Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Setting Boundaries - The Studio is Open... or Closed?

When we moved into our new house in late June, I was stoked that I would have a studio with, among other wonderful features, doors that close… !

I mentioned this more than once while chatting with collectors, friends and fellow artists – it seemed most people thought that my excitement about the doors stemmed from the fact that I had an urge to go inside and close the doors – sending a signal that “mommy is working, leave me be!”

It’s amazing how many times I heard that idea stated to me when I raved about my closing doors. However, the real reason I am excited about my lovely studio with closing doors is for the blessing of being able to CLOSE my office – CLOSE my studio, CLOSE my option to work!

No urge to lock others out of the studio (as a matter of fact, I love to work while my children bumble in and out), but to lock ME out of the studio!

I find one of the hardest parts of working at home is the “obviousness” of how much work needs to be done – you can never escape it. Every time you walk past your work area you are reminded of that email you need to send, that painting that needs photographing, that composition that needs ‘just a little something more’.

I have always struggled with the ability to set boundaries for myself – and I have been self-employed and working from a home office for
almost seven years.

That is seven years of work, work, work (more so, of course, before the kids were born).

“Sure I’ll make dinner, just let me quickly list this on Etsy.”

“Sure I’ll read you that book, I’m going to just real quick check my email.”

“Yes, I’m coming! I just need to upload these pages to my website!”

Now, I’m not saying that this is necessarily (always) a bad thing – I am proud of the way I am able to use my time without procrastinating or wasting much of it (see an upcoming post about Procrastination, coming soon).

BUT… My personal life does pay.

So, one of my first purchases when we moved into our new house was going to be an “OPEN/CLOSED” sign for the studio – something I could set to tell MYSELF when I could and could NOT enter the work space.

That was the real reason I was ecstatic about having a studio with doors.

Last weekend, my son and I decided to play with Sculpey (wonderful sculpting medium by the way) and I made my sign!

It was fun and he enjoyed taking photos of the process. I crafted the letters from Sculpey, baked them, painted them, mounted them to a painted board and glued on a ribbon. Simple as that.

I’m happy with my sign, and happy to say that it IS helping me to set my boundaries. If I develop a respect for this little sign from the start, then I know that I will become more disciplined, thus more efficient.


How are you setting boundaries in your work/family life? Do your kids/husband frequently take a back seat to that juicy contact you met today? Does dinner burn while you are quickly sending a promo email (my hand is up)? Do you feel like your studio/office/craft area/workspace OWNS you?

It’s time to set some boundaries – work will always be there. I say this as a reminder to myself, as well.

Today, I closed my studio for the whole morning, which turned into the whole day! I just played with my three-year-old while his brother was at his first day of Kindergarten - until something pressing (in the studio) kept me from making dinner on-time!

Have a relaxing evening and REMEMBER! TWO NEW 8x8s are coming tomorrow morning!

Love & Sincerely,


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for articulating all of this Katie! As I struggle through my first year of home-based self-employment, I am understanding already what you describe. At this point, my studio/office is in the diningroom of an open-concept main floor in our crowded and busy family home. This means right in the middle of everything. It is truly inescapable (plus I'm constantly having to excavate everyone else's stuff and clean before I can get to my own work). I celebrate your door and wish you the best in your personal journey to quel those urges to work when it's family time. I fear I will never be able to resist them...but will be watching your journey for inspiration and comfort.

  2. Dear Gretel,
    thanks - it is important to note, that while you work away in your dining room/studio/office, that YOU are finding time and place to work ~ to do that which is important to you and just for you.

    Many feel they can't work til they have just the *right* space - so take comfort, my friend, that you are making magic happen despite your small space!

    Thanks so much for your note and have a wonderful weekend!

    PS: Baskets - they are my secret to less excavating and more organization... that and the "not often played with" box - but we can talk about that later :)



Thank you for your comment!
Katie m. Berggren