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Robin Hobb's Infrequent and Off Topic Blog

Robin's Rules for Working at/from Home

Robin's Rules for Working at Home And Actually Getting Something Done

 

We have all worked at home. If you made your bed, cooked a meal or swept a floor, you've worked at home. But now, perhaps, you are trying to do a different sort of work at home. In addition to being a writer, I'm the agent for a couple of family LLC's. That means a fairly constant stream of paperwork and phone calls to deal with, in addition to writing, housework, pets and family. By trial and error, I've come up with some things that work for me. They may or may not be helpful to you, especially if you are in a new situation.


1. Start organized. I didn't, of course, but organization has evolved. Not everyone has the luxury of a home office. You may be coping with half the kitchen table or the coffee table. Whatever you have, organize that space. And Start With Ergonomics! Best situation: You are sitting in a chair that supports your lower back. Your feet are flat on the floor. Your hands are level with your keyboard. Your screen is at eye level. (If you have only a laptop, I know you can't do this. So be aware that youa re tipping your head down, and take frequent breaks to stretch your neck.) Lift your eyes often to refocus on infinity out of a window. If you can't do that, at least look around the room. Stand up and stretch when you can.


2. Set attainable goals. You are not going to write a book today. But you can write a scene, or a chapter, maybe even two. Make your goal a measurable one. So many words or pages. Or X number of social emails handled.


3. This one helps me a lot. Do something visible. White board or print out document work. Sometime in the day, clean a window, bake a loaf of bread, weed a corner of your garden. Any task that you can look at tomorrow morning and say, 'Well, I got that done. What's next?" It's great for my morale to have an accomplishment I can see.


4. Allow for family members. In our current situation, you may have a spouse or kids racketing around while you are trying to achieve what you used to do in a work situation. Accept that you cannot duplicate that. If you have kids, set a timer or choose an hour, and do something that focuses on them. Turn on the radio/stereo and rock out with all of them. Play a game, bake some cookies, read a story. If little kids know they are guaranteed a chunk of your time, it helps them to be more patient. You will get more done despite taking family breaks.


5. Do it now. Whatever 'it' is. Start with email, perhaps. Sort, discard, and answer what needs an answer. If bills came in, pay them now. Face the revisions and get them done. Process and file any mail that comes in. Don't let anything stack up. If there is anything you hate or dread, make yourself do it first and get it over with.


6. This is the Mom lecture part. You will need to take regular breaks. Don't let it be an alcohol/nicotine break every time. It becomes a ritual, and it can greatly increase your consumption. Have a lovely cup of tea. Have a stretching routine. Take the dog out into the yard.


7. I hope this is helpful to someone! As always, what works for me may not for you!

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