I woke up this morning and just thought ‘Nah! I have no inclination whatsoever to look at, let alone do anything off my to-do list’.
Before I quit my job in June my biggest fear was that I would end up sleeping in and watching daytime tv. Ha – no chance. It’s gone completely the other way. Last year my friend Lee bought me a fabulous personal planning book called the ‘Inspire Now Journal’, I’m now onto my second one. You use it to document long term goals, to short term goals to weekly goals and then finally daily.
I literally never have a day off – alright, I get that it’s different to working full time but my head is full of so many ideas it’s useful to have a daily to-do list to keep me on track AND make sure I have some time out. But as I said – today, it just wasn’t happening! And I love I can do that. And so because I didn’t follow my to-do list today I used some of my new found free time to make a list of all the great things about not working in an office and then the challenges. Surprisingly they’re very balanced. Anyway I thought I’d share.
I start the morning off really well – every day. I never set the alarm. I just wake up naturally around 6.45am – I get up and let Rex out and give him his breakfast, make myself a cup of tea and then go back to bed and read the newspaper page to page (and the supplements!) I’m usually finished around 8.30am. I’ve recently got into the habit of then getting up and going for a run with Rex, not too far – just a couple of kilometres but I feel I set myself up well for the day – keeping myself informed and getting the heart beat going for the day ahead.
I get Rex out a couple of times a day – the lunchtime / early afternoon walks are fabulous. As readers will know he’s one of the reasons why I quit the corporate life so I could spend more time with him. I never really took lunch breaks when I worked – just popped out to Wasabi and came straight back in and ate at my desk. Friends of mine do walking lunches now which I think is a super idea. And in effect I do the same, it’s not a strict time it’s just when I’ve finished something on the to-do list and I’m ready for a break. We go out for an hour or two (weather dependent.) It really clears the mind. One of my local parks has super views of my old office and The City and I can see the floor I worked on and often wonder whether any of my ex colleagues are looking out and see that patch of green in the distance that I’m stood on…
But that can make me feel a little bit lonely – I miss them. I loved the buzz of the office. I was probably one of the loudest, I liked conversation, wanted to have some fun, I’d often just get up and go and chat to other people just to get a change of scenery and different views. I liked a gossip, I liked a laugh and well, when you work for yourself mainly at home you don’t get that. I force myself to go out a couple of times a week to a local café or to the local just to be in a different environment or meet new people. It’s quite tough in the cafes – all the self employed are in there with headphones on which I think is a shame as I guess they’re in there for the same reason I am. I also have to remember that nearly all of my friends do work full time and do have other responsibilities and I’m not at the top of their thoughts, out of sight out of mind so to speak – so I’ve learned not to feel sad if I haven’t had a text that day but I have learned to make more effort myself to remind people that I am still here and I would love to chat!
One of my big changes which I love is the way I ‘use’ my flat. It’s a two bed, but the second bedroom I’ve made into an all encompassing study / work area, dining room and spare bedroom (by way of a chair bed which actually just belongs to Rex!). I’ve just had Sky Q installed in here so I can also work whilst having Eastenders or the Jonathan Ross show on in the background – more often or not it’s actually just Radio 2 or Sky News. I work, study and eat in here. I can work in here all day until 10pm at night sometimes and I love it, I love the evenings when I just work under lamplight. I love the flexibility of being able to do that. I never wanted to work in an office until 10pm – having said that when I worked from home at that time I would often do it – just because once you’ve finished it’s only a 20 second walk to your next destination.
Which for me is either the lounge or the kitchen. The lounge has now become my place of calm. The only things I do in the lounge is watch tv, catch up on Vogue (my wonderful monthly escapism pleasure – if only I had the money for those clothes!), read my book or cross stitch. Whilst my phone may be by my side there’s no social media catch ups – it’s just the switch off zone.
The kitchen has become brilliant. I’ve always enjoyed cooking but now I’m really experimenting – from different brunch meals to technical Chinese cooking. I’m loving it and I just never had time to do it before – whereas now I can prep in between working and studying. I feel really creative, I have the tunes on, usually a glass of wine to hand and it’s really good fun.
I like the fact that when I get random ideas I can act on them immediately. But at the same time, one of the challenges is not to get frustrated about the fact that not everything can be done in a day and I can’t achieve everything at once. I use my journal to list what I need to do. I flex sometimes but as long as all the weekly tasks get achieved I don’t mind if it’s on a different day to what was planned. But then some weeks I’m just like ‘oh my – why am I not getting this stuff done?’ And well – sometimes you just get up and your head is not in that job but in the job of buying Christmas presents and there’s not much you can do to change that – although when you’re working full time you don’t have that luxury to spend your working hours not working!
I panic that I’m spending too much money. I then think I should stop panicking about spending too much money – all of it is for sensible purposes (oh ok – I spent out on a brilliant new Christmas jumper last week ha ha!) But… I worked hard to get it and I’m going to work hard to recoup it.
So yeah, overall I think the pros and cons are equal. I’m not earning enough yet but at the moment it doesn’t matter. I’m enriching my lifestyle which is great – I feel healthy. I miss daily interaction incredibly but have become better at instigating it. I have learned how to relax and switch off. I think I’m becoming more creative. But I think once the New Year hits and I go out in force to find work the pattern will shift again but for now I’m still enjoying experimenting with this new world of mine.