I have been working from home for many years. Back 20 years ago, when I had my business and the kids were still at home, I had a large office built in the basement. Then as a writer for the ABQ and finally as an artist, I always had my studio in my home but back then, it was still an open area where everyone would wander and comment. Not very much painting got done in those days. It is not until my older daughter moved out that I claimed one bedroom as a closed studio space for myself.
When everyone was gone, husband at work, kids busy somewhere and eventually moved out, it was easy for me to carve some time for myself and my art and I must admit I was very lucky. I would unplug the phone, put the music on and drift into my own world of colours and shapes. Sometimes, I would feel my father standing beside me, also an artist who died many years ago.
Today, everything is different. We recently moved to a smaller house and my husband decided to retire, all at the same time or just about. After much consideration about getting an outside studio, I decided to keep it at home even if the space is limited. This choice came out of convenience mostly and also because I feel like I work better alone and without distractions. I also like the fact that I can work at anytime, even the middle of the night if I want to, without having to drive anywhere.
It took me over a year to be able to block out sounds from other rooms in the house and I still have some problems with this. It is getting better every day. I still don’t write enough, not as much as I used to and this I blame on the loss of routine. I used to exercise, then write sitting on my couch for one hour before tackling anything else. It was easy when I had the house to myself… Sometimes, I would spend the day writing and researching.
We have to be flexible in life and it is not always easy at first when you are faced with major change. Here are a few tips to eliminate distractions and interruptions and get back our creativity that I found work for me.
First, I now dedicate a minimum of two full days to painting and a third to find inspiration and work on drawings and concepts. Since I have done this and told everyone about it, I find it has reduced my anxiety of not finding enough time to paint. It is a compromise and I wish I could dedicate more time for my art like I used to, but it works for me and some weeks, I get 5-6 days in. But no matter what, my ‘’sacred days’’ remain.
For these two days, I totally refuse to get caught-up in any distraction or any interruption from anyone. I live according to my own schedule, I block out the sounds outside my studio, I don’t answer the phone. My only response to anyone attempting to interrupt me is ‘’I am not here, I am working’’. It happens less and less often now. This has lowered my anxiety level. Before I reserved these days for my art, I was constantly wondering when I would have time to paint, how I would escape without hurting feelings and feeling guilty.
I no longer feel bad or obligated to answer my phone while I am involved in my art. If it is important, they’ll leave a message. The biggest hurdle was to get over the guilt, to claim my own time and space but I am 95% over it now.
Structuring our time is one of the most important step in regaining control and creativity when we work from home.