Working from home – a boost to my creativity
It’s not that I’m antisocial, far from it, but I’ve really embraced working from home. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve been used to doing homeworking since the first lockdown. I worked for my local council in 2020 doing admin and have done some online training and voluntary charity work this year. Of course, with the council work we were asked to work from home even before the full lockdown in March 2020. I was pleased they kept us safe and luckily when we got the official word to go home to work, I was armed with my own laptop and a good broadband connection. In August 2020, I was then supplied with a council-owned laptop and so I could stop hammering the keyboard of my own! I appreciate not everyone in the country is so fortunate and I don’t take anything for granted.
Now, after speaking to friends and family, I have discovered that not everyone was overjoyed at the prospect of working from home. People close to me have said that this new ‘normal’ has infringed on their home life and meant that they couldn’t separate work time and downtime. A weariness had eventually set in and where some people have been able to go into the office a couple or a few days a week, with the gradual unlocking of society, it has been beneficial in redrawing those boundaries. Getting a happy medium for productive working has been a definite goal for so many it seems. It has been a real test of our mental abilities and our adaptable nature. I think we should give ourselves a pat on the back and not feel that time has been wasted or that we haven’t learnt anything from this ever-changing period in our history.
In fact, here’s five new things I have learnt during this chaotic time:
I’m a tick-list person. Yes, I confess, I am a list addict. Can’t get enough of them. It’s simple, it’s concise and it’s downright satisfying when you can write a list and then just tick off the items throughout the working day or week. I’m also stationery-obsessed so you can imagine that I love using a good quality ballpoint pen (always black unless I can’t find one, then it will be blue as my next choice) and a handy lined notepad. This method and the accompanying equipment are not just my go-to’s for work, they apply to my creative writing as well. When I’m writing a new poem I draft and redraft, and my tick-list may well consist of items/ideas that I’ve added or amended. I often think about new lines to add when I’m not in ‘writing mode’ so having a notepad to hand is always an essential piece of kit.
Space around me is essential. Whenever I’ve worked in an office, I’ve nearly always had the requisite amount of space on the desk. But the difference of working in my own home office is that I can rearrange the space to suit my needs. I can spread everything out on the living room table and there is no checking with colleagues if my stuff is encroaching on their desk (shared desk-users will know what I mean with that one). Also setting up the desk (or in my case dining room table) for productive working has been a learning experience as I’ve gone along. Fortunately, I have a good supportive chair which I’ve bolstered with a cushion to make sure I’m sitting at the correct height for typing. I’ve also got a great amount of daylight coming into the room with a wide window and also a central light above me for an extra boost. Returning to the theme of space I also feel that the space around me is uncluttered and neat, so my mind is clear, for the day job and the writing job.
Breaks are a must. Those of us who work or have worked in offices know that working on laptops/pcs you often need to take a break to let the eyes and mind relax. This is the case for all of us who are working in our homes too. A break can’t be underestimated – it will recharge the batteries even if it’s just for a quick coffee, tea, or water. I find when I turn away from the screen I can stretch out, look out of the window, and reassess my priorities for the day. I’ve kept to the same refreshment break routine since that first lockdown – so that’s exactly sixteen months this week. I have my second and final coffee of the day at 10.30am, then lunch at 1pm (12.30pm on Fridays). Then I have a little breather of a few minutes every hour. It really makes a difference to my frame of mind.
Virtual meetings no longer phase me. In the beginning there was the phone, then there was the mobile, then there was Zoom. Oh no, not Zoom I hear a lot of you cry. We are very much over it now. Or maybe not. In my case I was asked to communicate via Microsoft Teams for council work and at first, I was dubious about showing my face over the virtual workspace. However, I soon got used to it and the unique etiquette that goes along with any of these types of tools. I have now used Zoom which I found to be similar. I will say though I do still find it much easier to chat on the phone but of course you can’t do that with multiple colleagues at once. There is something to be said for meeting in person too, it is still the most human way to conduct our discussions. You don’t get the warmth or even sometimes the coolness of people’s personalities coming through with any virtual communications. I think this is why it’s a positive result that now we are able to work from home and sometimes from the office again (if required or allowed). Human connection should be savoured wherever and whenever we can experience it.
Thinking on my seat. There’s a concept I’ve got well used to while working as an administrator: thinking on my feet when I’ve had to reset my priorities and to meet various deadlines. Managers and colleagues have asked me to get reports in for certain times or have given me extra responsibilities and so balancing these is a fine art. I’ve learnt to be assertive and to use my initiative on many occasions. Drawing on these strengths has meant I have felt more resilient in the virtual workplace. But I’ve also found now I’m literally thinking on my seat (rather than my feet) with my creative endeavours too. I’ve adapted my writing routine to fit around a new way of working, whether it be admin support for the council or a mixture of online training and voluntary duties. I feel now I can have a day that has surprises but not nasty ones; I’m ready for different challenges and a variety of tasks.
In this strange chapter that has literally re-written all our lives it seems we are always learning, adapting, challenging, and being challenged. I hope that in the main we grow with it, and don’t grow tired of homeworking. I am positive about working from home and I know that it may not be forever but for now it is my happy medium.
If you would like to, let me know your thoughts about homeworking – I’d love to get your feedback. You can respond via the comments section below or feel free to contact me on my site email: email@example.com. Happy reading and I’ll post again soon