'This is my space; the powerhouse where I run my future empire from.' Spend productive half- hour rationalising desk area... Throw out Jiffy bags (all used) on the grounds that an emperor buys new ones.
Last week I received a free Fact Sheet from Home Run, "the magazine for all who want to work effectively from home". The train strike, it predicted, would require many employees to reorganise their working patterns, something that can initially be quite difficult because of the many distractions at home. Luckily, if I followed the magazine's Top Tips, I could reduce stress and increase productivity by up to 40 per cent. The next day happened to be a strike day. Lucky me!

8.20am Get off to a brilliant start enjoying that "extra hour in bed when you'd normally be commuting". Time too for a nutritious cooked breakfast (essential to boost energy levels if I am going to be increasing my productivity by 40 per cent): toast (one piece), fried egg (one), followed by fried left-over potatoes. Breakfast took a bit longer than I hoped, because I decided to have another egg to moisten the potatoes, ate the potatoes while I was waiting for the egg to cook and then had another piece of toast to go with the egg.

9am Am ready to be "strict with yourself and work from 9 to 6 with an hour for lunch as normal". Since I don't normally get into the office until 10am I eagerly anticipated Tip Four ("Start with the most unpleasant job or call. Everything else feels better after that") by washing up and wiping the hob, while listening to an improving Radio Four phone-in on Bosnia.Think about phoning the Duty Office to ask why no women contributed but then remembered I must be Strict With Myself.

10.30am At my desk after a very short session in front of the mirror wondering (a) why my eyes are so puffy (b) whether I am developing a double chin and (c) giving the Swiss cheese plant some Phostrogen.Then notice Tip Five: "Learn to be firm about ignoring household chores like doing the dishes and watering the plants. Keep telling yourself 'I'm at work now.'" Immediately resolve not to clean the bathroom floor.

11.15am I'm at work now. I'm at work now. Phone rings. I answer in my most efficient office bark; however it's an ex-colleague of my husband's. We begin a friendly chat about noise pollution which I cut short when I notice Tip Six: "Keep phone calls short... Make good use of this precious uninterrupted time for long-term thinking and background reading."

Spend ten minutes worrying about whether I have offended ex-colleague. Luckily eyes have depuffed. Who needs air-conditioning?

11.50am Productivity down at least 20 per cent. Perhaps because I have overlooked Tip Two: "It helps some people to psychologically 'go to work' even if they just walk around the block." This is impossible because my road is a dead-end and I am not yet dressed, thinking this would save time. Now I see from page two of the Fact Sheet that this is a terrible error. It is essential to Take Yourself Seriously. "Dress more formally than you would, say, at the weekend. If you dress too casually, you risk feeling casual in other ways."

12.30pm All sweaty (no air-conditioning) so run bath. Resist temptation to clean floor (I'm at work now, I'm at work now). Also manage to clear disgusting hairball trapped behind overflow plug. Ignore knock on door because I am Keeping Everyone At Bay. "Make sure your family and neighbours know you are 'working' [why the ominous quote marks?] and not there to be dropped in on for coffee just when it suits them."

1pm Time for all important lunch hour - in the wise words of the Fact Sheet: "Know when to stop! One of the hardest aspects of working from home is not the inability to get started but getting away from it and switching off." Lunch hour delayed because of long chat with editor at Vogue. "It's all too easy to lose contact with people if you're not seen to be around," explains the Fact Sheet. "Do keep in touch. Let clients and colleagues know what you're up to." Inspired by Vogue editor, make improving salad for lunch. The tiny bunch of wild rocket I bought yesterday turns out to be a huge mistake Perhaps it is less tough when cooked?

2.15pm Remember the Fact Sheet says: "This is my space; the powerhouse where I run my future empire from." Spend productive half-hour rationalising desk: paper in top drawer; pens, stapler, Tipp-Ex in middle drawer; envelopes and Jiffy bags in bottom drawer. Throw out Jiffy bags (all used) on the grounds that an emperor buys new ones. Move small envelopes to top drawer. Fail in search for staples.Test marker pens.

3.10pm Should I go out and look at modems? The Fact Sheet says that access to e-mail is "essential". I should also consider a dedicated work-line. How many work-related calls did I miss while chatting to husband's ex- colleague? Decide instead to have a snooze. As the fact sheet says: "Keep regular hours, though they needn't be 9-5. That's the privilege of the home worker." Will work until 7 tonight.

5pm Awake sticky and unrefreshed. Impossible to work without air-conditioning. Also difficult without coffee machine, mineral-water dispenser, secretary, boss. One phone message on machine: female colleague of husband is inviting him, not us, to a party on Saturday night. Think about phoning him at work to have argument, then remember: I'm at work now, I'm at work now; realise that not having a dedicated office is affecting my concentration. "If your defended space is in a room others use, try putting some screens around it. At the least put a symbolic waste-paper basket beside the table to say to everybody 'I am now at work. Do not disturb.'" Empty all waste- paper bins into kitchen bin. Think about trip to Ikea to buy screens.

5.15pm Assess Day (strangely omitted from Fact Sheet). A mixed start to the train strike. Productivity slightly below normal. Stress-levels down. At least I resisted the temptation to wash the bathroom floor.

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