By August 7, 2013 Read More →

Mobile working at home

Writer Fiona Phillips on how mobile working fits round her family life

Mobile working from home - Fiona PhillipsWhat does working from home mean for you? A dedicated office? A set routine? Nine to five hours without the commute? For Fiona, working from home means a flexible routine and mobile working anywhere from the sofa to the garden:

Back in 1997, I wrote the first play that would lead to a career in script writing and the forming of my business, Murdering The Text. Life back then was simple. I had my own flat which remained as tidy as I chose it to be. I had a regular job which I left behind each night. I had no real considerations other than my own needs and wants.

Five years later, everything had changed. My business was up and running. I was in a solid relationship and my first child was born that year. Life was over-brimming with colour and complications. I had moved house three times. The next five years would see another five house moves, plus the birth of another child.

Life was and is in a constant state of flux, and I love it. I long ago relinquished the need for a desk and a nine to five routine. Instead, I’ve developed a number of strategies that give order to my seeming chaos and allow for successful mobile working.

1. A flexible routine
: Generally, my working hours are 9.30 am to 2.30 pm. While my children are at school, the house is peaceful. I can sit where I like (desk, dining table, sofa, garden). Post school run Monday morning is blissful – coffee, emails, looking over my task list for the week.

There are occasions where this doesn’t happen though – one or two sick children (they have a habit of infecting each other), dental and doctor appointments, repair people for various appliances. Rather than stress over this, I move the interrupted section of my working day to the evening when my offspring are in bed.

2. I’m not tied to my desk: I have never had a dedicated office. On certain occasions, I haven’t even had a desk. What I do have is my laptop, my emergency kit (more about that later) and my brain. I can just as easily work in the garden or on the sofa as I can at my desk. The largest tie we have to the desk is a mental one.

3. Emergency kit
: Packing and unpacking with each house move (ten since 1997) has caused so many losses (for months) of important documents and supplies that I’ve developed an emergency kit. No longer do I scavenge around for a stamp, or a pad and pen. I even carry my kit with me in my handbag when I go out (you never know when a customer will call or my muse will throw me an idea for a new play). I’ll let you into what I have in my emergency kit at the end of this article.

4. Paper be gone: I’ve always dreamed of a wall of shelves for my business documents and files but alas I don’t have the wall space (or time to put up shelves). The majority of my writing and documents exists on my laptop or on my blogs. Backing up this information takes the form of a memory stick that I carry around with me, a separate hard disk and emailed copies of my work. I’m not one hundred percent paperless but I’m getting there.

5. I carry my office in my head: Or to put it another way, I’m always prepared. I keep a mental note of current projects such as customer commissioned plays. I know exactly what each of my products costs. I’m aware of what price concessions I can make to a customer. I know how long it will take to research and write a play. The details that I can’t memorise, I keep in my emergency kit.

6. My website: Within my mobile existence, there is one fixed point. Wherever I wander, my website remains visible as my online presence. It does a large part of my job for me – informing, selling, interacting – and leaves me to get on with things behind the scenes.

If your idea of hell is being tied to a desk (even if it’s your own desk), then my method of mobile working may well work for you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s the summer holiday break here and my children want me to make ice cream. I’ll write tonight.

My emergency kit:
Pencil case
Stamps and a couple of envelopes
Memory stick
List of my plays
Mobile phone (notes function, calendar for appointments, internet access and contact details).

Fi writes murder mystery plays to be used as fundraisers by amateur theatre groups, schools and small charities. Her business is called Murdering The Text.

Posted in: Home offices

3 Comments on "Mobile working at home"

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  1. Mitch says:

    Hey Fiona,
    I work from home, running my business from home and not working for an employer from home, and i proudly say i can do as much in 4 hours at home as i did in 8 hours back at work with a full time job.
    I am so much more productive working at home. No sports chatter when I’m concentrating on a task, no raffles, no gossip or company politics etc. When the work comes in, I turn it around rapidly and customers are grateful for the service. Plenty of free time for music, reading, interacting with friends. Offices are toxic.
    it is a bliss, and everyone’s dream, be happy about it. Best wishes!

  2. Tony Nguyen says:

    Fiona, I love your daily routine. This is what I’ve trying to reach for. Do what we love to do… It can’t make us become Bill Gates, but we can live happy and comfortable life, right 🙂 Thanks for great post!

  3. Mitch and Tony – thanks for the comments. Both of you sound like you have a brilliant attitude to home working. Hard work, fulfillment and time for ourselves. Not bad at all.