Where I Work: Suzel, the stationery designer working from home with her family
As the coronavirus pandemic makes working from home the norm, our mini series Where I Work is taking you inside people’s home offices each weekday – for interiors inspo as well as to show the reality of this way of working.
We’ve been inside a home office on a houseboat, met a barefoot athlete who has no chairs, and seen how a mum has made her daughter a mini desk so she can feel involved in the working day.
Today we’re (virtually) hanging out with Suzel Selçuk, from Manchester.
Suzel runs stationery brand and online community CRAZYCREATIVECOOL, creating tools and workshops based around building self-esteem, overcoming limiting beliefs, self-care and goal setting.
She also a runs a creative studio, INNERNATURE where she offers branding and business coaching and tools, and is training to become a therapist.
Due to lockdown, she’s currently working from home with her family of six, plus her one-year-old niece and a 12-week-old puppy, Dennis.
Hey, Suzel! Has the coronavirus pandemic changed the way you work?
I’ve worked from home since I left my career in the fashion industry three years ago due to a chronic illness. Not only had I fallen out of love with fashion, I was struggling to get in work every day due to extreme fatigue and pain caused by Stage 4 endometriosis & adenomyosis.
Like many women who suffer with this disease, I found that a lot of bosses can’t understand what it’s like to live with chronic health issues and the juggling of doctors/hospital appointments, multiple surgeries and flare-ups that comes with it.
I decided to leave and started my own business as I was guaranteed an understanding boss (me!).
Coronavirus has changed things in that now, instead of just me being at home during the day, my whole family is working from home, which sometimes means a race to the best space in the house to work from.
Talk us through your working space
I have a small desk in my house which is next to the window (I need natural light to stay energised!) this is where I do most of my work but I also love working outside, even when it’s cold. There’s just something about being in fresh air that keeps my mind clear and helps ideas to flow.
At my desk, I have my Macbook, my Inspiroy tablet and about 55 notebooks.
I love art and colour, so I have prints that inspire me and uplift my mood when I look at them. Mostly they are by my favourite artist, Betusha Rapatusha, who draws a lot of nature-inspired pieces. I also love Sophie Rose Brampton’s illustrations, I worked with her on a project for CRAZYCREATIVECOOL and she drew this cool TLC inspired piece for me. She’s also the artist behind the front cover artwork of my GENTLE GOALS journal.
I’m heavily influenced by 90’s culture and used to run a 90’s inspired streetwear brand called Educate Elevate, so I have our old prints and Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing photo album on my desk, too.
I also have my notice board which is where I pin things that inspire me, previous work and notes from friends that make me smile, plus pictures of people I love.
I also have my old dog Eddie’s pawprints. I lost him last year at 17 years old and he used to be my creative companion, sitting be my feet every day while I work. Seeing this makes me feel like he is still close to me!
What’s a working day like for you?
I usually wake up between 6 and 8am, depending on how late I went to bed the night before. I’m most creative at night so I do a lot of my work between 9pm – 1am (which sounds crazy, I know) so if I’ve had a late night I’ll have a lie in the next day.
I get up, try not to look at my phone for at least the first hour I’m awake because I want my thoughts to be my own and not whatever I see online.
I make a herbal tea to kick start my energy levels and do a bit of journaling then around 20 mins of mediation. I usually use guided meditation in the morning as it helps me to feel calm and in control of my emotions. I usually exchange meditation tracks with my best friend on a daily basis, we send each other new ones to try out which is really cute and helps me feel connected to her (she lives in London and I haven’t seen her since January). If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I search Abraham Hicks on Youtube and listen to the first track that comes up, I find it usually has a relevant message for me and gives me a new perspective to start my day with.
Then I’ll do a bit of journalling, write my to-do list for the day and set up my desk. Before I start any work I always turn to Iyanla Vazant’s book Until Today, which has a really positive and inspiring daily message.
I respond to any client emails and work through any admin work first thing, I also try to do the task I’m looking forward to the least first so that it’s out of the way.
I go for a walk around 11.30 and then lunch around 1pm. If I have any orders for my products, I’ll go to the post office after lunch when it’s quieter.
Creative work usually starts in the afternoon and I can easily work through until late night depending on how in the flow I am. I’m the type of person who needs snacks to get me through the day so I break up my work with snack breaks!
Every day is different, I might be working on a client branding package or website launch with INNERNATURE, writing content for new wellness journals for CRAZYCREATIVECOOL or planning workshops.
I love the variety of my work but it can make my mind quite messy, so I find it works best for me to block similar types of work, so for example I’ll block out a full day for writing, a few days for design based work and then planning and coaching work will be blocked out together.
What are your personal rules for working from home? How do you stay focused?
Staying clutter-free helps me to stay focused, I can’t work from a messy desk!
But I am also one of those people who procrastinates by reorganising the whole room and disguising it as something that’s necessary before I start a task.
The majority of my work is creative so I have to get in the right flow before I start a task. I usually put on some binaural beats on Youtube (here’s my playlist), which are scientifically proven to increase creativity and visualisation.
I use Trello boards to organise my projects and time block tasks. I also usually put my phone on flight mode or in a totally different room so I’m not tempted to pick it up as a distraction.
For me, it’s helpful not to overwhelm myself by scheduling in too many tasks per day, I give myself a top five things I want to have completed by the end of the day and anything else is a bonus!
Staying productive and being kind to my mind need to go hand in hand, so I use my wellness wall chart to make sure I’m making my mental and physical health as much of a priority as my business.
What challenges have you faced when working from home?
The biggest challenge for me is the lack of social connection, which is strange because I love being alone and need a lot of time to myself!
But sometimes, when working from home you can go days without seeing or talking to anyone outside of your house, which for me is less about feeling lonely and more about feeling uninspired.
Generally, I love working from home as I like creating my own schedule and being able to flow with how I want to work.
The current situation hasn’t changed much for me as I’m so used to being at home but I do miss going out for longer walks and to my favourite coffee shops for a change of scenery, something I did on a weekly basis before lockdown.
What advice do you have for people new to working from home?
If you’re someone who needs to be around other people, stay connected by phone calls and FaceTime – not just Instagram or WhatsApp. It’s a different type of connection when you stay in touch with people without seeing their face or hearing their voice, it can actually make you feel more lonely and isolated! Try to fit in a catch up with a friend or family member on the phone once a day if you can.
If you’re finding it hard to focus, instead of switching on the TV, try and go for a walk or move your body. Static body = static mind!
Make yourself a healthy lunch that won’t cause a big sugar crash mid-afternoon, when you’re at home it’s too tempting to relax in front of the TV but you’ll get half as much work done, even if you convince yourself you can multitask.
Do you fancy getting involved in Where I Work? If you have a cool working space to tell us all about, email [email protected]
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