I was taught that to successfully work from home required discipline and boundaries. The work day should carefully reflect the expectations of a traditional office… except without a dress code. (Working in pajamas isn’t a myth, it’s more like a rite of passage.)
Anyway, since I knew that model worked so well previously, I’ve tried to continue it while self-employed. I avoid mixing professional and personal tasks during traditional business hours. I don’t try to clean house while checking emails, I don’t run errands during the middle of the day, and I’m usually not watching TV while I’m working (usually). It may not necessarily inspire creativity, but I do try to keep myself at my desk all afternoon and keep working even if I don’t exactly feel like it. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t get anything done. And I’ve got plenty on my to-do list.
But I never really understood the idea that sometimes it’s good to walk away from a project. I haven’t had anything that required that much creative energy before. But it really does happen. I’ll be working on a piece and know it’s not finished, but can’t figure out what’s left. That’s incredibly frustrating! And in these newly occurring moments, I want to sit there and stare at my desk and figure it out through sheer force of will. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes it really does help to just walk away, and I’m having to learn to give myself the room to do so. It’s a fairly short leash to be sure, and usually looks a lot like eating ice cream on the couch and re-watching a favorite TV show. But I’ve decided that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up (which is even more so my instinctual tendency). It doesn’t even technically mean I’m not working… Okay, in that moment I’m not technically working. But it’s still okay…
I’m learning it all tends to balance out in the end. So, don’t get too jealous, office peeps! I may shut down early one day and marathon Playing House or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. And I may feel really bad about it too. But then, it’ll be like a Saturday afternoon with nothing going on and all I’ll want to do is draw. I’ll finally have figured out how to finish a piece, or come up with an idea for a new one. Sometimes I won’t even know what I want to work on in particular, but know that it wouldn’t hurt to use that time to be productive…But either way, it’s Saturday and I’m back at work…
What I forget is that boundaries go both ways. Sure, I need to make sure I’m not distracted by cleaning house when I’m supposed to be working on something (as if I would be soooo tempted anyway), but then again, just because I’m in my office or have spare time doesn’t mean I have to spend it working either. Weekend or not.
It takes balance, and I’m learning.