I laughed out loud yesterday when I read this tweet:
I tweeted this a few days ago as a joke and people took it way more seriously than I thought they would:
Yesterday, @hhavrilesky posted a legitimately helpful thread about working from home, and while reading her tips (“stick to a schedule,” “[take] advantage of early morning hours,” “turn off your wi-fi,” exercise, “create a clear end to your work day”) it occurred to me that my book, Keep Going, because it is partly about overcoming the endlessness and occasional monotony of creative work, doubles as a manual overcoming some of the obstacles of working from home.
Here are 10 tips taken straight from the book, along with excerpts and quotes:
1. Take one day at a time.
“None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.”
2. Establish a daily routine.
A daily routine will get you through the day and help you make the most of it. “A schedule defends from chaos and whim,” writes Annie Dillard. “It is a net for catching days.” When you don’t know what to do next, your routine tells you.
3. Make lists.
“I make lists to keep my anxiety level down. If I write down fifteen things to be done, I lose that vague, nagging sense that there are an overwhelming number of things to be done, all of which are on the brink of being forgotten.”
4. You can be woke without waking to the news.
There’s almost nothing in the news that any of us need to read in the first hour of the day. When you reach for your phone or your laptop upon waking, you’re immediately inviting anxiety and chaos into your life. You’re also bidding adieu to some of the most potentially fertile moments in the life of a creative person.
5. Airplane mode can be a way of life.
You don’t need to be on a plane to practice airplane mode: Pop in some cheap earplugs and switch your phone or tablet to airplane mode, and you can transform any mundane commute or stretch of captive time into an opportunity to reconnect with yourself and your work.
6. Stay light. Play.
“You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO . . . Try to do some BAD work—the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell—you are not responsible for the world—you are only responsible for your work—so DO IT.”
—Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse
7. When in doubt, tidy up.
The best thing about tidying is that it busies my hands and loosens up my mind so that I either a) get unstuck or solve a new problem in my head, or b) come across something in the mess that leads to new work.
8. Naps are a secret weapon.
Me, I like the “caffeine nap”: Drink a cup of coffee or tea, lie down for fifteen minutes, and get back to work when the caffeine has kicked in.
9. Demons hate fresh air.
Walking is good for physical, spiritual, and mental health. “No matter what time you get out of bed, go for a walk,” said director Ingmar Berman to his daughter, Linn Ullmann. “The demons hate it when you get out of bed. Demons hate fresh air.”
10. Finish each day and be done with it.
“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Read more in the book. Hang in there, y’all!