For the last seven years, I've worked from home. There are masses of benefits as anyone doing the same thing will agree. I can wander around in jeans and a jumper, I can wash my hair in the afternoon if I feel like it and I can take off to the shops if I suddenly get the urge for a bit of retail therapy. It's all good stuff, but...
Of course there is a 'but', and for me it's the fact that all too often I tend to become housebound. I know, that sounds ridiculous, I can walk out any time I choose. And there's the rub. If I'm not at my desk - or very close to it, I become overwhelmed by a feeling of guilt. I feel that I should sit there and BE USEFUL.
It must be some kind of throw-back to the years spent at school and at work, when you had a desk and you duly sat behind it, behaving yourself (most of the time) until you were allowed to go home. How deep does that feeling go? I know very well that I'm my own woman, I can make my own decisions and when I do what, is entirely up to me. Sometimes that works, but if I'm honest, it's not always how it pans out.
I tend to find that the guilt builds up gradually. It's worst on the days when I don't have a big deadline to make. Yes, I was one of those children who did all her homework on Sunday evenings. Not having anything that has to be done on a particular day, leaves me with the dilemma of what I should do instead. Should I sit at my desk and develop my business, or should I take off and have fun? Well naturally my internal work ethic voice is telling me to be productive. But then when I try to be useful, my mind wanders around. That can go on for hours and hours, I might even have a few days like that. Then I'll suddenly realise that I'm losing my motivation, I'm feeling low.
What's the answer? Well, I've come to realise that the simple answer is to get out of the house. It's not healthy to be cooped up with only your own brain for company for too long without a break. Working alone at home, means no photocopier to hang around with friends, no gossip (unless you're Facebook-ing instead of 'working') and if you're not very disciplined, no lunch break.
So take a tip from me. Allocate yourself time every day to get out of the house. Go and buy a paper, a pint of milk, or just walk around the block. It doesn't matter where you go, just go out. A break and a bit of air has a restorative effect - and with winter not far off, it's even more important to look after yourself.
There is no law that says you have to spend the day at the desk when you're your own boss - give yourself permission to chill.