Working From Home – In The Mix

As Boris announces today that he wants everyone to return to their offices again to enable the economy to keep growing, it made me think more about this. I am lucky enough to do a mix of work, but the majority of it is not from home. My dream is to eventually work mainly in writing jobs, but even then I hope to have a good balance of work in a workplace and at home.

There are so many advantages and disadvantages for working at home. I like the idea of finding a reasonable balance between the two. Here are the pros and cons of home working:

Advantages

1) No travel. Good for the environment and saves time being wasted.

2) No need to spend on snacking. All the food and supplies you need are already at home. This can be a downer too as you may be tempted to eat and drink more when working so close to a fully filled fridge.

3) You can take better control of your timetable, unless you are unlucky enough to have been given back-to-back zoom calls all day.

4) You are your own boss. Well, not literally, but at least nobody is actually breathing down your neck as you try to hit a deadline. At least if you need to buy some time you can say that the internet is down. Who will know?!

5) In theory you will get much more done. No distractions from chatty colleagues or noisy photocopiers can be used as excuses for a lack of productivity.

Disadvantages

1) Although you don’t use any fuel, you may find it harder to make a distinction between work and home. Travelling to work is often a good way to disconnect from your home life and give yourself the brain space needed for a day at work. I often unpick a day on my way home from work and usually by the time I reach my house I am ready to move on and chill.

2) Pets and family members can get in the way. At work you won‘t be dealing with fighting cats or intrusive dogs. Kids won’t be arguing over computer games in the background. Of course office hours are longer then school hours so there is bound to be an overlap.

3) I found that when I had a period of working from home I missed the social interaction of being around my colleagues who always give me a sounding board and regularly cheer me up with their humour. Let’s face it, nothing beats a good face to face gossip either.

4) You are using your own supplies. At least at work everything is there for you. Working from home leads to dealing with printers, restocking ink and regular trips to the post office. Although you can claim for these, they can take up a lot of valuable time.

5) You can get tempted to relax whilst at home. I know people who end up getting up later and staying in their jogging bottoms all day. Sitting around can lead to bad backs and putting weight on. That trip into the office can involve walking or cycling and getting your daily dose of fresh air and exercise.

So yes, I like working from home a lot but it comes with a down side. Personally I have a mix of both and like being able to have some days at home and others in a busy environment. Perhaps in future I will manage to make it a 50:50 split between them both.

For a related article about working from home click here.

If you enjoyed reading this post please comment below your thoughts about working from home. Also please consider following my blog. This will help me build a platform so that one day I can work on it from home more.

Are You An Interactive Reader?

Books are amazing! They are full of windows into other worlds and into other people’s souls. Children learn so much about society and grammar, as well as how to write creatively themselves, by reading a good variety of books.

At school, teachers generally find interactive ways to connect with stories and for children to gain a better understanding of the materials they are reading through drama, art and music. As adults we tend to do this much less but I think that finding ways to interact with the books that you read can make the activity of reading even more enjoyable as well as engaging our brains, keeping those synapses active.

Here are a few questions to consider. As usual, I have noted my own responses underneath each one. I look forward to reading your thoughts on these.

1) Do you ever look into the subjects or locations covered within your reading books?

For me, if I come across a new subject or something that I have less awareness of, I quickly open up Google and have a look for more information about that particular topic. This can stem from a tricky word which has intrigued me or even an exotic place that I’ve never heard of. If a book is set on a Greek island, I want to visualise it by opening a map of that location, for example. I want to know the terrain and check out a few pictures taken on that island too.

2) Have you ever unpicked a story with friends?

Many people join book clubs for this very reason. Discussing a book as you travel through its pages can be fun and fascinating. Taking in the opinions of others and engaging in a good debate about the gritty issues uncovered can be satisfying.

Although I never found a book club to join locally, I often read a book at the same time as a friend. We can then have a good natter about the last chapter we read and have a laugh predicting what might happen next. If a story is particularly harrowing we can contemplate how we would deal with that issue or make a decision, give the facts we are presented with.

3) Would you make something artistic based on a book?

After I have read a book which is very visual, riddled with detailed description, I’ve often found myself doodling. I like to sketch cartoon-style and in the past have done this related to book images. Obviously we all see book settings differently and so creating something based on a book is really interesting. You could make a clay model, do a colouring or maybe even draw your own map of a mythical world.

4) Have you ever written fan fiction?

People play around with popular narratives and put their favourite story characters into completely random situations.

Not yet. You hear about this all of the time at the moment. Harry Potter has had so many fan fiction stories written, using its characters. This is where fans take the story characters and write their own version of events or continue a well known narrative in a way that they would like to see it play out.

Commonly, fans change love interests, alter storylines and mix up relationships, making friends from enemies. A good example is where Harry Potter is rather good ‘friends’ with his nemesis, Draco Malfoy.

I wrote this post because I think that interacting with books can help you to get out of a reading slump. It is also meant to be a bit of fun. I’d love to see your responses to the above questions in the comments. How interactive with your reading are you?

I recently wrote a post about how lazy a reader you might be which is here. If you enjoyed my article perhaps consider following my newish blog, where I write about books, mental health and the environment.

Working From Home – Without Distractions.

Temptation is everywhere when working at home.

Following my previous post about what it is like to work from home, I thought it would be fun to discuss the types of distraction you may find there and ways of avoiding them.

I have worked part time from my living room and learned some lessons for myself. To add to this, many of my friends have stopped commuting to London and instead done all of their business from home for the last year and a half. They have shared the things that regularly annoy them while working at home.

Here are some distractions that we have discovered whilst trying to conduct zoom meetings and carry out our daily work.

1) The TV.

For me the television is very tempting. When I have a spare moment I feel the instinct to pop it on for a few minutes. Then, if I am not careful, I simply mute it while I work, finding myself constantly referring to it in between each task and delaying my progress.

Similarly, if you base yourself in the living room, others may come in at different times of the day and want to turn on their favourite telly shows.

The easy answer is not to work in the living room but to base yourself somewhere that others definitely won’t interrupt your meetings or put you off. Failing this, a good old fashioned ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign may work instead.

2) Pets

I suppose this one speaks for itself, and whilst I don’t currently have any animals, I often cat sit for a friend. Cats and dogs love to roam and have very few boundaries. If you close the door, they claw at it until it opens and before long they are stretching out in front of your camera, causing you to have to contort your body to get seen on screen.

Pets need training to stay downstairs (or up) during work times and have regular opportunities to go out for a run. We have all seen animals on Youtube popping their heads into Zoom meetings and disturbing TV presenters who have reported from their own houses. Getting a good routine involving pets will help your work day run more smoothly.

3) Work away from the road.

What I mean by this is make sure you base yourself nearer the back of the house or flat, perhaps near the back garden. I have found that working in a room that overlooks my street has led to all sorts of noises disturbing my work.

From deliveries to rubbish trucks, arguing neighbours to children singing, all sorts of things have disrupted me because I worked in a room that was at the front of the house.

4) Try and disconnect.

It sounds obvious but unplug the house phone during the day. Otherwise it will ring again and again during your meetings and you will find yourself frustrated by it.

Yesterday I saw two Olympians doing an interview on the TV and their house phone was constantly ringing in another part of the house so they were unable to stop it. Their faces showed their irritation and this confirms why house phones and other devices which may ring need turning off while you are working.

5) Stay away from the kitchen.

Another thing that I find massively distracting is the kitchen because when working at home I find there is a constant temptation to snack. I have learned that the best thing to do is schedule breaks like I would have if I was in the actual workplace.

That way I don’t end up sipping coffee all day and wasting time boiling the kettle. Alongside this I have to delete my fast food apps during the week as I have fallen foul to repeatedly ordering lunch by delivery.

Writers and bloggers work from home a lot and so I thought it would be useful to discuss this topic. Here is a previous post about this topic. Feel free to share your own experiences and tips in the comments below. Maybe even consider following my blog.