working from home tips from someone who turned a bus into a home office
Even if your office isn’t on four wheels, these tips will help you pep up your productivity.
Trish Martin runs Chromatical, a marketing firm for creatives and self-described “weird kids”. She also runs her business from a converted bus, which is pretty badass any way you slice it. Considering that nearly everyone is working from home these days, putting serious mileage on the wifi and trying to make their living rooms look like inner-city co-working spaces, we decided to pick Trish’s brain about working from home (WFH). Or at least, working from bus (WFB). How do we do it? What keeps us productive? What sort of gadgets and gizmos do we really need?Make a dedicated workspace
Trish says she basically converted the bus to escape the chaos of home. “I work best in silence,” she says, “I needed a space outside the house, where I wasn’t distracted by noise and our one-year-old daughter. You need that purposeful ‘Go Here Space’, where there’s a clear difference between work and home.” Trish converted a bus to find some breathing room, but that’s an extreme example. Most home offices are going to be inside your home (the clue’s in the title). The main thing is not to work from under your doona, covered in Doritos dust, or on the kitchen bench, dodging crumpets and noisy housemates. Find a workspace that’s just for you – no matter how tiny.Styling is an investment
I spend literally half my life in my office,” Trish says, “So I invested money in the bus, even for stuff I didn’t technically need – like furnishings and plants. The mental part of being surrounded by things you love is important, and being in a white room isn’t what makes me happy.” You don’t have to go wild here. Trish picked up most of the bus furniture from op shops and Facebook Marketplace (the vintage chair was only 80 bucks). Do you need colourful paint and furry walls and vintage furniture to get shit done? Well, not really. But it helps. Trish says to feel inspired, you need a space that’s inspiring. “What surrounds you affects your mood. If you’re spending all day in your office and it doesn’t inspire you, how’s that going to affect your job?Get your finances in order
Most creatives get freaked out by finances. Can’t we just make cool stuff and somehow get acquired by a big tech company? That’s how it works, right? Trish says the most important thing you can do, particularly if you’re working from home as a small business, is get your accounting and bookkeeping up to snuff. Don’t leave it till June 29 and call your accountant crying. “Finances freak me out, so I need it to be as easy as possible. Time is your most valuable asset, so you should spend it doing the things that matter most. When I started using Xero, it made everything smarter and faster. I created rules, so when payments come through to my bank account, Xero knows what to do. I don’t have to run through everything manually. That’s been a game-changer.Don’t be afraid to digitise
The thing about most creative work is that you’re limited. You’ve only got two hands and one brain, and most of the time you’re trading your time for cash, which is fine. But there are only so many hand-painted ceramics one human can churn out in 24 hours. Trish recommends digitisation and scaling, which means finding a way to make passive income online (and on the sly). “Just because you sell a product, your digital offering doesn’t have to be that product. You could sell an online course, or an e-book, or a membership program. You can teach people how to make stuff, and they’ll pay you for it. And the best part is, it doesn’t matter if you have five members or 5000 members, the actual workload is about the same. Don’t be limited by a simple web store. Think bigger.Work from anywhere
With the right tech, you can work from anywhere with almost anyone. Trish has proved this with her hybrid bus/office, but there’s nothing stopping you from working remotely in a park, or a café, or a co-working space. Especially if you need a change of scenery. “I use a laptop, a monitor and a phone – that’s it really,” Trish says. “You don’t need a heap of gadgets to work remotely. It’s that whole #laptoplifestyle thing, but without the assumption that it’s all play and no work. I still work really hard! But I get to do it where I want, in an environment I actually like.” Part of this comes down to productivity, too. You need to find a space where you can put your head down and crank out good work. For some people that’s a busy café, or their home desk, or sitting under a willow tree. For Trish, it’s a rad converted bus. To each their own, right?
These helpful tips were brought to you in partnership with our pals at Xero. Whether you lead a small team or are going it alone, Xero’s online accounting helps you do business, but better. Find out more on the Xero website.