It’s been about eight years since I started working from home, although that doesn’t mean that I never leave the house (why, only the December before last…). Most, but not all of my work is online. About three years ago, I was also working in Falmouth on a couple of days a week, on their MA in Professional Writing – and since the main aim of the MA is to get books published, and often books which are practical, it was nice to go the launch of an ex-student’s guide to working from home. She’s called Judy Heminsley, and her web-site is here. I wish I’d had the book when I started out. It’s full of sound and sensible advice, and warm and witty with it.
There are many temptations when you’re working from home, and the number one temptation is not to work, or perhaps that should be, to kid yourself that you’re working. It took me a while to develop a way of making my home my work-place, and to issue myself with rules. One of them was never to go into the front room, and never to sit down in the kitchen, but to visit it to make tea, before returning to the screen. Yet another thing, which I’ve managed less well, is to ensure that you keep some contact with the rest of the world. It’s not just that working from home can be lonely, but that you can convince yourself that it isn’t really, and that you don’t actually need to meet other people. And it is still true that, if I do find myself with other people en masse (more than three), I find myself talking nineteen to the dozen. I am compensating for the hours spent in my head, a habitat where I am now overfamiliar with the peculiar flora and fauna.
Here’s the book:
and here’s the author holding the book –
What I like about the book is the mixture of sound advice and quick examples – not least the tips about thanking the people you work with, and the wise advice to obey an instinct to take a rest, or even a sleep, if that’s what your body tells you that you need. It’s also a clean and clear book – you don’t ever get plunged into long or florid passages of prose. It’s a book you could read through, refer back to, or dip into: and above all, it never once patronises the reader.
Now of course, I am going to be biased. But there is one way in which I can prove to you that I’m right. Buy the book. (A second way would be to look at the web-site, which sets the tone.) I came away from the book wondering how I had ever thought that working anywhere else was a good thing.
At one point, Judy advises that getting a pet is not a bad idea, but that starting a business and getting a pet at the same time is a very bad idea. Pet. I am still not sure. Am I too old for a goldfish?