When my husband began working from home, thanks to COVID, he naturally assumed he’d take up residence in our shared study, which I use during the week and he has on weekends. I was alarmed because there’s nowhere else in the house I want to sit to write. Also, I use a desktop and he uses a laptop, so he’s technically more mobile. Although we share it, I’ve always thought of the study as mine. So I set up our old dining room (no longer required after a recent reorganisation of space) and enthused to Martin about how much more room he’d have. He agreed to give it a try.

The truth is, though, I have a tendency to distraction and will frequently leave my desk if any thought occurs to me: I should put on a load of washing, hang out the washing, take the chicken pieces out of the freezer, make a doctor’s appointment. Even worse, there may be days on end that I don’t get in there at all. I became acutely aware of how often I was walking past the door of Martin’s office (as we now referred to it) instead of sitting at my computer. Every now and then he’d glance up. There was no denying that what he’d gained in square footage, he’d lost in sunlight and view. I was going to have to defend my turf.

After breakfast, like a trooper, Martin would go to his office. My first job was to walk the dog; that was non-negotiable. Then, armed with a coffee, I’d go to my study, sometimes without a crystalised plan for the day. For months, I’d been close to finishing the revisions for the second edition of my book, but there were loose ends still hanging, especially regarding the design of the new cover. But in order to keep possession of this sunny corner of the house, I’d have to put in serious hours. And since I was in there, I might as well be working. Either that, or I’d have to watch cat videos for eight hours straight.

We’ve had this arrangement now for six weeks. My dog-in-the-manger mentality regarding my study has forced me to be more productive than I’d been in a long time. Martin has grown to like his new digs and has ordered a large desk, which that room can accommodate. Each day by 5pm, though, I’ve had enough (even allowing for the fact that I might have snuck off for a nap at some point). I walk past Martin’s office calling, That’s a wrap! Yep, he calls back, and we reconvene in the kitchen.

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