Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I’ve been working from my home office, custom built off the side of my home for the last 15 years. Everything is there: my books, my video gear, my computers, etc. It is convenient. Its my sanctuary. I can work anytime I want, including odd hours of the night. I can go get a snack or help out with some problem with the kids just about any time.

However, I’m isolated. I don’t enjoy the buzz of a creative atmosphere. There is no “water cooler” time — unless you count finding a lost Tivo remote, or picking up a kid from school a creative refueling. Also, I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m “under networked”.

So, I’m considering a move to an office share situation, ideally one with other creatives in either graphics or video production. I can think of many positives including networking opportunities, creative energy, better focus and motivation, and human interaction. There are also negatives like not being there for an upset kid, not being able to pop into my office whenever the mood strikes and having to partition my work/personal life again after 15+ years of having them integrated.

Why now? Well, my coaches have been mentioning this as a possible action step for some time now. I’ve also become more aware of how my attention shifts throughout the day because of some very careful and detailed time logging. (On Mac, check out: http://www.timeslice.us/mac/TS3/index.html). On private forums I’ve been soliciting stories from other people who have successfully moved out of their home offices. Thanks to them, I’m starting to see how this could work.

Until now, I have been viewing the integration of my work/personal life as a good thing — but I’m starting to think that maybe it isn’t. By leaving my work at the office might I be more “present” as a dad after work? Could being out of the house give my wife more space to handle things independently and in her own way? Someone mentioned the hassle of packing up one’s things at the end of the day. But, I can see the act of preparing one’s bag (and/or memory stick!) in either direction as a way to mentally make the transition between home and work life.

Its a little scary: I’ve been working at home for so long that I don’t really know any other way. What will I use this room for if its not an office/studio? But it could be exciting. Would being in a dedicated “work environment” with other working people provide a clarity of focus that would to allow me to take my career to the next stage?

I’ve resolved to find some way to give this idea a ‘test drive’. There’s a big office 10 minutes away from here, I can start there. Then, if it looks like its working out, I’ll need to contact other creatives in the area and see if I can rent space and/or organize a new space.

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