That work/life balancing act

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The crack of dawn on a Monday morning, when the schools have just gone back and my street is so quiet you can hear the first autumn leaves fall, is the ideal time to contemplate how work is going to shape up this year. 


It’s not easy to get motivated when working from home, as anyone with a kettle will know. It’s amazing the magnetic pull this domestic appliance acquires as soon as you sit down with a blank screen in front of you.

But, once you get going (says she, taking a sip from a freshly-made cup of tea), it’s amazing how productive you can be in your own space, in your own time. There are no water-cooler-discussion distractions, no pointless meetings, no time wasted commuting. And, most importantly of all, you can organise your time to suit yourself.

In my case, it’s not so much myself I’m suiting, but everyone else, and I imagine most home-working mothers are the same. A deadline set by your boss is one thing – getting everything finished in time for the school run is actually the law set in stone.

Like most journalists, I tend to fidget around until the deadline is looming fairly large. Years ago I worked at the Daily Telegraph in Fleet Street, when the printing presses were in the basement of the building and would start to rumble at about 4pm every afternoon. Until that time, we were all milling about, doing plenty of chatting, ahem, research, but once you could feel the physical vibrations of the presses in the basement through the floor of the newsroom, the place would fall silent, except for the thump of fingers on old-fashioned typewriter keys. The presses needed words to print, and we had to provide them, it was as simple as that.

School run time for me has got later and later, as the children have grown up, but now, though I don’t technically even have to be around, as Child 2 gets the coach home, I still feel a sense of purpose gathering as the afternoon looms.

One of the things we home workers do lack is the sense of camaraderie that comes from an office environment. But in these social media-infested days, you are only ever a tweet away from a gaggle of potentially like-minded folk. And this is where clever organisations like Hiive come in too. Hiive, a professional network for the creative industries, not only posts job opportunities but also provides a space for people to come together, discuss and collaborate – essential stuff for creative types. It’s also easy to sign up and get started, which really helps, and you can migrate details in from other platforms, like LinkedIn, which cuts down on drudgery. Nothing kills a dynamic resume like having to type it 15 times.

Working from home isn’t for everyone. You need to have discipline, focus and a very sturdy kettle. And that reminds me. My mug is empty.

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