By August 19, 2014 Read More →

Five things I can’t work without – the editor

5 things I can't work without - Karen White, White InkLast month we started this new series with VA Rebecca Harvey.

It was a popular post, generating lots of interest on Twitter.

Today editor Karen White reveals her essentials for home working.

I know there will be plenty of you who have a similar addiction to coloured pens and notebooks, myself included!

1. Coffee
Despite the health warnings to the contrary, I like to stay in the ‘coffee is good for you’ camp. If I’m working at home, I make three quarters of a cafetière (Who are they kidding that one of those makes eight cups?) at breakfast time and take it with me when I go upstairs to my office.

I usually spend the first half an hour of my day updating my work and personal Facebook pages, checking what’s been going on with Twitter and having a quick look at LinkedIn, so if the coffee pot isn’t empty by that time, it’s gone cold but I’ll still drink it. Psychologically I’m now all set for my day, and I don’t drink any more coffee after that initial fix.

2. Facebook
There’s no getting away from it – Facebook plays a big part in my working life (and, let’s be honest, my non-working life too). When I worked in an office one of the things I loved most was the interaction with others. I’m a people person.

Now I work from home in a pretty little Wiltshire village, and with no dog to walk or kids to do the school-run with, it’s just me from the time my husband goes to work in the morning until the time I go to the gym in the evening.

I’ve actually loved the peace and quiet since day one, but shortly after I’d started freelancing I set up a Facebook page for my company and started sharing tips on editing, freelancing and project management. My audience was largely my former colleagues and my best friends, but over the years that’s grown to a sizeable network of (mostly) freelancers in my field.

I try and post something every day that will be useful, and it often generates discussion, advice and support within the community. Not only does that give me interaction with others throughout the day, I know that I’m creating a resource that others find beneficial, friendly and fun. I consider it one of the biggest achievements of my working life.

3. iPhone
As someone who’s self-employed, my iPhone is definitely one of the things I can’t work without. As well as the obvious phone calls, I use it for pretty much everything else – checking emails when I’m out and about, arranging my diary, sorting out my banking, downloading and reading work files, Skyping my mum, reading my latest Kindle purchase, etc.

I’m continually amazed by technology and the speed at which things have progressed and become affordable in such a short time. I started my working life before email, and am not too young to remember carbon paper, Letraset and handwritten memos. I’m just glad that those days are behind me!

4. PC
If I had £1 for every time someone had told me to trade my desktop PC in for a Mac, I’d be able to buy myself a good few new apps for my iPhone. Yes, I love my Apple phone and tablet, but I’ve always done my ‘proper’ work on a PC and am unlikely to change that.

I’ve had my current Lenovo for just over a year, and have a great workstation setup with two 27-inch monitors – I tend to use the one directly in front of me for the document I’m working in, and the other for reference screens. I’ve got a backup drive that does its thing every night and, touch wood, have never had a major crash or loss of work.

I’ve also got a lovely light laptop that goes with me to meetings and training sessions, and – with a bit of help from my IT Director (ok, my husband) – Windows 365, the latest iOS, Dropbox, Skype and Google synch neatly across all four of my key devices.

5 things I can't work without - desk - Karen White, White Ink5. Notepad and coloured pens
Despite my passion for my iPhone and one of the things I can’t work without being my PC, I’m old-school when it comes to making notes and keeping track of my time. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved stationery and for years my most treasured possession was my set of 40 Caran d’Ache pens, which I was much better at putting into rainbow order than I was at colouring with.

These days I colour-code my projects and I’m never without a 0.5 Pilot or Muji pen, an A4 spiral-bound notebook – used for update notes, random thoughts and countless lists – and an A5 one which I use to record the time I spend on each project.

I’ve tried a number of time-tracking apps, but tend to forget to turn them on or off at the right time, or find them a bit Big Brother-like. My mum ran her own business from home as I was growing up, and I just copy her method of writing down the project, the time I start, the time I finish, and the total amount of time spent on each project during a single day. I add it all up at the end of the month and send off my invoices. Toggl, schmoggl.

work from home secrets

Karen is a freelance ELT (English Language Teaching) editor, project manager and trainer, and the face behind the White Ink Facebook page. She tweets from @karenwhiteink and enjoys a nose around Instagram.

6 Comments on "Five things I can’t work without – the editor"

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  1. That’s a great list and not so different to mine. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Bob says:

    Here’s something I discovered a year or so back and now can’t do without – plan the week ahead, capture ad-hoc notes and doodles and it’s a great mousemat too… tucks inside the front cover of a Rhodia A4 notebook too – nice combination.

    • Thanks for that link, Bob, that’s a very interesting stationery supplier I hadn’t come across before. What an inspired idea to sell a package of notebook and pen.

  3. Karen White says:

    @Fi – it’s good to know that others find it hard to give up paper and pens too. I’m so glad we’re not in a totally tech world, although I do know people who genuinely seem to be, and not all of them that much younger than me.

    @Bob – thanks for sharing that link. I’m not a huge doodler, and if I don’t keep all my notes and thoughts in the same notebook, I risk losing them! The number of times I’ve been asked to confirm something and have to look back at it to check! I’m just going to look up Rhodia notebooks too – I haven’t heard of them before.

  4. Sharon says:

    Another stationery lover! Also, someone who can’t get along with apps for time tracking etc. I think I’ve tried every one going – back to my filofax with the project management insert & to-do pages 🙂