I just got back from a trip to Singapore. While I was there I had the pleasure of hanging out with James Teo who is the one-man force behind Ampulets Design. James established the studio in 2006 and has since gone on to collaborate with writers, photographers and interactive designers in a range of projects for print, web as well as environmental design. Just before heading out for a dinner filled with spicy stingray, mutton satays and Chinese carrot cake, James and I had a few minutes to talk about the joys and frustrations of working from home.
What challenges have you faced working from home? In the beginning, I really missed having colleagues to share and bounce ideas off with. Or even folks you chat with in the pantry or by the photocopy machine! It’s something I still miss. But I’ve learnt to get around this by consciously blocking off time during the week to head out and meet up with friends for lunch or a drink. I’ve also found a group of friends who are also doing creative work and are either working from home or heading their own small offices. They are like my virtual “colleagues”.
Working from home, there’s also very little to demarcate “work time” from the rest of life, so it is very tempting to let one flow into the other. So even the”ritual” of dressing up and going to work shouldn’t be undermined, something I try to do, even if it means discriminating between “work” and “off-work” T-shirts.
Do you use any software/tools to keep your computer organized or help you work more efficiently? I am very old-skool in this area. I write a to-do list every night or early in the morning before I start work. I have a shelf of paper stock and print samples that I’ve organised by size into boxes of swatches, cards and brochures for quick reference. For workflow and accounts, I rely on my wife (aka my “secretary”). She keeps everything in order using mostly spreadsheets. But I’m considering Studiometry (introduced by a fellow designer) to help with workflow, timeline and accounting, especially if the studio expands.