I can’t control myself. I want to do so many things, and I want to do them now!
I have a habit of getting over excited about life, like a little kid looking at toppings at an ice cream social. Working on multiple projects simultaneously, reading a stack of books on rotation, having numerous new passions and interests. At first look, it seems as though I’m just a very energetic and enthusiastic person, a regular renaissance woman. But if you dig deeper, there is more to it all.
I think for me, this diversity of interests is symptomatic of working from home. When you work in a place with many other people, you take short breaks between tasks, stopping to chat to a colleague at the proverbial water fountain, taking a short walk, going to a meeting. Working from home in the suburbs can be problematic when you want to take a short brain break or need a change of scenery. What do you do? Your options are limited. Most things you could do for a break (take a walk, talk to your mum on the phone, have a snack, run errands) have the potential to end up spiralling into a much longer break than you can actually afford to have. With no colleagues or boss to keep you in check, it is too easy to end up slacking off, and so very difficult to get back into the flow of your work. There are two options for people like me: #1. Never take a break, or the infinitely preferable #2. Switch it up. You know what they say…
A change is as good as a break
I just switch between projects, or choose something to do that classifies as a brain break, but that I don’t associate with slacking off. Something I can pass off as ‘skill development’ or ‘self improvement’ and not feel too guilty about. Something that doesn’t make me relax too much, or for too long, you get my drift? But sometimes this can grow out of control, and there you have it, too many pots on the boil at the same time .
In case you are in doubt about the magnitude and proliferation of my interests. Here is a list of what I generally get up to:
I can’t just have one job, no, no, no. I split my work into seasons. Fall and Winter, I am a maker, I screen print, paint and sew products, and sell them at local shows and markets. In the Summer, I am an art teacher and run my own Visual Arts camps full time. In the Spring time I write curriculum for my camps, deal with enrollment and office admin, and work on my own book illustration projects (I have three on the go). Also, every now and then, I write this blog, but as I probably have a readership of 4 people, and don’t earn anything from it, maybe I shouldn’t classify that as work! I’m considering throwing another job into the mix, watch this space.
I love books, and libraries, and literature; they keep my Mojo going. I am currently reading three books, one at bed time, one on weekends, and one very slowly. In addition to this, I’m listening to two audiobooks, one in my car, and one at home while I screen print, because I can’t afford my own butler to read books to me while I print. Sigh.
I have two canvases leaning against the far wall of my bedroom that I work on sporadically. I draw in a sketchbook every evening until my hands start feeling numb. I am teaching myself to embroider, I have two mural projects scheduled for this winter, and guess what? I have taken up knitting just for the hell of it.
All that in addition to the following pre/post work activities: I volunteer at my kids’ school library once a week (because I harbor a secret yearning to be a librarian), I coach at a school Fitness program once a week (because sports with first graders is hilarious!). I do Yoga twice a week, swim with my kids, and Zumba whenever I can (because I have a serious sweet tooth).
Time to simplify my life?
I’m a pretty laid back human, despite not being idle very often. However, I do tell my kids that it’s a good thing to be idle from time to time, so maybe it’s time I listened to my own advice.
I do know that, diversifying too much can stop you from really focusing on and gaining mastery of specific skills. So I’m going to try to find the correct balance for myself, and learn more about less. I love to learn new things, so I won’t be simplifying my life too much though!
I’d love to hear advice from other people working from home. What practices help you stay sane(ish) and productive?