Because I work for myself, from home, I can work from my bed when I’m ill.
Because I work for myself, from home, with nobody to delegate to and a deadline looming, I have to work from my bed when I’m ill.
Like me, you may sometimes wonder whether this self-directed life is a blessing or a curse. But let’s remember, we always have a choice. Today I’m choosing to stay in bed and nurse myself, and do the work anyway. I’m choosing to think of that as a blessing.
“When things get back to normal…”
When things are normal, everything will go as planned, everyone will be where they should be at the allotted time, and there will be no unusual happenings forcing changes of plan. We just need to get past this impossible deadline, or that thing that we weren’t expecting, then things will be different.
Hot water boilers break. Children are ill. Events are cancelled. Trains are late. New opportunities, or things that need to be done, arise suddenly. Children are ill again. (They are so generous, sharing their germs with one another constantly.) Clients or colleagues don’t keep their end of the bargain. Friends invite you out on the one day when you had other plans. Children have school holidays. Food you’d planned to cook with goes off. (Or you realise you forgot to buy it in the first place.) People have birthdays. It rains. Or snows.
These aren’t the things that get in the way of real life. They are real life.
I’m writing this while trying to ignore the film that the boy is watching on yet another sick day from school. (Without ignoring him or his requests for drinks and crackers – a fine balance!) It’s one of the many skills a home worker needs to cultivate.
I’ve decided to stop waiting for things to get back to normal. Normal is what happens every day. This is normal: the swings and roundabouts, the changing plans on the fly, the multi-tasking. We may not be able to plan for every eventuality but we can accept what comes and work with it. We can build in extra time when we estimate how long a job will take, to allow for illness and mishap. And we can keep the phone number of a good plumber to hand.
Some days feel like a mountain you just can’t climb. Do what you can.
When you look at something and think, “I can’t” – just do what you can.
If you meet the deadline but it’s toast for dinner – you did what you could.
If you miss the deadline and it’s toast for dinner – you did what you could.
I noticed a poster on the wall of the boy’s school today:
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”
(It’s from a Mary Anne Radmacher art poster. I’ve discovered she’s written the book too.)
It takes practice to be able to estimate how long a job will take. I’m pretty good at it now. I learnt early on to build in plenty of slack for:
- Faffing time (on the part of the client; I can faff with the best of them, but not where work is concerned)
- Moving of goalposts (sometimes a job isn’t quite what you thought it was going to be)
- Unexpected days off school (for my child, or even the client’s)
- Other people’s contributions not being made on time
- IT gremlins
- Something else I hadn’t even thought of
In general, it’s good to expect the unexpected. Usually, the extra time I’ve built in gets used up, one way or another. (Which I suppose means it’s not extra at all!)
Sometimes, though, the stars align and I get a burst of miraculous energy which means I can award myself some Time Off. It feels like playing hooky, but why else do we work from home if not for the perks it brings?
I’m particularly smug this morning, having had an hour’s bike ride in the glorious autumn sunshine before the heavens opened. Sheets of rain are pouring down my windows now, as I sit at my desk. Play hooky whenever you can. Carpe diem and all that!
1. Then you can stop thinking about it. Get the brain space back.
2. If you don’t like the way it turns out, you’ll have time to change it.
3. Then you can go out and play.
4. It might not take as long as you think.
5. It might take longer than you think.
6. You might enjoy it.
7. It’s worth doing.
8. You said you would. So you’ll feel virtuous when you have.
9. The more things you do, the more things you’re able to do.
10. Everything – and everyone – has to start somewhere.
Do it. Do it now!
What if fiddling around sorting receipts, tidying your desk and ticking off small, basic, non-urgent tasks is actually what you should be doing right now? (Yes, even with that looming deadline.) What if your body and brain need some down time and faffing in a semi-productive way is a way to create that much-needed space?
Reams and reams have been written about how to avoid procrastination. I doubt Dickens was the first, and he certainly wasn’t the last, but he’s probably one of the best known: Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him. We all talk about wasting time as if it were a bad thing.
But today I beg to differ. Fiddly little jobs are a good way to ease into the working day, and on a good day you could find yourself doing the ‘real’ work without really noticing. On a bad day, at least you will have done something.
What’s more, you will have reduced the amount of time you have to do the big job you’ve been putting off. Yes, this is a good thing. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, work expands to fill the time available. (Another reason to love deadlines!) And spending three hours on something doesn’t necessarily make it better than it would have been had you spent one very focused hour on it.
So if faffing and fiddling are what you really need to do today, go for it. Think of it as giving your brain a rest – even a form of meditation. One that comes with the satisfaction of ticking off some very small irritating jobs from the To Do List!