Working from home (not)

September 23, 2010

If, like me, you are a tragic victim of the global recession and find yourself unexpectedly ejected from the cut-and-thrust of office life (well, I had a lovely part-time job that finished), then my little guide to maximum productivity while working from home could be just the thing.

1. Do not, on any account, join Twitter or Facebook. And, while you are not joining Twitter or Facebook, make absolutely sure that you do not subsequently join Tweetdeck. Twittering away all day is bad enough, and I personally would never dream of doing it *ahem*, but adding Tweetdeck is sheer madness. Because if you ever do start trying to do some work, tweets will suddenly materialise in the top right-hand side of your computer screen and distract ……..sorry, where was I?

2. Try not to have a cat. If you’ve already got one, then fine, I’m not suggesting you put it in a wheelie bin or anything, but just lock it out of the house while you’re working. Otherwise, like me, you’ll be trying to type while enjoying a close-up view of your cat’s tail, at best, and then brushing cat hairs off the computer screen as they impede your view of the tweets materialising in the top right-hand corner of your screen …..

3. Throw away your kettle. After all, you don’t need to stop for refreshment. Getting on with some good, solid work is refreshing enough. You never get thirsty, after all, and don’t much like a nice cup of tea round about now, in your favourite mug, all nice and warm and steamy, with maybe a biscuit on the side. Oooh, has it boiled? Hang on, back in just a tick …..

4. Do not, on any account, have children who need collecting from school. Make them walk. Or make them cycle, unaccompanied if possible, it’s very fashionable in Dulwich. Or there’s always public transport. I hear it’s quite good sometimes.

5. Be realistic about deadlines. As a hard-working professional, you can turn around the most difficult project in a matter of hours. But should you? You don’t want your employers to start taking you for granted. Start with deadlines of a month, and see if you can work them up gradually. To two months. Or maybe Christmas ….

6. Meanwhile, whack in those invoices the moment you do the work. Do not, for heaven’s sake, forget which projects you have done, forget what the rate was and who to contact about accounts, until six months later when your credit card gets spat out in John Lewis …

7. Once your children have staggered home from school, do not, on any account, allow them access to your computer. Yes, they may well have urgent GCSE coursework to do or vital research to carry out, but surely that’s what libraries are for? And another healthy walk is just the thing to keep up their cardiovascular exercise levels, leaving you free to check Twitter meet that urgent deadline.

8.Do not, on any account, allow housework to distract you. Yes, you may be working from home, but that is simply no reason to clean your home. You didn’t clean the office, did you? As long as you can still negotiate the mounds of dirty washing to get to the kettle (in order to throw it out, obviously) then you’re fine.

9. Likewise, do your level best to forget about the garden. Autumn is a good time to let things lie fallow, and fallen leaves can provide a great organic mulch. Lawns can only get so high, anyway, can’t they? As long as the children don’t get lost on the way to the trampoline, you’re fine.

10. And remember, whatever you do – DO NOT give up the day job.

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  • Titch September 23, 2010 at 5:28 am

    Hahaha, so, so true. And living just round the corner in Herne Hill, I can confirm that walking from school is the thing to do round here. But is 5 too young?! Now, off for my forth (no joke) cuppa of the morning. Where did I put that kettle?

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 23, 2010 at 5:43 am

      Erm, I think your kettle is in the bin next to mine, Titch ….I’m on my fifth cup at least, don’t tell anyone! Nice to meet a fellow Herne Hillian/Dulwichite

      • Titch September 23, 2010 at 5:55 am

        Hi! Yes, v friendly with Dulwich Park, though Brockwell is where my heart lies! Who knows, maybe our kids are at the same school and can walk together so we can get on with Important Work.

        • Dulwich Divorcee September 23, 2010 at 7:47 am

          Oooh, I think they should walk together even if they’re at completely different schools. Very good for their orienteering skills while we’re concentrating on Vital Projects ….like getting the kettle out of the bin ….

  • London City Mum September 23, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Can I also add that having TweetDeck on you work pc when actually IN the office is equally distracting?

    Although it is a wondrous tool for those very long boring periods when your project manager/technical architect/managing consultant is busy untwisting their knickers following your latest dressing-down about the quality of their work.


    LCM x

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 23, 2010 at 5:55 am

      Ah, that twisty-knickered look, one of the many things I miss about office life ….xx

  • Footballers Knees September 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I love this post! I agree with every point, especially disposing of the kettle. And biscuits on the side….mmmmm….biscuits!

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 24, 2010 at 5:44 am

      Oh, the biscuits, don’t even mention the biscuits ….right I’ve got to go to the kitchen to … work more …

  • Juliette Samuel September 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Great list here. At one point or another, I’ve encountered ALL of these distractions before (all but tweetdeck). 🙂

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 24, 2010 at 5:46 am

      Oh, well, definitely don’t try tweetdeck, then, no definitely not …you don’t want to get the full set of distractions. Though 9 out of 10 is not bad going 🙂

  • Emma September 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    This is too true just on the days when I work from home to escape that office. I’m definitely not disciplined enough to work from home!!

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 24, 2010 at 5:46 am

      Yes, it takes iron discipline …*brushing crumbs off the keyboard*

  • exmoorjane September 24, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Absolutely CLASSIC! Love it. Am in same situation and, I fear, falling foul of all the points…. #workfail (aaghh, see, I even write in hashtags now)

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 24, 2010 at 5:47 am

      Aha, a sure sign of a person who’s downloaded tweetdeck … #hashtagitis

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  • Andy September 24, 2010 at 5:27 am

    😀 Nice one. Replace the cat with a dog, and you got me..#Busmansholiday

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 24, 2010 at 5:48 am

      Gosh, not even I could work with a dog on my desk, and I’m a real trouper as you know 😉

  • Sessha Batto September 24, 2010 at 5:53 am

    The heck with the kettle – I had one of those instant hot taps put in . . . I do believe it’s one of the pinnacle discoveries of modern civilization – a cup of tea whenever I want with NO wait . . .

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 27, 2010 at 3:30 am

      Oh that sounds clever, I’ve seen them but just thought they looked like a recipe for scalded children ….but anything that gets me back to my workstation more quickly is an absolute winner, obviously …..;)

  • Suzie Grogan September 24, 2010 at 6:19 am

    Having just been made redundant I went fully freelance again a month ago. Love the freedom to write but these tips are spot on. The dog is definitely a distraction, as will be the size of my behind if I continue to keep having the cups of tea and biccies..

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 27, 2010 at 3:32 am

      I recommend smashing all your mirrors, Suzie, it definitely helps! Sorry to hear about the redundancy, it’s not nice, is it? I’m sure you’ll love working at home, though it’s exhausting, so exhausting I might just have to have a cup of tea …..

  • spudballoo September 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Snigger…brilliant! I work from home, I kind of love and hate it. Even worse, I work ‘flexibly’ ie. I have a set number of hours I can work every month but when I do them is up to me. Urgh, so hard to motivate myself.

    Our cat is a terror. I have an office downt he fields on the farm. He stalks me down there and howls to be let in and then sits on me, the desk, my keyboard.

    My bete noir is the washing. i just can’t help doing it, putting it out, folding it.

    Invoices. I am crap at this. i hate doing it. My client has to BEG me for invoices. Seriously. The last email exchange went like this:

    Client: Spud, much as it pains me to beg and it goes against the grain, but could we PLEASE have your August invoice?

    Me: OK.I really hate doing invoices. Would it be easier if we just agreed I’m a volunteer so I don’t need paying?

    Client: You’re insane.

    Giggle. x

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 27, 2010 at 3:34 am

      Loved that email excerpt, spat my tea on my keyboard while laffing, though of course I am not drinking tea as I have iron discipline while working from home … what about a swap, you can come and fold my washing and I’ll do your invoices? I draw the line at ironing, though …. 🙂

  • Peggy @ Perfectly Happy Mum September 26, 2010 at 4:05 am

    OH MY GOD! So this IS what I have been doing wrong then!

    • Dulwich Divorcee September 27, 2010 at 3:35 am

      Yep, Peggy. I suspect you have been working much too hard. Stop it, please, you’re making the rest of us look bad 😉