There is no doubt I enjoy working from home. No office politics. No one else setting my hours.
Escaping the structure of a staffroom or office may have been one of the reasons that made working from home attractive. However, when counting flexibility as an advantage lack of structure can be a distinct disadvantage. The boundaries of work hours are difficult to maintain.
For the most part, I have absolutely no difficulty at all in motivating and disciplining myself to work from home. So much so that my home business could literally takes over my entire life if I let it. I frequently have to remind myself that my decision to work from home was supposed to enhancement of my family life.
This week has been hard one and its only Wednesday. A call from my editor on Friday meant that I worked Saturday and Sunday. My only break the ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ evening.
Monday I was at my laptop at 7 am, and I had a meeting with a friend in the hopes of chasing new work, back at the computer, university in the evening then crashing into bed. On Tuesday, I was at the laptop at 9:30 until 5:30 and then quick dash to a lecture at the university.
But its Tuesday I wanted to talk about actually. When the email came from my editor saying she was unhappy with the latest samples I had spent all weekend working on, there was no one I could talk to in the office.
When the landlord finally came round to look at the problems with the property and settled down to have a good chat about his woes, and looked at the kettle. He did not hide his shock – and quite obvious disbelief – when I told him, he could make himself a drink, do what he wanted, but I was facing a deadline and HAD to get back to the computer.
When he sent the plumber round later in the afternoon, it was the same conversation.
I think this will always be a problem. I don’t pretend to know the difficulties of being a plumber and having to work in other people’s houses. But I have been working from home for several years now, and I know the importance of keeping to office hours you have decided on for that day. I'm just grateful that I don't have to book an afternoon 'holiday' to sit at home and wait for a plumber.
I have an advantage that I don’t have to start at 9:00 am work till noon, take one hour lunch break and then work through until 5:00 pm. I can set whatever routine and structure as I like. The important thing is to be disciplined in sticking to my routine, whatever I decide it is.
I don’t like working between 3:30 and 6 pm. The children have come home, they want to talk about their day, and I’m supervising homework and making tea. Tonight I have promised that I will take the girls swimming.
So that means, I can’t have a chat with the plumber AND meet the deadline AND not have to work 3:30 to 5 pm AND go to the lecture. Now obviously if it was a friend, I may be tempted to put the kettle on. In fact an unexpected chat with a friend has sometimes increased my productivity. But I try to choose what I let distract me, I try to maintain control. The point is, things will only distract you if you let them! The interruptions made yesterday a hard day, every time you walk away from the computer it takes time to collect your thoughts again when you get back to it.