I feel truly lucky to be giving this whole Working From Home thing a shot – really, I do. But… there is a downside to it all; a slippery slope of dangerous neglect, and I’m falling into way too many of those potentially negative behaviours. I knew this was a
possibility likelihood because I know myself pretty well, and am always (well, mostly!) ready to own my sh*t. But I didn’t think it would happen so quicky, and I certainly wasn’t prepared for the feelings of utter self-hatred that have arisen in me more often; every time I cut things fine with a deadline, for example; or each time I waste an entire day watching Fringe rather than working, and then work from 11pm until 7am to make up for it before crashing out in a mindless puddle.
I took myself in hand the other day and said: Something has to be done!
I read this awesome post by Catherynne M. Valente (gentle warning: there is language involved, just in case this is a problem), and I can relate to so, so much of what she says. This part:
…working at home can become a kind of hell where there is no division of anything in your life, just work that has bled over onto everything else.
And especially this:
But working at home, man, it can lead to some serious ruts when you don’t have kids to fix your schedule and your work is entirely predicated on future returns. If I start work at midnight, no one will think less of me! But then I will feel gross and shamed for weird internal reasons.
Yes! This is me, exactly. Okay, not all the time… but a lot of it. Too much of it. And, you know, maybe if I was happy to have that kind of non-schedule and was truly content with always being ‘on’ to some extent, then maybe it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s generally true that people naturally work better at certain times of the day, and I’m definitely someone who has always worked better at night. Still. The problems start when you’re actually feeling bad about yourself for doing those things, and not just because you’re worried about how other people might perceive your
schedule absolute lack of discipline. Because I genuinely don’t care about that. If I choose to work at night and sleep in all morning, why should it matter to anyone else? As long as the work gets done – that’s what counts.
But as I said, I’m feeling unhappy about the way my ‘schedule’ has spiralled so badly out of control. Sure, my work does get done – I haven’t missed a deadline (yet). But I spend a lot of time procrastinating and then work in a crazy rush of energy at the last minute. This really does mirror the way I was all the way back in school. My mum reminds me of this; of how I would stay up late into the night – well into the early hours – revising for exams or getting an essay finished the night before it was due… How this was just the way I worked from a very young age. Still, it doesn’t mean I can’t change it – and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want to change this pattern. I am pretty tired of it and I know it can’t be all that ‘healthy’ for me. Some nights I get 4 hours sleep and others it’s more like 10, and then I wonder why I feel so zombified all the time.
It’s not pretty, you know? 😉
So really, I think this is just a public way of keeping myself accountable. To say: I’m going to work on this and get some kind of schedule together. I am totally willing to admit that I’m not so good with schedules, which is why working from home does suit me. But perhaps I can come up with something that’s a compromise of sorts. I need to think about it some more. I do need to make changes, though, especially as my workload increases – there’s so much more to being a writer than just, you know, writing. I want my career to be a long and successful one, and I think one way of helping that to happen is to create a more healthy working environment.
More on this another time; for now, it’s back to the Revision Cave. Have a great weekend!