Somehow, I have become a workaholic. I’ve no idea how it happened or what motivated me. The pandemic hit and I started working 18 hour days and I haven’t stopped. There are no van conversions to show, no great adventures to discuss, no holiday snaps to showcase. I’ve done a few adult things like buying a flat and adopting a cat, but I haven’t been fudgelling, I’ve been working!
Fudgelling: Pretending to work when you are not actually doing anything at all.
Working a lot does have its benefits I suppose. I earned enough money to buy a flat and to renovate it myself. Hooray! A tiny home was bought. Well, a 30m2 studio apartment. I had bought it with the intention of continuing to live minimally as I had some in the van, however, it’s amazing how empty white walls inspire me to buy a ridiculous amount of art, and fluffy cushions, and cosy blankets and houseplants! I had designed the flat interior with the principles of van life in mind- a multi-purpose bed unit and compact kitchen design made my flat one-of-a-kind.
Adulting, and achieving, was nothing to be celebrated though. I didn’t have a housewarming party (excuse: pandemic) and had no friends or family help me to move boxes of books and build IKEA furniture with (excuse: pandemic?). Suddenly, moving into a fixed abode, even one I had created myself, was incredibly isolating. So, after four months the only thing missing was a companion and Dragon the kitten arrived!
Even at the height of my workaholic-ness, I knew that my lifestyle was unsustainable. I was working from 6am until midnight every day of the week, and would go days without showering or eating. Dragon the kitten was itching for me to pay more attention to her so I started making healthier choices to enable us both to be happy and flourish.
Firstly, I wanted to separate my home life from my work life. Colleagues (luckily ex-colleagues now) would call me on a video conference to shout at me in my home and their bad energy would leak through my laptop into my kitchen where I was trying to get into cooking with the help of Gousto and my bedroom where I was trying to regulate my routine to sleep better. I began looking for an office space that would encourage me to get out to ‘commute’ daily but needed a space that would also allow Dragon. There was no way I wanted to spend the day without watching her kitten antics or enjoying her cuddles.
After a week of searching, I found Venaspace offices who luckily had a spare private office on the third floor. They allowed for 24/7 access which satisfied the workaholic in me who knew that I may continue to be working late or at weekends as I transitioned back to my fudgelling ways. Most importantly though, they allowed cats!
In August, with the help of two teenagers I had moved into my new private office. A huge cat tower, small water fountain, cosy sofa, and large desk made my space perfect! There was super fast wifi, a kitchen next door, and a long corridor that Dragon would wonder each morning before everyone else would arrive.
Dog owners will tell you that having a pet allows you to strike
up a conversation with anyone. Dog walkers speak to other dog walkers, but what
about cats? Obviously, most indoor cats stay within their home and only a few
ever get the luxury of traveling in a special backpack and having a second
home (office) with more toys!
Overnight, I became that eccentric lady that walked her cat on a leash or carried the cat in a side satchel through town as we walked to the office. My commute, through one of the most beautiful parks in Exeter, gave me a twice-daily dose of fresh air and sunlight that I had been missing out on for almost two years! We watched foxes, hedgehogs, squirrels, and drunks each morning, and stopped for hot chocolates or crepes every evening. Today, the park is used as the Winter Wonderland and so to avoid the screaming teenagers and crying toddlers waiting for Santa, we walk through the high street and admire the Christmas lights. Dragon gets attention from everyone- young and old- and has helped strike up conversations and build friendships.
Amber, the Community Manager at Venaspace gets to spend the most time with Dragon each week. Whenever I pop downstairs to pick up my post, Dragon follows to type some emails on Ambers laptop and get cuddles as she tries to sort through letters and parcels. Without the office space, Dragon would never have had the enriching engagement she gets at Venaspace, and I would never have managed to network with some incredible organisations that share the space (in fact, I would still be in my pyjamas and working 18 hours per day!)
It's taken me two years but I have finally worked out how to manage my mental health better with the help of some furry animals. Last week, I walked out of the jobs that exhausted me and am now enjoying a period of relative rest. I am still working as I finish off work, and continue to write for others for projects close to my heart, but thankfully I will be working fewer hours and will hopefully have time to visit museums, explore new villages or wander new beaches. Maybe, there'll even be a campervan holiday?
If you’re an accidental workaholic and looking for ways to slow down or be more efficient, here are some things that helped:
1. Get an office space. Separate your home and work as much as you can. If you’d like to join Venaspace (they have pet-friendly offices across the south and southwest) just let me know, or contact Amber.
2. Get some fresh air! I managed this by getting the office space and needing to walk ten minutes through a park to get there each day. It’s amazing what you’ll see each day.
Eat well! I’m not a foodie but there are a few
things I tried to help ensure I was eating healthily.
- Gousto. Get 60% off here
- Packed Kitchen. This service is incredible. Ready-made, healthy meals are delivered weekly and all you need to do is heat it up! I worked out that it is cheaper than trying to cook and for me it cost less than getting a Meal Deal with additional snacks to make it through the day! (Psst, you get a discount if you have have a membership at any Venspace office)
4. Adopt a furry friend. If you can, adopt a special floof that will make your days so much happier. How can anyone be sad when greeted with a wagging tail, or sharing a seat with a purring cat? Remember, a pet is for life. If you can’t adopt a pet just yet, try BorrowMyDoggy or TrustedHousesitters (get 30% off with this link)
5. Quit! We’re all told that quitting is bad but I call bullshit! Quitting is fabulous! It reinforces your values and proves that you prioritise yourself. Nothing should cost you your peace.
If you liked these pics of Dragon the kitten, check out her instagram page: @dragon_ragdoll