Kitten washingOne of the disadvantages of working from home is that it IS home. All the things that need doing around the house are right there in front of you. Someone has to do them, and if you’re at home, well, why not you?

I was thinking about this – no, bemoaning this to myself – the other day as I stopped working on the chapter of my book that I was editingĀ  to hang out a load of washing. “I bet my husband never stops what he’s doing at work to hang out washing,” I grumbled to myself, ignoring the fact that it had been my choice to load the washing machine that morning. The washing could have waited until the weekend, when he was there to help.*

But as I was pegging socks on the line, I suddenly saw the solution to a difficulty I’d been having with the paragraph I was editing. Without the words in front of me on the screen, looking fixed and immutable, it was much easier to see how they could be re-arranged to say what I was really trying to say. And then I began to think about how often I have my best ideas while I’m away from the computer, washing dishes, sweeping floors or walking around the park. (I’m not obsessed with housework.) Doing something mundane that requires no thought seems to give my brain permission to go off on tangents and find some fresh ideas.

This isn’t a new discovery, of course. Archimedes is famous for having solved the problem he was working on while sitting in his bathtub. More recent scientific studies have come to the conclusion that allowing the mind to wander can foster creativity. Hanging out the washing has the added benefit of getting me out my chair and into the sunlight. Perhaps I need to re-label the housework as “creativity breaks”.

*Actually, this Saturday, October 6, 2018, he won’t be around to help with the washing because he’s going on a 50 km walk (yes, 50 kilometres) in support of Oxfam. You still have time to sponsor him if you’d like to.

The hidden benefits of housework