This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
As we enter another period of being advised by the Government to work from home I wonder if we are getting any better at it? We should be as most people have probably worked from home more this year than ever before. Since starting A&G Grace and I both work from our own homes so we have had nearly 12 years of practice but am I any good at it?
I admire people who work from home. Well, at least I admire those that do it successfully. I sometimes find it quite difficult – it can be harder than people think. There are just so many distractions or there seem to be for me! Most people regard working from home as ‘paid retirement’. It is a place we associate with free time, with not working.
Of course, there are so many plus points about working from home:
- No commute
- No office costs
- No office politics
- Can work in your pyjamas with no make-up
- Maybe a great view
- Own food
- Take a sickie when you want
- Get to stay with your dogs (unconditional love all day)
- And maybe now we can add: Stay healthy
However, you still have to get your work done and that requires discipline. I was the child at school who was always daydreaming, gazing out the window, and not listening to the teacher. My distraction is first all the jobs around the house that need doing. Being at home you are constantly aware of them. I call it the House Admin. Since I work from home my other half feels I can always fit in all those small jobs. For example, taking the car to be serviced, taking in and collecting dry cleaning. Then there is the organising of any help that is needed for the house. For example the window cleaners and the handyman (a post I wrote some time ago explained my lack of handy husband.)
No office receptionist at home! So it’s me that has to answer the doorbell. Depending on who it is, a cup of coffee or tea may need to be made. A chat is inevitable and all of this is eating into my work time.
My saviour is my ongoing To Do List. I love this list and have been known to do something not on my list so I then add it just so I can cross it off! At the end of the day a longer list with everything ticked is so satisfying! But what is it about working from home that there seem to be so many things to do around the house? If I left for work at 8.00am I would probably forget about them or not notice them. Then in the evening a glass of wine and a box set would seem a happier alternative to doing housework or clearing out the garage.
Food is also my downfall or rather constant snacking. I think I need a timer lock on my fridge which only allows it to open at certain restricted times. ‘Just one piece of toast before I begin work’ is a mantra that sings in my head more often than is healthy.
When you do sit down at your computer there are all those emails that pop into your inbox. The blue dots, indicating unread, just cannot be ignored. How often have you received an email which includes a teasing headline and a link to be clicked on? Once clicked you are on a tempting website. There are so many things baiting you to purchase, or articles to read which distract you.
I clearly have no willpower and distraction is one of my weaknesses. Maybe it is that I am better at working under pressure. If I have a deadline I do get it done, maybe by the seat of my pants. Why don’t I get it all done when I have a free day with nothing in my diary. But those are the worst days because I love to potter. A long dog walk or a coffee with my neighbour who now lives on her own and enjoys some company is preferable to work. Another distraction is planning a holiday which involves lots of internet searching. I must have so many holidays planned in my head but never get around to doing them especially with these last two years of Covid. It’s probably the bank balance that also doesn’t allow it!
Then of course if you work from home your weekends are spent still in ‘the office’. It is always harder to switch off. Though it does give you the opportunity to get ahead for the coming week. If your husband is a sportaholic and you don’t fancy 6 hours of non-stop TV sport on a Sunday then a bit of extra work is preferable.
I would not swap it for an oxygen-deprived and boss-infected city-centre office. So I am counting my lucky stars and trying hard this morning. I have two distractions: to not eat the remains of the coffee cake I made this weekend or to take the dogs on that really long walk across the Chilterns.