacation. Good for you and your family.

    I have tried it both ways. At one time I had my studio right on the Main Street of our town but I have to say that I was more lonely there then when I had my studio at home. Go figure. Even though my studio is in a large space at home and I shut the door, I feel more at peace there. I can get up and walk around, go downstairs and make a cup of coffee, go outside and talk to my neighbors, and like you, play with my Lab, Annie. It is so comforting to have her around. She will come up to my studio and nose the door and that means she wants to go out on the upstairs porch for awhile. The big thing with me is that I don’t have to worry whether someone is going to show up while I am gone. When I had an official space in town, I was always worried to leave because someone might show up and I would miss them so I felt trapped. I feel so much more in charge of my time at home.

    That said, I am a disciplined person. Just like you, I organize my time (not every minute) to get as much as I can done every day. Dedicated space, taking your work seriously, to-do lists, organization, these are things you must do no matter where you have your space. Never been a napper though so I don’t have to worry about that. I have talked to a lot of people about a home workplace and many people say they just aren’t disciplined enough to work out of their home. And it is good that they have found that out about themselves. But I find that I get more done when I am sheltered in my home, plus I get more free time as well. I don’t have to worry about a commute, getting all dressed up to paint, and if I don’t feel like being there I can make plans to go out for the day without worrying that someone needs to get in and look at my work.

    I love my studio in my home and wouldn’t trade it. And the added benefit of not renting space is that the money I saved on that rent, I had beautiful cupboards built in to hold my canvases and remodel my studio to fit me instead of investing money in someone else’s property. You have one added difference though. You had to juggle two spots and one was temporary so that is an added chore. My space is permanent and only one space. Everything is set up to work without too many problems. My kids are grown so I am alone during the day (except for Annie) and my time is my own.

  11. A few things that have helped me get work done at home:

    1)Baby gates and headphones

    2) Regular cycles of deadlines

    3) An awesome “art cabinet” with a place for everything (it even closes up and locks to deter curious little people and felines)

    4) A laptop for flexibility

    5) Occasional insomnia (it’s amazing how much easier it is to work when the whole house is asleep!)

  12. I just landed some dream freelance writing work and now have arm freeze. I got that before when making painting demos and relentlessly editing them for 2 weeks or more, straight. Stopping the activity for days helps, but doesn’t help to get work done. I’m not at a point where I can hire help yet.

    One thing I’ve found these last few days is that like my painting setup, I will put every color in front of me, or tool, to not minimize my options… but now with water bottles. I put 6 water bottles, that are 16.9 oz each on my desk so I know I have to drink all those by the end of the day, that way there’s no guessing at how much I have drank already, and have found that drinking this much water forces me to get up off the computer more often. At that time, I try a few pushups and would like to get a mini trampoline, as that really gets the blood flowing immediately.

    This helps, but I cannot seem to get myself to not sit Indian style in my chair. I just do it naturally to get comfortable and get really happy inside to then do my computer work. Trying to stop that, I am more irritable and find myself back resisting sitting that way again hundreds of times.

    About working from home, my stress goes down and I finally am happy and get to work on MY goals, not someone else’s. I use the computer for research, but will not use in instant messenger, and limit who I give my phone number to, so I don’t answer the phone but in a blue moon. I have a list of only one or two items to get done so it’s not overwhelming. All the rest to do is under the main list. Thanks for the todoist.com mention, but I wish they could learn to spell their name right these days, especially when so much focus is on branding.

  13. Jason, I really like getting your emails as they always have an inportant message for me. I have a very small studio in a room behind the garage which I do my small work in, cold casting metals stinks too much for anyone to be around. The proximity of this room is perfect for me but my wife wishes she had the room but my art wins over for now. I have a large studio I built for working on larger pieces but it is an hour from the house and I do not miss that drive at all even with a language tape playing. My wife and I both work from home so I very carefully stay out of her way when she is working, and it works out for both very well. I am scheduled for a surgery soon so I will use the recovery time to just sit at the table and sculpt and draw, very peacefully and hopefully I get some good things done during that time. Keep up the good work you give the art community as you are a great assett. I am redoing my website after taking your course! Thanks so much ,Derek Brooks

  14. Great blog! I would say my most difficult challenge is to stay motivated. Being alone at home can be very isolating, so I find stimulation from the internet which can be very distracting, or visiting galleries and museums. I have to set a yearly goal in order to make sure that I paint enough square inches as well as make a profit. I have an aversion to calling my love of painting a hobby so it is really important that I treat it like a business and stay professional. You have to be a self-motivator. The advantage of course if flexibility of time.

  15. Hi Jason, I like the way you have clearly sorted this change of work place so quickly. This has taken me the best part of a year to work out. After leaving a full time at a day job, working on my art at home is a real challenge. I do get more artwork done, but I find there are many more extraneous and varied interuptions than I ever had.
    By being at home, others see me as more available! Suddenly I am expected to accept more responsibility around the house, family and wider neighbourhood – be an available ear, minder, driver, shopper, companion…! I guess all in this situation sort it out to their own circumstances. I have learned to set strict but flexible limits for myself. I have to plan weekly, my particular times and days to work for that week to meet my deadlines.
    I have also found the solitude of working alone, away from a bustling work environment, has to be tempered with getting out regularly to meet with other artists and thinkers.

  16. I am in my third year of working at home, and love it! However, it has its challenges and is not for everyone. It is difficult to make others understand that I actually WORK at home, not just STAY at home. I run two businesses from here (an online graphic design business and a pottery studio), and this is the biggest challenge I’ve had. Sue hit the nail on the head! You did a very nice job of outlining the rest of the challenges and how to overcome them. Thanks for the post!

  17. Jason,
    What a wonderful blog about working at home and it is all from personal experience! I really loved reading it and I found lots of similarities except that I do not run a business in a gallery like you do. I am sure when you go back to your regular routine, you will find this time working at home to be a shot in the arm and a real motivator. Since I retired from teaching art and am now able to paint at home, my biggest challenge is isolation and focus. When I do paint though, it is for hours and hours on end even forgetting to eat. Painting in my own studio at home can feel lonely at times. I balance that with Mondays when our art group has Open Painting at our clubhouse where we go to paint and talk with other artists with no instructor. That is the fix I need. We inspire each other and fulfill the isolation issue. Just want you to know that you are doing such a good service to all artists and that it is much appreciated.

  18. You have avoided talking about one of the biggest impediments to working at home – sadly this may be primarily a woman’s problem, even in this day and age. In your description of your working vacation you are able to do all of your work and even take naps in spite of having four children on the premises. Obviously, your wife is handling the childcare responsibilities. Since you are working in the mornings, this would include getting them up, fed and dressed, and keeping them out of your way. She is probably in charge of most meals, bed-making, laundry and other housekeeping chores. She is making it possible for you to carve working time out of family time. If you were the one responsible for housework, cooking and childcare, how much time would you have been able to devote to the work?

  19. You found the secret. Getting up early and working before the rest of the world (except the animals) starts interrupting! I can get in four hours of painting every morning.

  20. Jason, this was fun to read. Interesting in that my studio and office are at home and have been for years, though I take a solo month every summer to work in our remote mountain cabin…..no cell phone, no TV but there is wifi.

    It is my sacred place. I use it to turn-off many of the “noises” of the world. I get a lot of painting and writing and reading done, plus time to just hang in the hammock and ponder the world. It is my place to rejuvenate and reflect.

    Like many things it carries the same yin-yang benefits and challenges that you articulate above. I would not trade that month in for anything!

  21. The biggest help for me was a phone system that announces who is calling. My kids (all grown and on their own) know to call me in the evening, so if its one of them calling I know I need to answer. When my husband was sick, if a Doctor called I needed to answer. So I was guilt free at letting the answering machine pick-up at any other time. – no useless interruptions. Next year, try a seaside vacation in Monterey!

  22. Jason, thanks for writing about this subject! I have worked from my home art studio for about 10 years now. Staying focused and not doing stuff around the house (laundry, dishes, cooking) has been my greatest challenge. But, I have found a few things that work:
    1) Books on tape – they make you want to be in the studio (only place I listen to them) and stay in the studio!
    2) Chocolate – I keep some dark chocolate in the studio to keep me from running downstairs to the kitchen to scrounge around for a snack!
    3) A bathroom – I am fortunate to have my own powder room attached to my studio, otherwise I would be going downstairs and then getting into the laundry or something1
    4) Sirius Satellite radio – when I’m not listening to books, I can get all kinds of entertaining (but not too distracting) programs on the radio.
    5) Deadlines – duh! Nothing works better than these! If only we could all have work that is due on a very regular basis!

  23. What a lovely post Jason, it is so wonderful you found away to have real quality time with your family and get work done. I’m happy for them and you. I love working in my home studio, small but I have found ways to make it work also.
    There is no way I miss the 2-3 hours a day commuting to a job that I used to do!

  24. Thank you for this post, Jason. I work from home, and find that my garden is my main distraction. Late nights are peaceful and quiet for me to get creative things done. I’m writing a series of children’s books, which I will illustrate, so I need that quiet time. It’s wonderful to get away from home and recharge, though, and so happy you do that. I think it makes us appreciate home more.

  25. Jason, how great to read this blog and hear about you sepending so much time with your family and yet handling what was necessary with your business. Modern technology sure is great isn’t it. I agree with all that you learned and I really enjoy my flexibility too. A schedule and a designated area are important too, I am fortunate to also have a detached studio out back and my office. Not only does it help me be more creative and regimented but I also can finish and close the door, not feeling sucked back in when I have other things to handle. You must be disciplined with yourself to work from home but also balance that with not beating yourself up for not getting more done too. I’s all about priorities and balance, and also not forgetting how important family is too. 🙂

  26. I agree with Korey and Sue about the tendency for friends and family to mistake “working at home” for “available”. Kind, but firm boundaries must be set. Dorothy’s phone system solution sounds excellent for keeping phone distractions at bay.

    My own distractions can also be internal–this is the downside to having a creative mind that races, full of ideas, but often in diverging directions. I’m sure some other artists may have this problem too. My solution has been to keep what I call a “brain dump” file .

    When away from the computer, this is simply thoughts written down on a second notepad that then immediately gets tucked behind the first notepad (or sketchbook ) where ideas elated to the topic of the moment are written or sketched. On a computer, the dump file is a second word document open that also gets visually hidden away while working on the main topic. This system can include pasting links to sites you want to explore more later or simply listing anxieties related to the current project as well as writing down ideas that are off topic. It gives these things a place to be instead of having them command attention in your working memory. But it also keeps you from forgetting important but off topic information. Later, part of the routine is to sort through the brain dump file and save any relevant parts by attaching key words to them in an Evernote note.

  27. Thank you Jason, a very good article and everyone’s comments too! I have a full time job during the school year and then work at home in the afternoons and evenings and all summer. I found that I need to schedule myself- mornings I write , or do the marketing needed to promote my work. Then in the afternoons I paint. I also schedule regular exercise everyday. It varies from a gym workout to yoga to a long hike. If I do not have this I find I am much less productive, because I get up and take more mini breaks. I try and turn off all competing technology, emails, phone, social media. I do this when I give myself a food break. Then I try real hard not to get upset with myself when I don’t go according to the plan. Life has a way of happening.
    Thanks for sharing

  28. I have had a ‘home office’ for most of my career.. Sometimes I even had an office at home where I saw clients. For me , the key to being at home to work has always been having a separated space from my house and work, so that once I go into my work space, my mind shifts to work. Now I have a separate studio, and love that separateness. I don’t use a computer out there, nor do I bring my phone out there. In fact, the quieter it is, the better I like it. When I am in the house, I usually find things to do that are distracting…busy work, or cleaning house, etc. this stuff will keep me from doing my art, so it was a very disciplined practice I developed to just leave it until later. I wrote and published 2 books with this ‘practice’ and now it carries over to my studio. At one time, I had 2 kids, 2 dogs, a husband and a cat, all demanding my attention.. Closing the door to my regular life and opening the door to my career always worked well!

  29. I never get any painting done in the summers because of the kids, even though one is a college student and the other is 16 years old they still want lots of food which they seem unable to provide themselves; its a constant distraction and chore for me. So next year will be different, I will be moving myself and studio out and spending my summers in a small rural town where I can live on site. I will be home Sunday evenings through Tuesday, and I suppose during those days I will be cooking enough food for a week. Having my own business is definitely about managing everything and everyone in my life.

  30. I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that one of my greatest timesavers is the “Evernote” app. I use it to save everything rather than writing notes from informational blogs, etc. It saves me a tremendous amount of time and you can organize things in Notebooks to find things very easily. Love it.

  31. The number one thing that keeps me happily working in my home studio is satellite radio. It can be lonely at times, but it’s amazing how music can change that. Of course, lists, but I also try to keep appointments and errand-running on a certain day of the week, with four whole days dedicated to nothing but studio work. (I take frequent breaks for chores though!)

  32. I have worked at home for many years when I had my own business writing and performing one woman plays on women’s history. I found that even as a young woman I was easily distracted and unfocused. It was difficult for me to get on task and stay there and it was made worse when the children were young. I would start a task, the phone would ring, I would forget where I left off and start a new task, and get stopped by the needs of a child and so on. I finally learned to ask myself every fifteen minutes to a half hour if I was doing what I was supposed to be. If not, I had to go back to my most important task. However, I eventually realized that I didn’t have to feel terrible about not being able to stick to a schedule as long as I kept going in the right direction. For instance if I worked for an hour sewing costumes, found myself writing a new brochure a bit later, and then another hour later was busy on some other task, it really didn’t matter as long as each task eventually got finished over the course of the week and by its deadline. It has been a relief to me to continue this way of working in my art. I may spend three hours painting, an hour on the computer, eat some lunch go back to the painting for an hour, another on building canvases, then back to the computer, as long as I am working, and finishing tasks by the end of the week, I am still accomplishing my goals. I still use to do lists to make sure I finish jobs on time, but I don’t add guilt to my day over not sticking to a schedule exactly.

  33. I used to work from home as a programmer/web site designer. I learned to keep track of my activities : ) It’s amazing how many times you can run downstairs to get something. It helps to track what I’m doing. I still need to work on my self-control. I write what I do each hour. There’s no boss calling me now : ) Once I have an idea of where my time is going, I can cut out things I don’t want to waste time on. Like watching the News- they always repeat things in the evening. I also try and space out my chores so my husband has clean clothes and I get to doodle and paint.

  34. The one thing I do to help that I didn’t see mentioned is to make food that will feed myself for several meals. It’s easy for me to be distracted by meal preparation. Meals ready ahead of time helps with this.

    Thanks for the post!

  35. Because my studio has garage doors I can open in the summer, it allows me to be in and out at the same time. Once a hummingbird flew into the studio and was trying to get nectar from a painting of a hibiscus! I get so absorbed in my work that I forget to stop and go fix dinner. I can listen to music or have it be quiet. I can stop and take a break when my body needs it. I love working where I live.

  36. I truly appreciate all the sharing and vivid descriptions of making working at home/or alone possible.
    My studio is in the attic of our house. As far away as it might seem in one minute, the necessities of running the house creep up the stairs. Plus the convenience of running down the stairs to grab a little something to nibble on or an art book to motivate my creativity continue to offer further distractions that keep me away from the matter at hand — painting!
    I’ve made written notes of all the suggestions that might help me accomplish my personal artistic goals, and I thank each of you for your contributions. What a welcome relief to have insight from those who have successfully managed to work alone at at home! Congratulations to each of you!

    Thank you! And thank you Jason for opening this discussion!

  37. Hi Jason,
    I love working in my studio at home. Everything is close by. I not only have all of my painting supplies, but my computer, files, printer, etc. as well. I can do all of the business aspects of my job from one place too. The only thing that I do miss is the fellowship and creativity that I get when I occasionally am able to paint with other artists, so I’ve always tried to get together with a group to do that once a week. It’s fun to catch up and see what everyone is up to.

  38. My wife & I take 2-3 vacations a year…nice to be retired, or in my case semi.
    However, leaving my gallery unattended on the weekends is not usually an option. Mon-Thur usually slow so it is not much of an issue. I solve the weekend issue by asking artists who exhibit in the gallery to put in some volunteer time. Someone always steps up to help. They also know I can usually be reached via cell phone or email. Last week we went to Arizonia…only contact was via cell phone unless we moved to the swimming pool area to get a web connection…small price to pay…swim and listen for any notification alert on the cell phone.

  39. I find the computer to be my biggest distraction. Although I need to use it to post my photos, do my networking and FB and twitter for marketing purposes, it is a really big time suck!!

  40. My biggest distractions are the everyday things one must do to keep the frig filled and keeping the dustbunnies in the house and weeds in the garden from taking over. I’d like to hear from those of you who don’t have a spouse or hired help to take care of these things. How do you fit these things into your schedules? I like my house to be clean and the yard to be tidy. I suppose I could lighten up on these things, but it’s not likely.

  41. Also lindaleonardhughesfineart
    I find that working from home gives me the opportunity to go into my studio any time of the day or night when I have an inspiration that moves me. If I had to travel to a studio it would be much harder to do. Many pieces of work might not get done without my home studio. It is wonderful to have work so close and it such a pleasure!

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