Ever wonder how freelancers manage to work successfully from home? Single mum and freelance copywriter Annie Corbett explains how a full, productive working day can easily be achieved – as long as you’re prepared to overlook the housework.
The fine art of domestic triage
People often say, “How can you concentrate, working from home? I’d be tidying up, doing the washing, making endless cups of tea…”.
After years of home-based working I seem to have developed a household blind spot from 9 to 6, Monday to Friday. I’ve managed to train myself to ignore all those niggling jobs that beckon from every corner of every room like gremlins. Or that novel splayed like a badly landed bird on the carpet. I’ve learned the hard way that once you’re in their clutches any work deadlines just fly out the window.
‘Commuting’ also helps. Every morning I leave my house come hell or high water and beetle around our local park weaving in and out of assorted owners and their dogs. Before Woody came along I probably looked like those mime artists who walk invisible dogs on mysteriously straight leads. Recently he’s lent a sense of purpose to the occasion and given me a kind of park walker’s passport.
My commuting ritual serves two purposes – one is to blow the cotton wool away that seems to envelop my brain in the morning. The other is that when I walk back in the door I have my work head on and not my home head. Which is when the household blind spot kicks in and saves the day.
But what about the weekends? And those two tiny slivers of time left to do everything that’s fun plus everything that matters? That’s where domestic triage comes in. In a war zone doctors have to decide who lives and who dies when there isn’t enough manpower or medical supplies to go around. In my house Saturday morning brings a grim battle between What I Should Do, What I Want To Do and What Actually Happens.
I’d love to tell you that domestic pride wins the day and my socks are all folded by sundown. Alas no. My inner shirker is usually victorious and the ironing stays in a defeated heap. Because I find that working from home brings another medical condition: weekend houseitis. Getting out is the only cure – and over the years it’s given me a great excuse to look at my to-do list, grab my coat and say “mañana!”.