Working with your other half

An honest account of what its like, working with my husband.

Nearly three years ago, my illustrator husband Ben was desperate to leave his 9 to 5 job in retail. My photography business was growing and I was in need of a second photographer, it just made sense for Ben to jump in and help out. He initially changed his hours to part time, before eventually taking the jump I had taken myself one year previously, and went completely self-employed, helping me with my business as well as focusing on his freelance illustration.

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We get asked on a regular basis what its like working together and we politely reply ‘oh, its great, we’re very lucky, we get to spend so much time together’ but the reality isn’t quite the same. There are many positives AND negatives to our situation and plenty of challenges we have faced along the way…

The Positives:

  • We genuinely do enjoy each others company most of the time and have found our relationship suffers with time apart
  • Both being self employed, we get to choose when we work and when we take time off, so we can schedule in quality time when needed
  • It’s great to have another person to bounce ideas off of (it can get quite lonely working from home alone)
  • We both 100% appreciate each others jobs and how hard we work as we are working towards the same goals
  • Both being creatives, we have a lot in common and can really appreciate each others interests
  • Cuddles in the office 🙂

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The Negatives:

  • Spending 24/7 with your other half can sometimes be a little suffocating, its important we have hobbies and spend time apart
  • There are times the personal/professional boundaries can be hard to keep clear (heading to a customer meeting after a row over the washing up isn’t always fun!)
  • We affect each others moods and productivity, which if one of us is in a slump can result in a unproductive few days for the both of us!
  • Both our incomes are changeable and reliant on the business, so we don’t have the reliability of one steady wage
  • All decisions are made together, big and small, and all financial decisions or purchases have to be agreed by both (making surprise gift buying a little tricky)

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While we consider ourselves very lucky to be able to work for ourselves, doing something we love, it is a constant struggle to get the right work/life balance. There is no denying that working with your spouse can quickly end the romance factor, spending many romantic evenings chatting about our accounts or brainstorming for our next styled shoot.

Our main advice would be, to have strict ‘no work chat’ nights, and time away from the office, as well as your phones.

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One of our favourite parts about working together, is that on any day, we can decide on a whim to head to the beach for a stroll or pop to the cinema together. That’s the best part, we have complete control over our lives and how we spend our time!

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Keeping Up The Motivation

Sometimes, working for yourself, it can be very hard to keep motivated. I will be honest, I’m not and never will be a morning person, so just getting out of bed can sometimes be a struggle! I have now resigned myself to the fact that this is ok, as long as I work in the evening instead and get the work done that I need to, I don’t have to be up at 7am (or even 8am) if I don’t want to. Thats the best part of being self employed, you make up the rules!

But how do I motivate myself to work and keep building my business?

  • Mondays are very important, its the start of the week and will set the tone for your week ahead and how productive you will be.
  • The first thing I do on a monday morning (around 10am) is complete my weekly planner, set out a day to day guide of what work I want to achieve, as well as add in any appointments, shoots or weddings I have booked in. Just doing this makes me feel productive and motivated, as I have already completed a task for the week!
  • As I complete each task I put a (very satisfying) big fat cross right through it, theres nothing better than completeing a list full of tasks and having a page full of scribbled out jobs to do.

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So keeping motivated day to day is not so tricky, but having long term goals and aspirations can be a far more daunting task, especially when you are making the rules up as you go and don’t have a boss giving you weekly, monthly or yearly reviews.

Again, I find the best way to get motivated and keep on track is to write it all down, every month or so I set myself monthly, 6 monthly, yearly, and 5 yearly goals. These sometimes change along the way (which is fine), for example, two years ago I wanted to set up a studio space, but as time went on I have developed my photography style and found that the studio thing just isn’t for me and the over heads of a studio space is unnecessary, considering 90% of the time I am shooting weddings. So I am now offering natural outdoor or at home shoots and plan to get together the equipment to photograph newborns here in our office.

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Its good to have future goals, but its okay if they change along the way.

Re- evaluating your goals and aspirations isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes plans change and may take you in a direction you didn’t plan on taking. But without having something to aim for in the first place, you will achieve nothing. As long as you are always looking and moving forward, opportunities will come your way. You may have to work hard and there will be times you fail or have setbacks but as long as you keep focused on moving forward and don’t let yourself get complacent, then you can achieve your goals.

My Top Tips:

  • Putting a weekly timetable together on Monday morning will help keep you on track throughout the week.
  • Writing down your goals and seeing them on paper makes them more real and even more attainable.
  • There are times I get stuck in a rut, or start to feel self doubt about my abilities, but looking back at my goals and taking small steps to achieve the smaller ones, will then motivate me to achieve the bigger ones!

 

 

How to create your perfect workspace

When working from home, having a workspace that helps you get creative and motivated is really important. Just as having a messy workspace can make you feel like you are in chaos, a tidy space can make you feel inspired, and can breed productivity.

 

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  1. Choose a colour scheme which will help you feel relaxed as well as motivated.
  2. De-clutter, keep your space as organised and as clear as possible.
  3. Add inspirational elements like a favourite quote or your fave #girlboss book.

 


What To Avoid:

  • Not enough storage; make sure you have plenty of shelving and storage for all your files and folders and keep your desktop clutter and stress free.
  • Trends that may not be around for too long; buy decor you love, not just because its the latest in-thing!
  • Direct sunlight, you need your screen or workspace facing away from the window ideally, or invest in some decent blinds to help filter the light on bright sunny days.

 

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Most of all, you need the space to work for you, theres no point in creating a beautiful space thats not usable, it needs to be as functional as it is pretty. You don’t have to be spend thousands, places like Ikea and Homesense are great for office furniture and accessories and you can slowly add extra features as you go such as lamps etc.

 

Small changes every few weeks, like moving around your shelving or adding a new quote will make you feel refreshed and love the space all over again.

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There are no rules, just experiment and find what works for you, if you find your bright, canary yellow feature wall helps you keep inspired then great. For me greens and greys are my favourite colours, but my husband loves orange.

DSC_0733His Marvel figures get his creative juices flowing, whereas I love my black and white print of Marilyn Monroe, the way the photographer uses the light inspires me to take beautiful images. We share our office, so we have divided it into different sections, to each add our own personal style and touches.

 

So create the right space for you, not the space that will get the most Instagram likes!