My office doubles as my home; or the other way around. I often meet people that get overjoyed when I mention I have a very flexible schedule. I can see how their eyes fill up with satisfaction and a bit of envy. I often reply with a “It does come with its own challenges”. They don’t believe me straight away.
Making Pulp & Pith grow is a teamwork, not only with my partner in crime, but with clients and providers. It comes down to even key elements like creativity, perseverance, patience and strength - with a working laptop and a good back up drive, of course. It is a pot like in any other company. And, this one pot is full of contrasts. We go from absolute silence to resounding noise in no time. Adaptation is a must.
Working from home has taught me about my own relation with commitment, creativity, stress and most importantly, self-regulation. It has allowed me to recognise the powerful importance of having small talk while revealing the wonders of booking your personal appointments at any given time.
I often fail in following all the advice out there for people who work from home. However, I thought it would be good to 1) make my own set of advice based on my own experience, and 2) list it here for you - and me when I need a reminder!
Slowly yet steadily, I have managed to clear a room in the flat and use it almost exclusively as my office. Once I go in, the clock kicks and often when I leave work has remained there -although, I have to admit having my email linked to my phone means work is never too far. My suggestion here is: Make it comfortable. Fill it up with your personal items. And above all, make sure you expand as much as you can/need; this is entirely for you! In my case, I have arranged on the wall a portion of my large collection of postcards. These images evoke memories, journeys and dreams. I always feel I can discover more every time I look at them, and they also remind me of the immense world.
When a friend of mine started her PhD, her supervisor told her the best advice I think someone could give to a non-office worker: “Write when it rains. Stop, and get out when it is sunny. The weather will make sure you work enough”. Since then I have been obsessed with this. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t work on sunny day - I wish! But, make sure you get enough good light in wherever you work -either if you stay at home, if you go to a coffee shop, during a meeting. Good light, wether natural or artificial is key for your mood and efficiency.
I treasure down time like never before. It helps my day to end when I stop being alone. At that point, I feel there is more to life than my computer screen with its infinite possibilities of interaction and creation yet virtual and intangible at the end. I don’t personally need a strict routine, but preserving time to rest, to take proper holidays and to breath outside the work bubble is important to enjoy more when I am in work mode. For those who know me, I run my life on ‘modes’. So, yes I could not advice it in any other way. Make sure to turn off your ‘work mode' because exhaustion is its worse enemy.
Controlling your schedule sounds delightful. It also means it get full up quite easily and you also end up with dead slots of time. Not enough to dig into that new project you have yet too short for it to go to waste. Not moving is a huge part of working from home. Nobody tells you that it will be easier to eat badly and you will find it even easier to move less. So, yes… exercise when you think best or stretch every couple hours would bring a different sense to your body. Drink water, don't forget to eat! All this sounds lame and same old talk, BUT what is it important here is that ALL these decisions are never automatic when you are alone working from home. You don’t see anyone getting a cup of tea to tempt you enough, like happens in a office.
NURTURE YOUR CREATIVITY
In my opinion, there are truly two ways to start the creativity engine. It is true creativity is a like a muscle, which means you need to work it out. So, please do work it out by doing what you do. Good, bad, regular, amazingly… it all counts in the end. I know, I know it sounds like a cliche but there is not lost work when you save the files, and you can take elements from those exercises for other projects. That said, creativity also needs a breather. Working from home means you cut out many, many of the transitorily moments -no commute, no ephemeral encounter with a old colleague, no reflection of light with the wind blowing on a certain way that Monday morning. So, please make sure to book in your calendar some daily get away to sparkle your creativity. It could even be, going to that one ice-cream place you have never been. It is not all about looking at others doing your craft, but seeing different crafts.