A ‘Sliding Doors’ day in the life of a freelance writer

15 Aug 2017


Sliding doors

Whatever you thought of the film Sliding Doors, the concept has entered popular culture and people often wonder about their own ‘Sliding Door’s moment’, i.e. if they’d have done something differently at a certain point, what would their life be like now?

Just for fun, and because it’s the silly season, we’ve decided to create our own ‘Sliding Door’s moment’, using a fictional entrepreneur we’ll call Helen – as that’s the name of the main character in the film.

Meet Helen

Helen set up her own company three months ago after being made redundant. Following a lot of discussion with her partner, James, she decided to take the risk of going it alone and set up her own company. She turned the dining room table into her ‘office’, printed some business cards and got a local company to build a website.

She’s now busy going to as many networking meetings as she can fit in to try and find clients, in between doing the morning and afternoon runs (they can no longer afford to send the kids to their breakfast and after-school clubs now that Helen has given up her full-time job).

‘Sliding Door’s moment’

Helen is on her way to a meeting to pitch for new business after dropping the kids off at school, but first she needs to buy and post a birthday card. She’s been so busy that she forgot it was her sister’s birthday until this morning… and it’s her birthday tomorrow. She pops into Hertford Post Office on Maidenhead Street, selects a nice card from the UOE Store, buys a stamp from the Post Office, then quickly scribbles a birthday greeting and posts the card on her way out.

She then goes to her client meeting and is delighted when the client offers her the work. She’s got everything she needs to make a start straight away, so goes home and logs on to her laptop. As she’s waiting for it to connect to the broadband – which has been really slow recently – she decides to put a load of washing on. As she’s collecting the dirty laundry, she tuts over the state of the kids’ bedrooms and spends a few minutes tidying up after them.

When she walks into the kitchen, she realises there’s still some washing up in the sink so thinks she might as well do it now. Then to reward herself for getting some housework done, she makes a cup of tea and sits in the living room for a few minutes checking what her friends have been up on Facebook.

She’s just thinking about whether or not to get a biscuit to dunk in her tea when the landline rings. It’s her mother. Her mother never called her during the day while she was working in an office, but thinks that now Helen’s working at home, she’ll always be free for a chat. Forty-five minutes later, Helen ends the call and realises it’s nearly time for lunch, so decides it’s not worth trying to start work now. Instead, she makes herself a sandwich and settles down on the sofa to watch a bit of daytime TV for company as she eats.

An hour later she guiltily goes to the dining room and checks her emails. Thankfully the WiFi is now working. The first email she looks at is from her new client confirming the work and the fee they’re willing to pay. It’s a good rate, so Helen knows she must do a good job. Then she remembers the washing.

After she’s hung the washing out, she checks the time and realises she hasn’t got long before she needs to pick up the kids. She tells herself that she’ll knuckle down to work later, but knows that by the time the kids have gone to bed, the last thing she’ll want to do is lock herself in the dining room and motivate herself to start work.

The alternative ‘Sliding Door’s moment’

As she arrives at the Post Office, Helen sees a large poster advertising the UOE Hub, a co-working, serviced office space above the Post Office. While she’s buying her card and stamp, she asks a member of staff about the Hub. They explain that people who run their own businesses can either rent a desk or a small office in a shared space on the first floor. Helen’s still got a few minutes before her meeting, so she goes upstairs to have a look.

There are a number of people sitting at desks and in small offices working hard. A couple are in the kitchen helping themselves to tea and coffee and talking about possible solutions to a problem one of them is having with a client.

Once Helen’s client offers her the work, she dashes home to get her laptop, then returns to the UOE Hub for a trial period.

Thanks to the high speed WiFi, it doesn’t take long for her to get online and she begins working straight away. Whilst she joins in with the office conversation – and meets one entrepreneur who has the potential to become a client – she finds it easy to be productive as everyone is working hard. There’s no phone call from her mum to interrupt her, and all thoughts of housework are pushed to the back of her mind (and it’s James’s turn to do the washing up anyway).

She takes a quick break at lunchtime to stretch her legs and buy a sandwich, but then goes back to her desk where she’s soon engrossed in her work again. By the time she needs to leave to collect the kids, she’s ahead of schedule on her workload and knows she can enjoy a relaxed evening at home without feeling guilty about her lack of productivity.

Click here to find out more about the desks and offices available at the UOE Hub, or pop into the Post Office and ask for a tour.

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