Shedworking On My Mind


If you work for yourself, chances are you do a lot (if not all) of your work from home. In fact if you do work 100% from a home office you probably actually have a designated office room in your house. Like with a door. I bet though, many entrepreneurs who do office in a building, “somewhere else,” still do a lot of homeworking. Except you may be doing it all willy-nilly anywhere that your laptop will plug in (or sustain a feeble charge) on dining room table, couch, floor, bed, front porch, backyard. It just comes with the territory of, well, freedom.

We are other people’s fantasy. But oh boy, do we have fantasies of our own. Or else we wouldn’t be the creative entrepreneurs (or aspiring-to-be’s). So my daydream right now is a shed. Yes, a shed. With a glass door, and a skylight, and a little slanted roof, and a little rock path from my back door and room enough for just a desk and a little space heater under my feet. Sound like a work-dream-space you could get behind?

Roald Dahl's Hut

I first latched onto this backyard “writing hut” fantasy when I was reading through the complete Roald Dahl collection of stories to my then seven-year-old over the course of a year. Every story, from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, to Matilda, to Fantastic Mr. Fox ended with a little mini-feature on Mr. Dahl in the back of the book, complete with a typical schedule of his day: walk to the writing hut in the garden, place blanket on lap, gaze at collection of curious keepsakes on sidetable, sharpen specially ordered no. 2 pencils, write for a couple hours, walk back up for lunch with family, nap, walk back to writing shed, write for two hours, take tea with family and a chocolate bar, and so on.  Then there’s a little fuzzy inset black-and-white photo of the author sitting in his little hut, and then an exterior shot of this white brick little shed with roses growing up the side. Sold.

Okay, I was semi-sold. Still felt a bit eccentric and fanciful. Then recently I picked up this book during a library trip with my family. Shedworking: The Alternative Workplace Revolution, by Alex Johnson. And you guys, this is happening everywhere. Or, by the examples in the book (and in Johnson’s shedworking blog) – from quaint little stone huts, to grass roofed cottages, to totally modern glassy boxes – it’s at least happening a lot in the UK apparently. I live in the OK. That’s Oklahoma. And a midwestern creative who tells people she wants a backyard shed that’s not for tools or yard stuff or just to store Christmas decorations, is definitely in alternative 9-to-5 working territory. 

Alex Johnson Quote A // Shedworking

Alex Johnson Quote B //  Shedworking

Psychologically, shedworking marks a clear difference between where you live and where you work – there’s no taint of work attached to any part of your home. Instead all the taint is in the shed. And going somewhere to begin your working day is important, almost a kind of ceremony. – Alex Johnson, Shedworking

Alex Johnson’s book is chock-full of fantasy fuel. Tons of sheds and little backyard escapes. Thumbing through it a couple (or ten) times with an ice tea on the back porch during one of the first sunny weekends of spring is, well, like when you were a kid plotting out your treehouse plans. But Johnson’s book also tells about so many other creatives who have worked just this way for years, and a new revolution of homeworkers or semi-homeworkers who are discovering the shedworking way of work/life... is the way.

I have to be honest I am still torn between just fantasizing and “freakin’ awesome” let’s get groundbreaking over in that corner there.  Let me add in here, that I’m not really the type to get sucked into pinning interiors, or subscribing to Dwell, or getting remodelling fever in my house. I mean, I’ve done all those things a little bit. But the more I think and talk about shedworking the less I think about the constructs of the whole thing, and the more I start wondering how many people out there right now are tucked into a shed, have turned on their space heater (it’s an unseasonably rainy, icy cold spring day here, today) and are writing, working, and forging a new way of working for themselves?

Right now my workweek “officing” routine is:
- one, maybe two “writing” days from my home office (a.k.a. the end of the dining room table that’s not dedicated to kid’s homework)
- perhaps one morning a week (like today) writing from a coffee shop
- two to three days in our Braid office at my business partner and sister Kathleen’s house, an actual working room just for us where we can work together along with our designer Kristin, while our brand designer, Liz, works solely from home, but Skypes in and chats often
- lots of meetings, about half through Skype and the other half at coffee shop
- Sunday afternoon, is yes, the afternoon I cheat and catch up on work, usually with my laptop in my bed and notes spread all around while my husband takes kids on an outing

So when would I go out to the shed? Good question. Ha. Probably in the mornings to write, then off to meetings or the Braid office. Probably in early evenings to escape the just-before-dinner craze in our house just to wrap up emails without the craze about me. And Sunday afternoon of course. Though my bedspread makes for a cozy worktable. Perhaps I don’t need it as much as I think I do. Maybe I just like the idea of LOOKING upon the shed, with the light on, glowing all cozy from within and a creative typing away from the other side of the glass door. If I’m the one in there, how can I dream about it? I can answer that. I dream about the next thing.

Do you work from home full-time, part-time? Are you actually working in a shed?! Ooh, what’s it like? Does my fantasy sound just swell... a little half-baked... or just claustrophobic and cold? Tell me more on Facebook.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

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