We’re all going to die. That’s what the newspapers are saying. Coronavirus is eating it’s way across the face of the globe and if that doesn’t get us, there’s an asteroid due in April. Truly, we live in interesting times.
I don’t mean to make light of grave circumstances. Well, I do, but only so we can all share a laugh instead of screaming into a cushion and awaiting death. What I mean to say is that I appreciate the seriousness of the Coronavirus pandemic and I too have been following the news, wondering if and when it will hit my area and how we’ll cope. Anxiety is the word of the day for much of the world’s population right now and that’s completely understandable, although why people are panic buying toilet roll by the hundredweight completely baffles me. Perhaps they’re building forts. I want to build a fort. I digress…
One of the ways in which many are attempting to curb the spread of Covid-19 is by self isolating which, for some, includes working from home. As an IT professional of many years and a rage fuelled shut-in with shitty pain sticks where my legs should be, I have more than a little experience with the home office environment. What’s more, i’ve recently been made redundant and am trying to launch myself as a fully self employed IT consultant/struggling writer/media guru/alternative cam model* so currently all my work is done either at home or anywhere that has wi-fi and coffee strong enough to make you smell colours and see music.
There have been several posts recently across various outlets, offering tips on the best ways to work from home while remaining efficient and professional. The Independent published a particularly good piece which highlights several useful methods which will ensure that you get that big report in on time, instead of watching three seasons of NCIS in your Sesame Street pants while eating half a bag of expired midget gems you found in the back of the cupboard.
The only issue I have with this or any other article about working from home is that each person is unique and as such what helps one may hinder another. While I wholly agree that much of the Independent post is hugely beneficial, a differing mindset might find these methods restrictive and as such would seek a different approach. Bearing that in mind, I decided to compile my own top five tips for maintaining an efficient and professional home office.
1) CLOTHING STIFLES CREATIVITY
Working in a public environment requires one to cover up and whether that involves a fast food uniform or a three piece suit, I think we can all agree that any form of clothing is rarely as comfortable as wandering about buck ass naked with a cool breeze keeping your nethers refreshed. Do not get dressed!
If you have to make a Skype call, it is acceptable to wear the upper portion of your usual attire to protect those of a fragile disposition from becoming incensed by an errant nipple. For answering the door, shorts. Other than that, let your creativity flow and your cock and balls show, as they say on Wall Street. Obviously, the use of male genitals was just for the flow of the sentence. Whatever your gender, what’s really important here is not to allow man made fibres or cotton blends to come between you and the next big idea.
Let’s say you’re working on a big presentation for the board of directors. You have to give them seven ways to sell the brand new combination food processor and electric razor which your research department has been excitedly yipping about since last quarter. You’re sat on your sofa, wearing an uncomfortably itchy, pressed white shirt, blood-flow restricting tie and a suit jacket which is far too thick. You’ve got the heating on, for heaven’s sake. You’re sat there like a fashionable boil in the bag dinner, slowly stewing in your own sweat. Do you want to dehydrate and get eaten by your cat? DO YOU?!
Now imagine you’re naked. A gentle wind soothes your warm skin and you don’t even mind that it’s caused by the draught from the window tht your landlord refuses to fix, the bastard. Nothing is itching and if it does, you have easy access to scratch it. Looking down across your body, resplendent in all it’s flawed glory, you realise that you would like nothing more than to trim that unsightly bush while simultaneously preparing coleslaw. A relateable marketing pitch, your bonus and new company car are secure! Maude and the kids will be thrilled and you can finally take that trip to the Swansea Orthodontic Museum, just like you’ve always dreamed.
2) DISTRACTIONS ARE BAD…UNLESS THEY’RE GOOD
They say a happy worker is a productive worker. Personally, nothing makes me happier than a big bowl of salted popcorn and several hours on my (probably naked) arse, watching the latest series of Brooklyn Nine Nine or finally catching up on Criminal Minds.
I know what you’re thinking, folks. How the hell am I getting any work done if i’m filling my face with snacks and watching hour after hour of Amazon Prime and Netflix? Well, i’m not. Not a single scrap of work gets done and I eventually crack a tooth on an unpopped kernel, which leads to several more hours of downtime while I wrench out the remaining fragments of my molar with a rusty pair of pliers. Not very helpful, huh?
Wrong! You’re not seeing the bigger picture, here. Sure, nothing gets done during the day but come the night i’m well rested, full of popcorn and painkillers thanks to the home dentistry, pumped full of caffeinated beverages of all kinds and ready to crack on. I’m not burning the candle at both ends, i’m burning it at one end and then taking a blowtorch to it by night and screaming a curse against all wax based lighting!
Eventually, you crash. There’s a downside to everything in life. You can, however, feel secure in the knowledge that as you’re being carted off to hospital and treated for dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, codeine overdose and gum central blood poisoning, Geoff in accounts is cutting you a fat cheque. Good old Geoff.
3) REALISTIC GOALS ARE FOR LOSERS
I understand why you might think an attainable goal is a good way to motivate yourself. You aim for 1oo words of copy by lunchtime and when you realise that after research and drafting, you’ve actually written 250 words and sourced royalty free stock photos for that website you’re working on, you feel good.
Good is…good, amazing is fucking fantastic. Imagine if you’d set a ludicrous goal and by some feat of miraculous efficiency twinned with sleep deprived hysteria, you actually pull it off. You’ve created the entire website, set up a broad spectrum social media profile and managed to double company profits before you’ve had a chance to dig out the half block of mature cheddar that will serve as lunch because you forgot to buy bread and can’t be arsed to boil an egg.
There is a yawning void between good and great. It’s like comparing the wistful smile as you enjoy the delicate scent of a flower with the brain-frying high of mainlining amphetamines and pure human growth hormone, while skydiving from 40,000 feet without a parachute and tied to three of the best motivational speakers that ever masked their own failures by highlighting those of others. Geronimo!
The downside is that you might not achieve your ridiculous and unattainable targets but hey, they were ridiculous and unattainable so how is that your fault? Why not wriggle your naked arse further into the armchair and pop on an episode of Bake Off, you’ve earned it.
4) HUMANITY IS THE ENEMY
I prefer to avoid the human race at the best of times but I can see why Karen Eyre-White recommends some level of social interaction while working from home. Sometimes even I start to get a little stir crazy when talking to myself and that’s when I head out into the world to remind myself why I hate heading out into the world. At the very least i’ll pick up a phone and spend ten minutes chatting to friends and family, realising as I do so that text messaging is a thing and this voice call malarkey is for old people.
Obviously when one is self isolating due to infectious disease running roughshod o’er the land, it’s best to limit these social interactions to telephone and internet but even then you run the risk of being exposed to an even greater danger. Stupidity. It’s everywhere and it’s getting worse, so why not go the whole hog and cut yourself off from all but the most essential contacts. Email your boss, but refuse to answer personal questions. Your aunt is calling to talk about her recent hip operation? Hang up, you don’t need that in your life. People will take up valuable work / naked Netflix time and that’s a no-go in your brand new, one person isolation pod and survival bunker.
5) NO BREAKS! YOU STOP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD!
I know this seems to contradict point two, but it is vital to maintain a delicate balance. I mean, really delicate. Like balancing a baby on the tip of a broadsword.
Sure, i’ll spend eight hours alternating between laughter and tears as Ross and Rachel drag me through their classic off-on-off-on-fuck sake will you two either get married or fight to the death shenanigans. I’ll cover myself with an inappropriately small towel as the delivery man brings a kebab which I try to squash between the ravaged remnants of my self-butchered chompers, determined to squeeze in Police Academy 5 before I return to my desk. That’s all fine.
When I do finally sit down in front of my laptop, that’s it. For hour after bleary eyed hour I will type until my fingers look like chunks of Pepperami smeared with lovely raspberry jam. I’m throwing back co-codamol and ibuprofen for the ever threatening migraine, washed down with cold cups of coffee so potent that it has a radioactive half life to rival any mutant wandering the streets of Chernobyl. This is how success happens! THIS IS HOW YOU WIN AT LIFE! I AM THE MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE! ALL HAIL AL, GREAT KING OF THE Nsin3onelkn
Sorry. I typed that last section after six hours of non-stop writing, fueled by three cans of some sort of energy drink and a sandwich which I think was bread between two pieces of bread. Yeah, you’ll probably lose your mind at some point following point five but everything up to the all caps breakdown will be gold . The rest you can edit when you wake up, cold and afraid in the cupboard under the stairs, clutching a framed photograph of Mark Lamarr which you don’t remember ever seeing in the house before this moment.
In conclusion, I have a very unhealthy approach to work and you should take heed of the advice offered in the Independent article. Karen Eyre-White clearly knows what she’s talking about and i’m just a tired, nude man with a headache larger than my head and a smile that looks like an exploded piano.
DISCLAIMER: This is comedy. An attempt at comedy, anyway. All of the advice above is utter bollocks and if you should follow any of it, i’m not responsible for ill health, loss of life, damage to property or bizarre cases of cattle mutilation in your local area. Read it, have a laugh and then go do something sensible like wash your hands. If you want a sensible list of suggestions, might I recommend this blog post from @hazywanders. Good stuff!