Are you a freelancer? Here’s how to make that workspace at home work well for you

Working at a desk took a new meaning for senior writer and editor Chinmayee Manjunath when she went freelance a few years ago. Discover how she anchors her life to her desk, along with our styling ideas needed to personalise a workspace

I have always had a desk. 

As a family, we moved homes a lot, shifting across cities and countries nearly every year. As a shy, anxious child, my room was my sanctuary in each of the houses where I lived. And at the heart of every room was my desk. 

When I was very little, it was usually a low table on which my schoolbooks were stacked, and where I did my homework or sat down to draw. As I grew older, my parents would let me pick a desk of my own; I tended to choose an oversized one with lots of storage. It was the place at which I preferred to study and write; and read as well—chair pushed back, feet up on the table, with Alanis Morissette playing in the background. I almost always had a corkboard on the wall in front of it, covered with photographs, postcards and bits of text from poems or books. I would stash journals filled with teenage angst in drawers. For decades, I collected letters and birthday cards from friends in IKEA boxes that I stacked under the table.

My desk has always been the place at which to make sense of the world, and of myself.

So, in 2013, when I made the decision to work for myself, and from home, having a workspace was the most important thing. Luckily, we were renting a flat that had a built-in desk in the bedroom. It had clearly been made for a teenager—I never managed to fully erase the Spiderman stickers from the insides of its cabinet doors—but it would do for me.  

After a decade working in newsrooms in which desks are not always sacrosanct, having my own workspace in my house felt like a little piece of heaven. When we moved homes after two years, I decided to experiment with the idea of not restricting myself to a corner of the house. I chose, instead, to work at the dining table or turn a tall end table into a makeshift desk in the living room for some months, but I missed having the fulcrum of a workspace. I bought a desk made of dark wood and created my little sanctuary by the bedroom window. Now, on the verge of moving again, I find myself trying to identify a workspace in the flats we see while house-hunting. I don’t mind the process of moving house—it presents an opportunity to start over—but I have to be anchored by my desk. 

And now, six years after I began working for myself, these are the principles I follow when I make a corner of my home into a workspace:
1.    Choose a spot that gets as much natural light as possible. I always prefer working by a window. If the desk is large enough, a lamp is a
        good idea.
2.    Make the space pretty. Fresh flowers are a necessity for me; I keep it simple—sometimes with just a posy of desi gulabs or hibiscus.
        Plants—especially succulents or money plants—are good ways of adding a bit of freshness too. Small totems are lovely, as are
        pieces of art or posters on the wall.
3.    Treat your workspace as sacred. I journal at my desk every morning. I start and end my workday with a quick round of meditation.
        On my desk is a little plate on which I keep crystals—malachite, black obsidian and citrine are my preferred combination right now.
        Have on hand whatever makes you feel grounded and steady.
4.    Keep it as organised and neat as you can. I rely on boxes and folders for this. Once a month, I declutter.
5.    Create rituals and routines that help you draw boundaries between work and life. When you work from home, this can be tricky,
       especially in a city like Mumbai where flats are not very large; the room in which I work is also where I conduct much of my life. So,
       I decide what time to start work every day and don’t use my desk before that. It is not a resting place for my handbag or keys. I try
       not to fling things onto my chair. And, in that spirit, when I am done with work every day, I switch off my laptop, clean up my desk,
       decide what time to start work the next morning and leave the room for a bit. 

If you’re a freelancer who makes do with whatever space she can find—bed space, floor space, ‘laptop literally on your lap’ space—to get work done at home, it’s time you invested in a good desk. Scroll down for everything you need to add a personal touch to your working space at home.

Chinmayee Manjunath is a content coach and book sherpa, who helps people tell a better story and master the mix of content and commerce.

 

Styled/Produced By: Shreya Bhimani

Stylist

Written by: Chinmayee Manjunath

Guest Contributor

Photography by: Prachi Damle

Photographer

BH Shop
30 May 2019

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