My Theatre Mates co-founder Terri Paddock moved her office to Mallorca for the past month – and got more done. Here she explains how you can do it too.
Unless you spotted my occasional beach tweets or are one of my personal Facebook friends, you may not have noticed that I’ve been away recently. My partner Peter and I spent all of June in Mallorca.
Now don’t be too jealous – and with heatwave weather like we’ve come back to here in the UK, it’s easier not to be. This was not a month-long holiday. We were working. Really and honestly with absolutely no need for “rabbit ear quotemarks around the term working.
In the time I was away, I continued to tweet and blog regularly about London theatre (even if not able to attend it), ran MyTheatreMates.com and TerriPaddock.com on a daily basis, wrote an article for The Stage, serviced (in some cases over-serviced) all of my clients, oversaw two substantial website build projects, and did lots of (so very unfun) financial and systems planning for three new businesses – amongst other things on a very long to-do list.
I also had numerous Skypes with clients and my email and Slack (for those I work with most closely) channels were open 24/7- you can always find a way to be there virtually these days – and even managed to have one face-to-face meeting, with The House of Mirrors and Hearts producer Katy Lipson, who I’m hosting a Q&A for at the Arcola Theatre next Monday (you coming?) and who happened to be on holiday in the vicinity.
You know your life is a little weird & wonderful when you’re testing #GoogleAnalytics plugins on the beach… pic.twitter.com/npWKccrMb0
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) June 18, 2015
If you follow me really closely on Twitter, you may recall that I also spent a month in Mallorca last year about the same time. Then, it was because, for legal reasons, I wasn’t allowed to do any paid work, so for my own sanity, I just had to get the hell out of Dodge, a.k.a. London’s Theatreland, for a major professional rethink and emotional regroup.
It worked a treat. I spent the time updating my skills and getting my mojo back on track. A huge help to both was a wonderful book that I read at the time, a book which was recommended to me by my friend, and now fellow theatre blogger Mate Chris Grady, and which I’ve recommended to countless people since: How to Be a Free Range Human by Marianne Cantwell.
Through a series of been-there-done-that case studies, useful self-analysis exercises and tried-and-tested tools and techniques, How to Free Range Human teaches you how to break out of the “corporate cage”. Rather than stay stuck in a job that eats away at your soul a little more every day, it enables you to identify your true strengths, passions and the lifestyle you want, and then fashion a portfolio career around them.
One of the lifestyle choices I realised for myself is this: I don’t work best (does anyone?) going in to the same desk at the same office at the same time every day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m right in there with whizzy office banter and I love feeling part of we’re-all-in-this-together kind of team.
When it comes to working environments, I believe a change, regular change, truly can be as good as a rest.
But sometimes, I’d rather be totally focused ‘in my zone’ working in my home office… or at the café down the street… or in a rehearsal room… or at the members’ lounge of the Royal Festival Hall… or at the Westminster library off Leicester Square… or at the Theatre Café… or at one of my friends’ or clients’ offices…… or on my terrace overlooking the most beautiful little village beach you’ve ever seen, in Sant Elm, Mallorca.
Over the past year, I’ve regularly worked – and thrived – in all of these places. When it comes to working environments, I believe a change, regular change, truly can be as good as a rest.
After he saw how much I accomplished last year, Peter, who is also his own boss, agreed that he’d like to give it a go this year. And so we did. Now, as we’ve come to the end of our joint experiment, we’re unanimous: we want to make Mallorca an annual secondment.
(Admittedly, we have the distinct advantage of having family-owned accommodation in Mallorca – it’s actually cheaper for us living there for a month than it is living in London. For those of you not so blessed, one word: AirBnb.)
Drawbacks? It really and truly wasn’t a holiday. In fact, on average, we worked much longer hours than we do in London. With no commutes or must-attend events, we were at our desks for more hours every day. And, of course, there was no theatre, or rather no theatre in English. (I did catch an intriguing concert at Palma’s Teatre Principal – which I just may have to blog separately about – where, at the same time as Bend It Like Beckham was opening in the West End, I missed a Spanish presentation of Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light: A Requiem by a day.)
But the pros far outweigh the cons. Peter and I got into a rhythm that meant we were able to end each day on the beach, watch the sunset across the bay, sip sangria, eat delicious food – and be inspired by our surroundings.
Plus, unlike when we normally take holidays, we didn’t experience the last-minute, must-finish-everything panic before leaving, nor the dread of the mountain of work and emails awaiting us when we get back before returning. (In fact, one of my while-away to-do list items was to clear the 5,000-message backlog in my inbox – completed on the plane home – tick!)
And today, our first day back, we are both feeling refreshed, excited to get back into the London runaround – oh my goodness, have I got a full theatre diary now, starting with tonight’s West End opening of The Importance of Being Earnest, starring David Suchet as Lady Bracknell – and totally on top of things. Well, as much as we ever are anyway!