It feels slightly wrong that my second post in exploring living and working at home should be about ‘bunking off’ and leaving both home and office, but actually it’s very relevant to the living part. And, now I think about it, to the working part too.
People often say to me, “Oh, I would never have the motivation to work at home,” thereby implying that they would spend the day in bed, watching TV, eating ice cream – anything but working. I’m not the first to point out that the opposite is true. Working is not a problem. Stopping work is a challenge. And the thing is that even when you do take time ‘off work’, not only does it mean that what you didn’t do this afternoon will be waiting for you this evening instead, but it also means that the ironing mountain begins to glare at you from the corner of the room, you realise there is no food in the house and you actually begin to see the scattered toys you’ve been carefully stepping around for days.
So, having been re-reading ‘The Artist’s Way’, I decided to take myself off yesterday afternoon to a new(ish) yarn shop not far from home for an ‘artist date’ – basically a bit of re-inspiration time. Not that I’m a knitting designer, textile artist or anything like that; writing is my thing, but knitting keeps me sane and switches off my brain. And I like soft, pretty wool.
Yet all morning I found excuse after excuse not to go. I made a mental list as long as my arm of other enjoyable things I could be doing with my afternoon, but these were actually all “shoulds” in disguise: go to the allotment (because I should be weeding); carry on working (because I should get ahead with this job and because I should be here in case anyone calls); go for a walk (because I should get more exercise)… And there is nothing wrong with any of these things. I enjoy them all and will do them all. But really I wanted to go and play in a yarn shop.
So what did I do? I tossed a coin. Fortunately the universe was smiling on me because the yarn shop won. But I swear if the coin had come down on the other side I would have stayed at home.
On the drive there I had two separate ideas for short stories and had to pull over to write them down. I enjoyed the spring sunshine (in between the April
showers downpours). I sang along loudly to cheesy folk music. When I got there I found lots of squishy yarn to play with (er…and to buy), and had a lovely chat with the shop owner, as well as a good cup of tea. And that evening I worked happily for hours on both paid and unpaid work, full of energy I really don’t think I would have had if I’d kept plugging away all afternoon. I got as much done as if I had worked all afternoon, probably a lot more because I wouldn’t have had those ideas.
So why, oh why, is it so hard to let myself take a couple of hours off every now and again? Taking time for living is not only fun, but makes the working more productive and fun afterwards. Oh, and another thing. That couple of hours away from home (where I spend most of my time, remember) made me really appreciate home when I returned to it. Yet another cliche that turns out to be true.