Every artist, writer or otherwise creative person has them—daily rituals that get them in the zone to create great work (or meh-work on those days when we can’t really get it together no matter what rituals we do). When I get to work, I need a cup of coffee, a quick glance through my emails and a scan of news articles in Fast Company or links on Twitter. At least that’s my ritual now. Next week, I begin working remotely from one of my most favorite places on the planet—Northern California.
Yes, I’ll begin my day with fog, redwoods and perhaps even rain, all of which I’ll have the privilege of greeting in my slippers. However, working from home has made me rethink my daily rituals, especially since my commute will be down the hall instead of across town. While I know I’ll be plugged into my computer at my desk from 8am to 5pm, the question is how will I organize my day? Should I organize it to write in the morning, when my brain is fresh and do research and other upkeep stuff in the afternoon? Should I divide writing equally during the day, especially on those days that I can squeeze a run in at lunch? And how should I deal with interruptions? Thomas Mann forbade his children to make noise during his writing time (good luck explaining that to a one year old).
While many think that working from home provides for greater freedom from working in an office, the opposite is often true. You have to be more regimented working at home than you do in an office, unless your manager loves to micromanage. When you work in an office, it’s assumed that you’re doing work, but how much time to office workers spend surfing the Internet? According to a survey, 64% of employees visit non-work related websites every day, with 21% spending 5 hours per week doing so (and those are numbers they will admit to!) When they’re not on Facebook, they’re on LinkedIn and shopping on Amazon. And the younger the employee, the more time they spend fiddling around on the Internet on company time. While there are some home-based slackers who spend more time surfing the Web than being productive, working from home actually forces most people to focus on the tasks at hand and become more productive.
A few jobs ago, we were required to work from home one day a week, and I got more done in that day than I did the entire week. In fact, I would try to get all of my writing and other brain work cranked out in that one day because I knew that whatever I wrote in the office would be crap (the whole company was squeezed into one big warehouse room, with the creative on one side and sales on the other. It was supposed to breed camaraderie; however, it just made us hate the sales team more because they would walk laps around our half of the building, chatting and selling over their headsets.).
I’m excited to boost my productivity and crank out some of my best writing (ideally). In the meantime, what are your pre-creative time habits?