Sitting at desk does not equal work

Once again in the British media there’s been discussion of home working and how it involves pyjamas and daytime TV.  I read about it here and have no intention of seeking out the original articles because they’ll only annoy me.  But it made me think about productivity.

When I was an employee working outside the home, I travelled for 1.25 hours each day just to get to the office and back.  I spent at least a couple of hours every day in meetings, and sometimes I spent all day in meetings.  Now I’ve ‘won back’ all that time.  Some of it gets used for work, some for family.  And I know that the hours I spend working each day are much more productive now, because I can focus completely on the task at hand.

Some of that time I’ve won back, however, is in danger of being used staring blankly at a screen because ‘I have to use this time to work’.  But if inspiration isn’t striking and you’re getting frustrated, it’s ok to walk away.  Especially if I’m writing or editing my writing, as I have been the last few days, I find that there comes a point where what I’m writing stops making sense to me.  That’s the point where going to do something else is actually the most productive thing you can do.  I get up, make tea, pack a bag (off to pick up the boy from his holiday at Grandma’s this afternoon), and the brain whirrs away in the background without me being aware of it.  On the way up the stairs several sentences come to me spontaneously, I work out how to restructure this thing, and how to begin that thing, and the ‘real’ writing begins again.

Now, what I want to know is whether I can legitimately bill for the time spent making tea, packing a bag and walking around the house?

Then I remember how much time ‘out’ at work is spent in meetings, making tea for the entire office and gossiping on the stairs…

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