So, it turns out that working from home doesn’t mean that you can stay in your pajamas’s all day everyday.
I was home-schooled for four years so I sort of knew the drill when I decided to finish my degree via a correspondence course. Basically, I knew that it was a hell of a lot of work. I knew that I would actually have to get up in the morning instead of lying in bed until noon. I knew that I would have to establish a routine for myself in order to actually get anything done. And I knew that if it all went wrong, it was all on me.
The problem is that those things aren’t universally true. Well, except for the last one. If I fail, it really is all on me and the work that I did or didn’t do. The whole thing about putting on actual clothes and getting up early so that I can go to gym, have a healthy breakfast and sit down to work before 9am is only true some of the time. Most days I can – and should – do that. Most of the time I feel good about sticking to my self-imposed schedule and most days that schedule makes me more productive. You can’t do the whole work/study from home thing without some sort of structure. At least I can’t.
However, the reality is that it is really hard to motivate yourself all of the time. I can do it a lot of the time but I can’t do it every single day. I feel like I sound like a bit of a whiny spoilt brat when I say that but it’s true. In some ways it is a lot harder to work from home because (a) I am putting intense pressure on myself because there is no one else to blame if everything goes wrong/no one else to shoulder some of the work for me and (b) I have to self-motivate all the time. Self-motivation takes it out of you. So the reality of working from home is that you have to obey the golden rule of actually putting on pants most of the time but not all of it. Are you with me so far?
In essence, working from home is a balancing act. You have to be able to push yourself to get up most days. To get dressed. To go out. To get stuff done. But some days you have to be able to say to yourself: I’m tired and I need to slow down. Then you have to recognize that the beauty of working from home is that you can. If I feel like I need to work from bed for the next few days, I can do that. If I feel like I need to have a lie in tomorrow, no one is going to complain. I get to prioritize my mental, emotional and physical health in ways that people who study/work in a more conventional environment don’t get to do. Unfortunately, with that comes guilt. I feel like I should be up early and working long hours, like I should be pushing myself harder than everyone else because I am in a more privileged position than them in a lot of ways. The problem is that I then become unbalanced and the structure that I have forced into place starts to fail me. What is the point of having the privilege of being able to slow down and put myself first if I don’t take it?
This morning I stayed in bed and worked from there. I didn’t put any pressure on myself as to how much I had to get done. I just let myself get comfortable and do as much as I could. I eased into my week gently. For the rest of the week, I will be up at half five in the morning so that I can beat the traffic and make it to therapy or to the gym. So that I actually see some people and get out of the house. Then I have to come back and make sure that I actually get some work done. But the point is that I am learning to balance myself, to regulate my schedule. I have to push myself most days – but not every day.