The great thing about working from home is that you can combine business with pleasure in a way that you simply cannot ordinarily do in a formal ‘business’ environment. But there is more to this than simply taking it easy.
Most of us don’t work like robots. Most of us have peaks and troughs in our productivity and our level of concentration during the course of the average day. That is especially true of the sort of intellectual (as opposed to manual) work that those of us who work from home do. What is more, staring at a Word or an Excel document for hours at a time can be every bit as damaging to your creativity as it is to your eyesight. Trying to force out the next idea or the next spark of inspiration can sometimes be the hardest thing of all. Taking your mind off the job for a few minutes can be every bit as productive as a well-crafted mind map.
We all need to take a break from time to time.
The great thing about the digital age is that we can overlap activities in a way that is as efficient for us as living breathing human beings as it is for balancing the emails, the invoices and the tax return. Everybody does things differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all for how you as the person reading this will maximise the efficiency, the economy and the vitality of your breaks.
Some people will thrive on an extended break in the middle of the day. They may relish the chance to take in some fresh air, to get out and run, walk or socialise for half-an-hour.
Others may see that as a wasteful use of time that could be spent cramming in yet another piece of work. They may, instead, take a series of micro-breaks throughout the day, flipping between their email and their spread betting account, or balancing their workload with celebrity news and gossip or the latest offerings of Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.
Making it pay
The spread betting example is an illustrative one in that it offers an immediate form of escapism. Most spread bets are over and done in a matter of minutes, and ordinarily they are not restricted to prescheduled events. That means whenever you get the urge for a few minutes of relief from the daily grind, you can access it at just a moment’s notice. This does come with the potential to generate sizeable wins. The rest of the working day can take on a wholly different flavour if you’ve already banked a handy profit.
And take out the spread betting part, since it already talks about spread betting anyway. Do you think that would help?
Striking an emotional chord
Psychologists have found that to fully gain from a short break in work a person needs to experience some form of emotional reaction that is unconnected with the task they are undertaking. Whether that comes in the form of a familiar connection via social media or the heady rush of excitement that comes with a bet of some sort, it is capturing an emotional moment that is the secret to a successful break.
In an office environment the to-ing and fro-ing of office life delivers that modulated emotional experience as a matter of course. Different people, different relationships – and potential relationships – make the traditional workspace a hotbed of emotional peaks and troughs. That emotional variation is simply not part of the picture when sitting alone at home. It has to be generated as a matter of self-conscious personal self-management.
A good radio play or your favourite tune on the airwaves might help. But being able to access the full range of opportunities that the internet allows is not as bad, as destructive or as distracting as some people would have you believe. It’s only robots who can get through the day without an emotional boost every now and again.