Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WRITERS - The importance of keeping to office hours.

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. 

Don't allow 'work' time to be encroached on by outside influences.

Quick Thought:
Catch Your Breath
When interrupted, it's easy to get caught up in the "rush" of the person who is interrupting, for they undoubtedly feel their request is urgent. In reality, however, most interruptions are not genuinely crisis-driven, and it can serve everyone best to take a little time before taking action.

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