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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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Going to the BANK Like a Motherfucking GROWN UP
Lost Girl
catvalente
I am trying a thing.

I'm going to tell you the thing and then you will be like: Cat, that is the lamest thing. The rest of us do that every day. God.

Yes, but I work at home, you see. I know some of you do, too. And you know as I do that this sums up much of the reality of working at home. Awesome, yes, very, and pajamas? Check. Sleeping in? Amazing. Setting my own schedule? Well, I'm not exactly a disciplinnosaur, but yeah, it's good.

But those pajamas can become a prison of slack, and the total lack of anyone yelling at you until you are SUPER LATE and the not interacting with other humans and the utter lack of schedule and the fact that the internets are on 24/7, well, it can make for a CaveCat who just sits in her house and wears lobster pajamas all the time and either works or puts off working until she hates herself so much she talks in the third person. Like, the very picture of Alice over there in the icon. I feel like that all the time. Plus I live on an island? So it's a VERY good excuse to never leave or see anyone ever. Even islanders ask why they never see me. And I say: because I'm working (or feeling guilty about not working) all the time. There's no "off" hours because there are no "on" hours--it's all time I can choose to be awesome with or not and with great responsibility does not always come great power.

(This is so first world problems I kind of want to barf at myself, but I swear to god, no matter what Tim Ferriss says, if you have any kind of work ethic, working at home can become a kind of hell where there is no division of anything in your life, just work that has bled over onto everything else.)

So I am trying a thing.

The first thing was to clean the bedroom. YES I KNOW. I SUCK. But it is a paradox of my life that clutter and mess stress me out to a totally irrational level, yet my personal ability to fight against kipple and untidiness is next to nothing. I fucking failed that roll when I was like nine or something. Maybe it's because when I was a kid I could never do anything right according to my step-parent, and thus had to perform every chore three times (no half-assing it if I did it right the first time, either. I am not kidding. My childhood was hilarious) for two years or so, and ask permission for the privilege. So when I got my own place I was like I WILL DO NONE OF THE THINGS ZERO TIMES. I've gotten better about that but the bedroom is like where my inner give a shit goes to die. 

But I cleaned it! All! and it is beautiful, you know? A lovely room under all that. October is very concerned that her clothes-beds are gone, but other than that, it is a happy place. And the second thing is I am making Dmitri get me up before he leaves (8 am) by making me coffee and putting it on my nightstand at which point I will feel so guilty--he made me coffee! So nice!--that I will drag my ass up. Ha! Guilt, I can use you! (Being an insomniac this is a big challenge for me.) Then! I will put on a WORK OUTFIT like I have a GROWN UP JOB and put on MAKE UP.

The make up is a big deal. Other than at cons I never wear it. But by putting it on I feel more put together and not like a loser. I put LIPSTICK ON, YO. I gotta live up to the lipstick!

I'm still trying to get out of the house by 11, but I think I'm going to have to not check my email in the morning to do that--there's just so much admin stuff to do, especially with a book out in less than two weeks and two tours coming up. Like, obviously I have not gone down to the office (which I lose at the end of the month and I am HEARTBROKEN because I've written two books in there and it is the BEST THING.) yet today. But I will as soon as I finish this post! The lipstick says I have to! And I'll stop at 6, and be a normal person on a normal schedule, because though I am naturally inclined to stay up all night, I don't feel wholesome when I do.

So yes, in some sense this is stupid, to feel proud for cleaning my room and getting dressed and going to work. But working at home, man, it can lead to some serious ruts when you don't have kids to fix your schedule and your work is entirely predicated on future returns. If I start work at midnight, no one will think less of me! But then I will feel gross and shamed for weird internal reasons.

I am sheepish about posting about this, but I'm like, eating right and I even put my hair in a ponytail today. Holy shit. Half the point of having hair this long was that I never had to do anything with it. And blogging = what you had for breakfast, right? (Cereal and coffee--breakfast of sixth grade champions. Isn't it funny that the critique of blogging, then tweeting and FB, has always been "no one cares what you had for breakfast?" As if that's what people are talking about.)

This is how I am beating the demons of working at home.

Also, I downloaded LeechBlock.

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the real problem of never leaving the house is that you never think I have to get this done because I won't have time latter -- sometimes you can get as much done with a full time job.

Yeah, very true. The ferry helps with that to some extent, but also you just say fuck it, I missed the ferry, I'll do it tomorrow and eat ramen tonight or whatever.

I instituted the same sort of discipline ritutal this week so I'd sit down and finish my damn thesis.

Eyeliner, earrings and necklace. Done. on. Must work.


Hope it continues to help!

*high five*

You can do it! And there is nothing there that is remotely silly. When I have worked from home, I also have had to instill this sort of thing, because well, let's just say my own room right now is a disaster area.

It is so easy to get into ruts. Remember this stuff and doing all of it? Choosing to do it? Dude, that makes you made of total awesome.

And because of you, I will put on my own damn lipstick today, because you're right. Gotta live up to the lipstick. I may stencil that on my cube wall...

Go, Cat!!! *cheers for you*

Oh my gods! I have a twinnie! Seriously, you sound just like me! And I live on an island in Maine, too. Thank gods it's MDI and I don't need to rely on the ferry.

I hope to visit there someday soon!

I think: Go you. I don't think it's weird to feel proud of that stuff at all. But I have run into this working-at-home difficulty myself, both when contracting and when job-hunting, and also just the difficulty of being a grownup goddamn it who gets the things done that need doing, even if I hate doing them. Like cleaning. And bureaucracy. I have an ongoing goal called pretty much 'try to suck less' which covers making myself do those things. :-/

Word to all of this. Working at home makes it so easy to just become a total slacker.

This is so not stupid, and this week, I have worked to implement similar.

I find, and I told corvaxgirl the same thing, that the getting up and making yourself up into whatever you wish for that day is an important part of the work from home job. I do not have to wear the shittastic corporate uniform, which for me, consisted of trying to find pants (khakis, slacks, fucking ugly ass pants) that never fit right and a button down something. (I later switched to long skirts, but the top problem was still there as work did not want to see my boobies so much.)

Now? Jeans. Cute black shirts. SHINY GLITTER MAKEUP. Music.

Also? Yeah, the get out of the chair and at last walk for crissake at lunch thing. I need to work on that, do yoga in the morning or something. It really does help.

And GO YOU for this!

Also, if you know other folks who work from home and can meet for lunch or work from your couch, this helps, I find.


Hahahha, yep, this is me too. I have made a rule for myself that I have to go out of the house at least once every day, that I have to get dressed and not just work in my pajamas, and that unless there is a known maintenance window or report that has to be written or something, that at 6 PM I'm done. I second the lunches with others being sanity preserving.

Go you!!

But it is a paradox of my life that clutter and mess stress me out to a totally irrational level, yet my personal ability to fight against kipple and untidiness is next to nothing.

I am so glad to know that this isn't just me! I can't function in clutter but I have no oomph to actually clean it up.

Yep, not weird to feel proud of that stuff.

Writing stupid little things down is surprisingly useful for me. I've taken to making private entries for writing down the littlest of things, where I don't have to make it relevant to anyone but me, but I step outside of myself just enough to describe what's going on. So far (only a few days into the experiment) it's been hugely helpful for both getting things done and noticing what's going on in my head.

Hey, it's a big deal for people who work at home. I've always said, that if I get the chance to work at home, I'm still going to put on nice clothes every day. I do that on weekends, too - I dress up a little. It just makes me feel more like This Is A Thing, you know? I can totally see how the lipstick would do it for you.

Goodonyer, and good luck!

(also, damnit, I have to clean my bedroom)

Rock on! You're doing great!
Since I've been at home for almost a year, I've noticed that I've fallen into slack-but I've been putting out an outfit at night and that helps (1) me a lot.

You've inspired me to put on that lipstick too!


(1) Granted today it is striped socks, skull and rose bloomers and a BPAL shirt, but it is an outfit.

Great post. Makes my pining over whether to modify/sell/melt/burn my little Metal Zone guitar pedal seem insignificant by comparison, but whatever.

Need to clean my bedroom, too, but I typically do that on Fridays, anyway. Along with some other parts of the house that I can do before the evening arrives. (besides, got to make room for some new guitar wanker toys coming in from Amazon, so it's worth the trouble...) :)

If I ever get the chance to work at home, then I'll still put on good clothes. Especially if it involves video conferencing.

Yes to all of this.

And: I put LIPSTICK ON, YO. I gotta live up to the lipstick!

That is me today. I even looked in the mirror and was like, "Well now I have to do something worthwhile."

Some of this is how I coped with having a newborn and depression. Rules: MUST LEAVE HOUSE EVERY DAY! Even if it's to walk around the block. Even if it's COLD.

Leaving requires: clothing and shoes. Important. For a while I was only allowed to wear tie-on shoes otherwise I'd try to weasel into wearing my slippers outside.

My "office" lately has been Whole Foods near me. It's near where I drop off J for childcare, has coffee & internet and there's always a free table, big windows too. Someday I'd like to have a real office. We'll see :)

N.


I've gotten to a point where I need a place with absolutely no distractions and nothing else to do but write. No internet, no delicious snacks a mere couple of bucks away.

I should really clean my bedroom. I too struggle with the weird conditioning of childhood and cleaning. My mother always insisted things had to be done immediately in the morning and everything was ruined forever otherwise.

You know, beating big things by trying to diminish them is not what you're supposed to do with the good stuff.

This isn't a little thing. This isn't stupid. This is something to be proud of, because those traps are tar pits and once they've got you they invite their friend depression and make a huge party out of pushing you down and counting the bubbles.

I think there are more of the rest of us in the tar pits with you than you realize. Me, I'm that glob of long hair about half the country that-a-way, distinguishable mostly by the animal hair on my clothes.

And I, for one (out of many, I am sure), am damned proud of you. See the pride? It's those bubbles right there ;)

You know, beating big things by trying to diminish them is not what you're supposed to do with the good stuff.

As a sidebar: Christ, I could write that on my walls. Thank you for this line, which is true and timely and exactly what I needed right this second. Please allow me to present you a shiny chunk of internets, with a sparkler candle. :)

None of this is silly. I have the option of working from home whenever I need to and I almost never do it because I can't get anything *done* at home. The day stretches out into forever because I feel bad about getting nothing done at home and I've got no reason to stop trying, since I've got nowhere to go.

I joke about my little grey cubicle ("I don't wanna go back in the box!"), but the truth is I *need* the thing and the frame of mind it brings about.

This is just one of the umptybillion ways in which I seem to be broken for modern life. Most of my friends are never not at work. They leave the office, go home, plop down on the couch, open the laptop and check their email, maybe do a few bits of this and that before dinner. It stays on all evening -- you could email them a question about your TPS reports at midnight and expect a response within 15 minutes. Add in a smartphone and God help you -- they'll answer emails on vacation. I can't do it -- too old fashioned, I guess, but I want to work hard at work and then rest without reservation.

Someone above said something about a ritual, and that hit it on the head for me. Yup, I getcha. I'm working on installing similar rituals for my actual at-work time and my at-home work time, because seriously, it's time to kick my ass and get shit done.

Go you. This stuff's not easy, but you seem to be finding things that will make it work for you and THAT'S WHAT MATTERS.

Adorable. And a VERY GOOD DECISION! Lipstick is a great morale builder. As are showers, I've found. So hard to motivate oneself when one is RANK.

I think you inspired me to clean my room today.
And hang up some stuff.
But first, lipstick. :)

I fucking love this. I mean, I'm not trying to revel in the things that bring you discomfort, but I definitely revel in the way you made me laugh while describing them . . . and the whole sordid WFH affair! Thanks :)

So, I'm one of those people with the copious amounts of scheduled stuff (office job, kid, etc.) and I used to think "man, if only I worked at home, I'd have all this time to make art and write poetry and be creative and blah blah blah. Then I got laid off in the big Fuck-You of '08 and was unemployed for nearly six months. Obviously I looked for work, but that didn't take up much of the day because there was no work to actually look for -- like snipe hunting.

Anyway, I discovered something about myself during those nearly six months -- the schedule thing is GOOD FOR ME (and the work complaint was just a BS excuse). With no place to go and nothing to do and no money to do it with I did not turn into a creative dynamo who got up early and meditated each morning and ate healthy breakfasts of homemade yogurt and then worked on my "art" for 8 or so hours. No, I just slouched around in my jammies without having brushed my teeth until noonish and then surfed myself into oblivion or watched movies.

Sigh, those were the days.

On the advice of friends who telecommute entirely, I make a serious effort to dress up and do my typically minimal makeup and go outside at lunch on the two days a week I work at home. The ritual puts my mind in work-mode like nothing else. And when I declare the work day over, I will change out of my work clothes. It's silly, and a bit stupid, and possibly in the long term laundry-wasteful, but it *works* to get me productive in my 'on' hours and relaxed in the 'off' ones. At some point in the future, I'm going to have to do this full time or lose my dream job when I move, so I'm trying to get used to it now before those all too familiar demons eat me. Good luck!

Edited at 2011-03-18 05:36 pm (UTC)

if you have any kind of work ethic, working at home can become a kind of hell where there is no division of anything in your life, just work that has bled over onto everything else.

OMFGYES and x1000 if you're meantime trying to stomp down the work ethic so you can in good conscience put yourself in the shoes of a 3-year-old and do 3-year-old things without being either a.) an utter distractypants or b.) an utter shit for looking forward to naptime so you can just write the end of ONE FUCKING SCENE WITHOUT STOPPING TO PLAY TRAINS.

(Not that I don't dig playing trains with the 3-year-old, but by god this novel just won't die and it's because I have no time to actually immerse in it argh.)

(Maybe I need to buy some lipstick.)

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