Monday, January 24, 2022

Somewhere Between Duty and Distraction

Seriously.... Photo by Tara O’neill

Seriously…. Photo by Tara O’neill

Artful Life
By Tara O’Neill

Here’s one that definitely doesn’t apply to just artists, but certainly requires some artful adjustments: The Home Office. You know, the one that modern technology promised would help us shed the scales of The Work Place and allow us the freedom and flexibility to work from our own nests? May I just say, it ain’t that easy.

In fact, it can be really hard. How, for example, is one to stay focused (yes, the f-word) when the kittens need feeding – and then play-time, dang they’re cute – and there’s that laundry to do, the phone is ringing and there are loved ones you don’t want to neglect and Cary Grant is on the old movie channel and emails are gushing through the dike with a force no Dutch boy could stop? Seriously, freedom and flexibility? More like a recipe for disaster. I have such a home office.

But it’s doable, right? We know a lot of professionals who function quite nicely in The Home Office. And I am committed to finding their secrets…and by the way, a complete lack of distractions does not count as a ‘secret.’

Last month – high season, mind you – I opened a “pop-up gallery” in empty store- space in North Naples for two weeks (hence, the term “pop-up”). I filled half of a 1600- foot room with paintings, artful merchandise, and promotional displays. I also brought along my travelling paint rig and a box of canvasses because, as long as I would be there 6-8 hours a day, I might as well put the time to good use. And I painted like crazy.

Ridiculously, I got more work done in two weeks than I had in the past four months. Me, with my treasured Home Office. And Studio. Away from the phone, the computer, the kittens and laundry, I was on fire. Alright, changes would have to be made. The problem, I figured, wasn’t all the things tugging at me while trying to work at home. it was my ability to draw the line between duty and distraction.

Turns out, while I was away at The Work Place the kittens got fed and fooled with, laundry (eventually!) got done, the answering machine answered the phone, the non-profits I support stayed perfectly afloat, and in the end most emails got answered. Life went on without me. Also I sold a lot of work, met some great contacts, and my husband still loves me. Huh.

I am now trying to face The Home Office with more positive control: during certain hours, I will make sure I attend my own business first, I will then attend the needs of the cultural organizations that are as much a part of me as I am of them. Family and friends will have to be patient until our relatively short ‘busy season’ is over, I will miss some things, but I will still make kitten-time, and my laundry is, after all, handled by machines.

Just so you know, I’m failing horribly at my resolutions. Recently, a dear friend and beloved sister visited over a weekend that included two and a half major events for me as participant/organizer/ambassador. (My mom used to caution me, “you can’t go to all the parties!”) In the end, I neglected some of the needs of my business, which left me with short time and temper to attend the needs of event participants. I briefly resented the intrusion of loved ones (who were wonderfully helpful!)…which meant, dang, I’d done it again.

So, if anyone out there’s holding a priceless tip or two for running The Successful Home Office, please share them with me and my thousands of readers. I remain, by appointment, at your service.

Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at

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