As an avid reader of The Stylist, an aspiring columnist and therefore hang on every word of their resident contributor Lucy Mangan (not just by default, I do think she’s very good) her column this week about working from home had me sitting on the fence.
When I first read it online I couldn’t agree with her more:
Worker-from-home – know thyself. All your flaws – your inherent laziness, your tendency to procrastinate, your lack of self-discipline, of conscientiousness, your need to check with a peer or superior that what you are doing is right every 30 seconds, or whatever the grim cocktail of weaknesses an unbenevolent god saw fit to pour into your soul – are about to be revealed.
This is me! When I first started working from home (5 months ago) I was overjoyed at the prospect of no commute. No more tights, blisters in ugly ‘appropriate’ heels, black, grey or navy dresses with high necks, low hemlines or shirts that needed ironing. I had romantic images of myself squirreling away in the office (aka spare room with a desk in it) creating a masterpiece, where I would emerge 6 months later, laden down with a manuscript confident that this was my making. I had done it!
Well needless to say I’m still working on my script and find myself seeking very regular breaks/ interruptions/ distractions throughout the day. When she says: Every day becomes a war between your good and bad selves – Lucy wasn’t lying. The internet, my nemesis, my friend – it’s both brilliant and destructive. Coming up with an idea or a notion or anything that requires a little research (for the play I’m writing as part of my PhD) allows me to fully justify a necessary flutter on Google. That’s fine. It’s development. Guilt free.
What isn’t fine, is when that ‘flutter’ goes from Google Scholar, which will somehow take me to amazon, where I’ll just glance at the ‘Recommended for you’ section, then be distracted by an email about the weekend plans, which will lead to 15 minutes on ASOS, filling a basket then grumpily closing it as I can’t justify buying clothes, to then reply to the email about my dire state of finances and that I’ve got nothing to wear, which will then lead to a tweet about said desperate circumstances and then back to Google to find out where I’ll search for ‘free things to do’, then I’ll make a cup of tea, stare listlessly into the biscuit tin (that I have to keep empty to avoid ‘working from home’- induced obesity), then I’ll check the train times, and then maybe Google ‘healthy biscuit alternatives’, then I’ll check twitter again and generally end up back on The Stylist’s website because I saw a tweet about the top 5 reasons I get so hungry, or how wedding dresses made of marshmallows is the latest trend, I’ll forward the link to everyone I know that’s getting married and then the phone will ring!
So I was beginning to get myself down about the whole concept of working from home. I wasn’t entirely sure I was cut out for it. My social interaction over the course of any day that doesn’t involve any meetings or phone calls is through twitter and if I stick on Loose Women on when I’m making lunch.
I started trawling through job sites. I think I even sent my CV in to one, motivated by the sole vision of Friday night drinks and conversations with actual people, instead of listening to Carol Vorderman over a homous pitta. I doubted my ability to discipline myself to work unattended on my own projects. I also work from home as a consultant and don’t seem to have the same issues with distractions when I’m getting paid for it. Two days a week, I’m a machine. Calls, emails, proposals, presentations… no problem. The rest of the week, when I’m working on what I’m really supposed to be focusing on, the small matter of my Doctorate dissertation – and I start to fall apart at the seams!
But then it all changed.
By ‘all’ I mean the weather. I blame a lot on the weather. It’s the weather’s fault I get squidgy over Christmas. It’s to blame for me being a miserable cow from Halloween to when the clocks change for British Summer Time. It was quite clearly the weather that was distracting me from squirreling away for 6 months to create my masterpiece. The overnight change in season – the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by … a change in surface pressure, a warm front coming from the East and possibly, global warming.
Either way, working from home in the sunshine has proven to be extremely productive. I don’t know why, but sitting in the garden means I can concentrate for longer. I don’t want to hit the biscuit tin and can seem to stay still for hours on end. Maybe it’s the Vitamin D, maybe it’s because I’m in a better mood. Whatever it is, I’ve re-written a few scenes, taken a conference call, read a play, set up a few meetings for next week and I’ve managed to get this blog done too. Albeit, I’m now slightly rouge, most likely dangerously dehydrated and tend to sway more into the ‘freckle’ camp rather than ‘mahogany’, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve actually pulled my finger out, achieved something and I’ve got After Sun.
(N.B Temperature apparently set to drop next week so will report back if there is indeed a scientific correlation between productivity and the weather).
There’s nothing more satisfying on a Friday afternoon than ticking off all the actions on your ‘To Do’ list (yes, I write lists, I’m not a robot) in time to mix the Pimms and find that the commute consists of nothing other than closing the laptop and putting your feet up 🙂