Timothy Dahl has been blogging every day since 2005 “which in relative terms isn’t very long but sometimes seems like forever.” His home improvement blog Charles & Hudson offers great practical advice on everything from insulation to updating a kitchen with wall tattoos.
How long have you worked from home…and where is ‘home’? I’ve always had a home office but I’ve only been working full-time from home this past year. Laura (my wife) and I moved from NYC last year and our home office there consisted of a 5-ft tall loft area in our 1-bedroom apartment. We called it our “John Malkovich Loft”. You couldn’t stand up (unless you were short) but we managed to wrestle a desk and chair up there and when seated it was a workable space although a bit claustrophobic.
We now rent a small bungalow in West Los Angeles that’s about 900 sqft and since we both work from home it was imperative we had a bit more space. Fortunately this property has a separate building in the back which serves as Laura’s fashion design studio and I use the second bedroom as my main office. I’ve also carved out a couple spots in our back yard that work great and given the incredible weather in Southern California we can use almost year-round.
Utilizing our indoor outdoor space breaks up the workday and nothing beats fetch with the dog or 5 minute breaks on a speed bag to get you revved up again.
What does an average work day involve? I’ve been running the home improvement blog Charles & Hudson for about 5 years now and early on my work consisted of simply writing and publishing posts every day of the week (tougher than it sounds). As C&H has grown into a larger network that now totals 6 websites, my work day encompasses not only writing/publishing but everything else that comes with building a business. I typically start the day with reading and answering email. I write and publish content for the next day in the afternoon/evening and set a good portion of the posts to publish at 8am EST the following day time which alleviates me from waking up at 5am or earlier to catch the East coast readers. Posts are still published throughout the day by myself or team of contributors.
Lately I’ve made more of an effort to network with fellow bloggers and industry folks by attending home related events such as the International Builders’ Show and Kitchen and Bath show. Working from home is great but it’s just as important to shake some hands and connect with people in-person.
Is there any form of technology that really helps you with your work? Although it’s been around for awhile, wireless internet access really changed everything. Working remotely from a library or cafe was always possible but you couldn’t publish or read real-time content.
What I can’t do without is GPS and the flow of innovative applications that have taken advantage of this technology that now fits in the palm of your hand. Google’s streetview and Yelp’s monocle (on their iPhone app) still blow my mind.
How do you organize your space? I’m thinking here of your physical space but also your virtual space (any particular software or program that helps keep things under control?) I keep a strong division between personal and business finances and use separate filing cabinets for each so there is absolutely no cross over. I also value proper lighting and keeping my office on dimmers but my desk illuminated by a lamp keeps me focused.
I straddle the PC/Mac world and find benefits for using both. It has come to my attention that I use about 10 different Google products which at times is comforting and convenient but also extremely scary.
The following programs are almost always open on my computer desktop: Thunderbird, Tweetdeck, Photoshop, Firefox, Notepad or Textedit and Trillian.
What item from your desktop/office can you not do without? A good chair. I could work from a slab of plywood as a desk but an uncomfortable chair impacts all of my work. A neighbor in New York was selling a set of Knoll Pollock chairs and we couldn’t resist. I’ve struggled with one too many crappy desk chairs from Staples that fall apart after 6-months.
What inspires you? People and places. Observing people working towards a goal whether it be an entrepreneur bringing a product to market or one of the kids I coach in lacrosse working on throwing with their off-hand. People focused on their goals and their journeys inspire me.
I recently spent some time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and our job site manager and my fellow volunteers were a great source of inspiration. It felt great knowing we were all working together for a common goal that wasn’t about succeeding in our careers or making money but leaving a lasting impression on a family for years to come.
Travel is also huge source of inspiration and I’ve been fortunate to spend time in areas around the world. I also realize there is still so much to discover, not only abroad but across our own country. If travel can be wrapped into outdoor pursuits such as hiking or snowboarding, even better.