I suppose I should write something funny about working in isolation. To be honest I have been ill for most of it so far – not desperately-not-breathing ill, more fall- asleep-in-the-afternoon- blancmange- brain kind of ill, which has been almost restful.
Of course I’ve worked at home for years and, although I like going out as much as the next person and probably more than many, I have no problem with the weird world of home working. I feel a bit ashamed that I’ve never learned a language, become amazing at yoga or found out how to cook sixty tasty things with pasta and tinned beans, instead I’ve just quietly been battling my own inertia for years.
My top tip for home working? Chill. Don’t worry about it. The world does not end if you are still working in your pjs at lunchtime. I’ve always regarded the relaxed sartorial standards of home working as one of its greatest perks. If I’m not in pjs then I never wear a garment with a waist band - it’s all comfy leisure wear or disreputable joggers – my favourite pair is at least fifteen years old and has so many holes that they are technically indecent but they are wonderfully ignorable, which is the point really. I 'team' the dodgy sweat pants with several layers of mismatched sweaters and /or sweat shirts because it’s wasteful to put the heating on for one. The combined look tends to terrify delivery men with its derangement, but I don't have to look at me so its all good. Having warm feet is vital, but that’s really the only thing that matters. I have fur lined slippers my kids bought me for my birthday. I wear them pretty well all the time I’m not in bed. There are too many days when I don’t brush my hair.
I am a slovenly kind of home worker with a relaxed attitude to domestic chores because the battle to get anything productive done uses all my energy. I have mad cleaning days when I rediscover my office floor, re-home all the mugs lurking in forgotten corners and scrub everything to within an inch of its life. It is a joy to work in an atmosphere of civilised calm but then, once I get into whatever I’m doing, chaos re-emerges, papers couple and breed over my workspace. I lose things and get angry and then return to the central battle – the effort to write something. There are worlds to explore in my own head, and the complex psychological games I play with myself to make myself create them is exhausting. I still don’t know how to do it after all this time. Every day is different even when every day is exactly the same. I wouldn’t worry about getting bored – in my experience it hardly ever happens – frustrated and furious with myself, yes often - but not bored.
Those of you new to home working may be disturbed by the odd things that happen to time – the slippages and stalls whereby, though you swear you never left your desk, you have achieved nothing except lunch, which holds a sacred space in the home worker's day ( as does a six o’ clock glass of wine, and myriad other bad coffee and chocolate consumption habits. ) Embrace it. Slow down, get distracted by the play of sunlight on the carpet, stare at a bird on a branch. These things are what life is made of. Unproductive days often prepare the ground for productive days. That looping, divergent, random thinking that comes from staring into space is your brain gearing up for something hard and maybe something wonderful.
And my final tip for home working – optimism. There are a lot of days which an unkind critic could describe as failures:dead end days when inertia wins. I don’t keep a tally. Tomorrow is going to be the day I nail it.