I’m used to working from home. Up until last September, I did it a lot. I’ve never found it particularly difficult to motivate myself, nor fallen prey to the many possible distractions. Even having three children and my other half in the house, I’m pretty good at either ignoring them, or dropping things for a few minutes without losing my flow when I needed to.

But there’s something a bit different about having to work from home. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve ‘had’ to work from home before – I never had office space for my PhD and when that finished, I had no job. But the instruction to work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak has already made me slightly stir crazy. There seems to be a psychological difference between working from home because it’s the only option, and working from home because you’ve been told you shouldn’t go out unless you have to. It doesn’t help that I have really settled in to working at Lancaster, and have got used to catching up with friends in the department.

Last weekend, to take my mind off things, I started tidying. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that this is one of the things I do ever-so-slightly compulsively when I’m stressed. I’ve never discussed it with anyone who would know, but I can only assume that I try to control the space around me because I can’t control the rest of my life. It also gets me doing something rather than just sitting around and thinking. As a result, my office is the tidiest it’s ever been. All ready to start the avalanche of marking which is due to arrive next Tuesday, and to start a new project when I have time to get on with some research. It remains to be seen how well I can concentrate… And, of course, I have to decide whether or not it’s worth starting on another project which may or may not get finished, if I can’t stay in academia…