Today I had to dig out my laptop from under a mound of magazines, books and filing. Then I had to rescue my chair from the spare room and climb under my desk to find my diary. As I sit here typing right now, my office is in turmoil – dusty bare shelves, piles of books on the floor, organisation abandoned halfway through.

Why am I in this mess? Well, I decided to redo my office, of course. I’ve got an index to finish by tomorrow, an essay to write for the MA, a book to finish editing by the 16th Jan – clearly it’s just the ideal time to strip out my office, take a trip to Ikea, and redecorate!

I’m a sucker for distraction exercises like this. It’s only when I’m totally snowed under with work that I’ll get the urge to empty the kitchen cupboards and reorganise every tin and plate. Is it crazy to make yourself even busier than you already are?

In a word, No. I think there’s a subconscious reason for this behaviour, and it’s actually quite helpful. By giving myself a pressing and constructive task to complete (redoing my office), I’m giving myself a ready-made excuse to take regular breaks from work. A change is as good as a rest, they say, and the physical demands of decorating, putting together a new filing cabinet, or reorganising books, is a nice rest from writing and indexing. Far from being a self-sabotager, my subconscious is really trying to help me out!

Of course, it’s more problematic to work in the middle of a load of mess, but again there’s a hidden benefit to this – it stops you getting stale. You can’t just sit down at the same old desk with the same old surroundings and churn out the same old stuff. Plus I get to see more of my family while my office is in chaos, decamping to the dining room table with my laptop and files. And at the end of it all? A lovely new work space to inspire me. Win, win, win.

While I’m on the topic of my office, I went to Ikea with the image in my mind of going totally white – a completely restful white-out space to escape to. I came home with a bright orange linen cupboard, a bright green desk, and multi-coloured cushions for my day bed! When it’s finished I’ll film it for my next vlog post – make sure you sign up for that 🙂

So, the next time someone accuses you of procrastinating by taking on an apparently distracting task, tell them your subconscious is actually helping you out. And then tell them to butt out. As if you haven’t got enough to do!