Monday, 22 July 2013

Working from Home

At some point last summer, just before the Olympics, The Guardian published an article with tips on ‘working from home’. I clicked on the link eagerly, and was severely disappointed: the article offered advice like ‘have a designated work space’, ‘go outside sometimes’, 'tweet with care' and ‘snack sensibly’ (I paraphrase.) Nothing about anything that actually matters: nothing about the inner resistance, the woeful staring out of the window at the summer sunshine, the feeling that you are wasting your time, the difficulty in getting started and in focusing, the hundred-and-one completely irrelevant thoughts of seemingly urgent business that overwhelm you and distract you from your task as soon as you sit down to it. Nothing about the compulsive need to check Facebook, or read The Guardian every three minutes. I turned away, disgusted. This person meant well, but clearly just didn’t have a clue.

So I would like to turn your attention to an article written by someone with a much better understanding of the real perils of working from home. He knows about the staring out of the window, and the frustration of thinking that, if you were somehow better and quicker at your job, you would be able to go out on a bike ride round about now, and you’ve only got yourself to blame if it’s not working. I am also a fan of this guy’s ‘Pomodoro Technique’ (which goes like this: get one of those tomato-shaped timers, or any timer, and set it to 25 minutes. Do not stop working for those 25 minutes; when the timer goes off, have a 5-minute break. Try segmenting your work like this, with breaks, and every time you do four Pomodoros, have a longer break. You will notice that my Procrastination Bible does a similar thing, encouraging you to think about your work in half-hour chunks. Try it – it sort of works for me, although I know that some days just sitting through one single half-hour of PhD takes a heroic effort.)

Good luck!

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