En Route to Saenthood:

#8 The Kitchen Table

This series is about what I’m learning, observing and experiencing while building my startup Saent (pronounce “Saint”). The good, the bad and especially the ugly, each time in under 500 words.

This serves as my “kitchen table” at home, with a nice view of Beijing.

Great companies are usually born in garages and on kitchen tables (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon). But besides treading in the footsteps of giants, I have some other reasons for working from home.

Money
Saving money on office rent is a crucial one. When bootstrapping a startup, every penny counts. My kitchen table is already paid for.

Freedom of location
No office, means working from anywhere. If I can work from my kitchen table, I can also work from a coffee shop. Someone’s else’s office. A beach.

No 9 to 5
I can work immediately when I get up. I can work at night. I can easily take a break and go to the gym. I also spare myself a commute, which is not only a time-saver, but good for my well-being:

“It’s much easier to adapt to things that stay constant than to things that change. So we adapt quickly to the joy of a larger house, because the house is exactly the same size every time. But we find it difficult to adapt to commuting by car, because every day is a slightly new form of misery.” - Daniel Gilbert, in “Why Remote Working Works”.

But stop. There are disadvantages, I admit.

Staring at the wall
It can be demotivating to spend entire days in the same place. To counter this, I’ve developed several strategies:

  1. Alter between kitchen table and desk in the living room.
  2. Work from a coffeeshop at least 90 minutes per day.
  3. Go for walks (either as a break, or as a mode of transport).
  4. Break my days with reading and going to the gym.

Lonely
I don’t need other people around me to feel motivated to work. Still, talking with others helps to stay inspired. Meetup turned out to be the perfect companion. It offers get-togethers on almost any topic in cities around the world.

Using a timer
When nobody else tells you to stop or start on a specific task, it can be good to impose some limits yourself. Dedicating blocks of time to activities, ensures you work on the right stuff.

I’m working, honey
When you have other people living with you (wife, roommates, kids), it can be hard for them to grasp being at home doesn’t equal being available.

My girlfriend has given me displeased looks when I refused to do grocery shopping at 2:30 pm on a Tuesday, while I have given her displeased looks in return, just for asking.

Making clear agreements with those around you is important to keep you focused and avoid misunderstandings. Work in a separate room, put something on your desk which indicates your busy (hint: Saent), or simply agree certain hours are off limits.

I’ve now been working from home for six months. The plan is to keep it up as long as possible… How big an organization can you grow and manage from your kitchen table? Stay tuned ☺


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