How to live in the vortex – part two

Working from home has its benefits but a major drawback I find is that I simply don’t know when to stop.

With such easy access to my mac – I work from the kitchen, a stone’s throw from the sofa and dangerously near the fridge – I can’t help jumping back into work mode during the evenings when the talking box doesn’t grab my attention.

It was also a problem when I was in my last permanent role. With my phone dinging with every text, whatsapp, slack message and email, I found myself on alert 24/7, even on my days off. One thing that helped with this was silencing my emails but I had to keep them on my phone for when I was in London for meetings with the team or clients so there was still the temptation to check them constantly.

Don’t you just wish you could go back to having a Nokia 3210? Bin that smartphone. Saying that, I don’t know what would occupy my eyes if I didn’t have the internet on my phone but it goes much too far. I’ve thought about getting a work phone that I switch off sometimes and ignore but the life of a freelancer makes switching off potentially damaging. However, I do know that not switching off can also be damaging and I’m working on a happy medium.

I am an avid scroller. I find myself glued to my phone scrolling through LinkedIn, professional Facebook groups and news sites whilst I listen to LBC or Adam Buxton’s fabulous podcast , which I highly recommend.

My problem is that I simply can’t switch off and I think it’s a problem many freelancers have. When you’re always on the lookout for new opportunities it is difficult to take your finger off the pulse for fear that you’ll miss something or lose your connection to the outside world.

I’ve decided to take a new attitude to watching television. I have never been able to concentrate on it and my friends find it frustrating when they try and watch films with me. I’m one of those that continually asks questions because I don’t pay attention and lose track of the plot. Now I’m going to see watching television as work. I adore blogging and TV and films can provide ample subjects to write about. And if I’m going to be reviewing what I watch then I do need to pay attention. It’s actually working, I just wrote a short review of Motley Crue’s The Dirt, which I managed to just about sit still for.

I have quite a solid work routine in the mornings but it all slides into chaos throughout the rest of the day. I get up around 7/7.30, head to my desk straight away and get a couple of hours of work done. I get a break when I toddle off to the gym for an hour or so before heading back to work for around 11. I love getting these hours in the bag. Having been a night owl as a teenager I am surprised by the fact that now, having grown into some version of an adult (don’t laugh), most days I spring out of bed and am ready to work straight away. For many people this simply doesn’t work so you’ve got to figure out your own routine. My last boss – yes I did have a real job once upon a time – isn’t a morning person and we couldn’t catch up until at least 10am. Because we all worked flexibly, the whole team could adjust their working hours to what worked for them. Some of them would email me at midnight as that was when they felt like working. This brought another problem and saw me working in bed quite a lot of the time, until my boss told me that she really didn’t expect us to be available all the time.

Because I get up reasonably early and tend to have pretty full days I crawl off to bed early too, and that works for me. I get bored once I stop working and find it extremely difficult to switch my head off so going to bed is really the only thing I can do. Going out during the week doesn’t really work as ideally I’d want to meet people at five and be home by eight, but most of my friends don’t finish work that early.

The weekends are different. I still get up early but I find it easier to switch off when my husband is around. I make him play scrabble and chess with me when I’m fidgety and can’t focus on the TV. I might knock out a blog or two at the weekend’s but apart from that I do try and stop, see friends or do something different to take my mind off work. Being outdoors is a must for me, even in the rain!

For breakfast, lunch and dinner I’m usually at my desk. My husband often gets home late so I don’t really see the point in stopping work for meals. I do take little breaks to do the washing up or sweep the floor. We have rabbits so sweeping is a daily necessity.

I love working from home because the house work tends to just happen between bursts of productivity. Another break from work I get is on Wednesday morning when I present my radio show on Kane FM. Presenting a radio show is quite frankly the most fun you can have and when we’re on air I’m not thinking about when that potential client is going to get to me or when I’m going to finish writing up that article for the Woking News and Mail. I switch off and just focus on the listeners and the music.

Yoga helps but I keep forgetting about it and tend to like to exercise in the morning rather than afternoon or evening. I always do some in the morning but am contemplating an evening session too as I know it helps me sleep.

You’d think being so near the sofa would be risky but I don’t find myself drawn to it at all. Quite the other way around. Often I’ll jump up with an idea and scurry over to my desk again before I forget it. It’s OK, I love work and love everything I do – except Wizmedia’s accounts, they’re a pain in the backside.

I suppose if I tucked myself away in the studio I might be better at stopping when I leave the room. Separating your work and relaxation spaces is supposed to help but I do like being able to spring into action at any moment. If I wasn’t me, I’d tell myself to set working hours and not work the rest of the time. Unfortunately I am me, so I wouldn’t listen.