By Jo Day
This post is to all the designers, programmers, illustrators, start-uppers, writers, and freelancers, who are still at home in their pyjamas, reading this while they wonder vaguely if three days without a shower is okay.
Well…three days without a shower is actually fine. I mean, I’m wearing the clothes that I slept in but I’m not at home. I’m not sure whether this is better than being at home in pyjamas, actually, but it’s important for me to have a routine, even if a routine means forcing myself out of the house before I’m properly awake or dressed. Like a lot of people, I’ve become so good at distracting myself when I try to work at home that I’m not even aware that I’m doing it, it’s like I black out and then come back to myself half an hour later, realising that I’m looking at the complete history of umbrellas while simultaneously watching videos about puppy huskies howling for the first time. (The videos, by the way, are amazing. But not so productive.)
It’s tempting to stay at home, especially now, with Berlin winter approaching, but the lure of being able to stay at home to work quickly loses its appeal to me when it’s every day, when the place that could be one of relaxation turns into my office. To try to blend the two, a working space and a living space, is hard. Suddenly, there’s the desire to watch just one episode of something, get another snack, or god, even clean.
Earning yourself a medal for leaving the house in winter to get to your coworking space.
In winter, it’s so important to suck up as much vitamin D as you possibly can, and to make a routine where you actually see daylight (even if you start questioning the definition of ‘daylight’). There’s also a sense of accomplishment from having left the house – not just because in winter it is legitimately a heroic effort that deserves a medal, but because it makes such a clear work/home divide. I need the fifteen minutes to walk to the coworking space to get myself into work mode, to enjoy the time outside and make the transition so that when I get to ESDIP I can start working straight away. If I try to work from home, this transition can take hours.
There’s no option of slacking off when you’re in a shared space – one, because as nice as the other co-workers are, they’re probably going to look at you strangely if you’re coming to your rented desk just to catch up on Netflix, and two, because it’s the whole point of making your work/home life separate, that of course you’re not going to slack off at work. If you have work time confined to your time in the coworking space, it’s means that you’ll work more diligently. There’ll be a specific time for work to be over, while if you’re working at home without this separation, there’s the urge to just do a little bit more, stay up a little later.
For mental health, especially mental health in winter in Berlin, a routine and a sense of community is important. (Even if it’s just sharing the thoughts of oh my god the sun is gone forever.) Working alone at home can quickly lead to feelings of isolation. Just because the work you do means you work alone doesn’t mean that you have to actually physically be alone.
In a coworking space you’re surrounded by people who are working really hard, and if you’re competitive, like me, it means that you work harder, just so you can feel like you’ve ‘won’. There are broad ranges of what people are working on – work for start-up companies, programming, creating art, writing, marketing, editing – but it’s generally something the people are passionate about, and are passionate about enough to talk about. You get to network in a natural way, and there are often professions or vocations that complement each other.
ESDIP ‘Upstairs’, Marie working away at her Flex Desk.
There’s a sense of camaraderie about being in a space where everyone is working and creating. (It could be that they’re also watching dog videos but as long as I think they’re working the illusion still works.) It’s about making a routine for yourself, knowing that you’ve gotten work done –not only the work itself, but getting out of the house and physically going somewhere.
Jo Day is a writer, zine maker, musician and artist living in Berlin. Jo recently released her first novel ‘A New Tense’ (we held the book launch here in ESDIP, check out the photos here!), which is up for sale on Amazon. Check out her website to learn more.
If you’re interested in coworking with us here at ESDIP, just come by anytime within the opening hours (Mon – Fri, 10 – 19h), or drop an email to hi(at)esdipberlin.com