When you work from home suddenly your private space becomes your office. One day the kitchen table is where your inspiration finds a home. Another day your porch swing offers an inviting day of productivity. Sometimes you’ll even hide out in the second bedroom, plucking away on the laptop while lounging on the futon.
As E.B. White said:
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
You learn to make any condition an ideal condition.
The problem with merging your work world and your private world is that it becomes difficult to create a definitive line between work time and personal time. Suddenly you’ll realize that you’ve just spent 13 hours in one spot, forgetting to eat, forgetting to go to the bathroom, and working in complete silence because you also forgot to turn on the radio. This is what I call The Red Zone and it can be great for getting a lot of inspired work accomplished in a short time.
However, it can also lead to burn out, most especially if you are trying to force your inspiration due to a deadline.
Suddenly, instead of every place in your home looking like a potential workspace, every seat, table, or desk begins to look like a torture chamber.
This is when you need to make yourself take a break. Unless your deadline is in mere hours you have time to take a short break and refresh.
I did this last week. I went to Starbucks for an hour to regroup and refresh the creative engine in my brain.
I tweeted about it.
Taking a creativity break at @Starbucks. Sometimes you just need to step away from the screen, you know?
— Mandi Lindner (@MandiMLindner) February 28, 2014
And then I got free coffee.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) February 28, 2014
The moral of the story? Know when to give yourself a break. If you’ve been staring at the screen for more than 30 minutes, have read all of the latest listicles on Buzzfeed and STILL can’t get motivated to pick up a project, maybe it’s time to throw in the towel for a bit. Move on to another project that peaks your interest. Take a walk around the block. Make a cup of coffee. Just do something that takes your brain out of the moment of frustration, hopefully jumpstarts it, and then come back to your work later.
If you work from home like I do chances are you work more than you relax anyway.