Working from Phone — the New Working from Home

Although not without its painful pitfalls, ditching the desk for a smartphone is the way forward. I wrote this blog on mine & here’s why…

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

A bump on my forehead that’s a real museum piece and repetitive strain injury in my wrist and hands so acute you’d easily mistake me for a pubescent teen. These are the first signs of physical trauma to show from my latest WFH evolution, WFP (working from phone).

As if crumbling mental health and staggering weight gain aren’t already enough to contend with, I’m now craggy and achy. But it’s my bad. I’m the fool who precariously suspends a 200-gram object (the weight of an adult Syrian hamster, only less fluffy) above my head in bed. I’m the halfwit who types and swipes on that object for hours on end with little respite.

If WFP looks set to hospitalize me, what inspires me to persist? Why not beat a hasty retreat to my lovely home office, where a giant upright screen and healthy wrist rest await?

Because that space, while fit for purpose, feels far too much like work. Sitting in a swivel chair at a desk in front of a PC can be terribly intimidating — especially for a writer who wrestles with the nasty little bugger that is impostor syndrome. I’ve tried time after time, but the result is usually the same: I stare at the vast, tyrannical white of a blank digital page, and the words I need to fill it simply don’t come. All the content is right there in my head, yet the white-collar environment gets in the bloody way.

Hemingway once said that writing can be “like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” True — this is definitely my experience with a professional WFH set-up. The great American novelist also said writing “sometimes comes easily and perfectly.” Also true — for me, when it’s done on a phone.

Even if I’m destined for the emergency room, WFP changes everything. By staying horizontal on memory foam under 13.5-tog duck feather and down — or even submerged in warm water and bubbles (don’t worry, my phone is waterproof) — the words flow much easier. With all the terror of the home office gone, writing an article is more akin to constructing a really verbose text message than anything closer to toiling.

The accessibility and functionality of a smartphone also mean I can effortlessly dip in and out of work on the move, stealing 15 minutes while I wait for my doctor’s appointment, 5 minutes as I queue for the post office, and 10 in the back of an Uber (although I’m usually that infuriatingly chatty passenger). In a nutshell, using a phone to work is handier than a face mask during a pandemic — ok, perhaps not, but certainly better than whipping out a clunky laptop all over the show.

I’ve finished entire articles by WFP (including this one), as well as whole book chapters. I mostly bash out short-form pieces this way, and I’ve never penned an entire book on my phone, but a quick internet search tells me others have — and for many of the same reasons I outline here. For long-form writing, apps like Scrivener and Draft can facilitate the process.

It took me months to fully appreciate the benefits of writing on a phone. WFP using Google Docs (my fave) is actually the third chapter in my WFH tale, and I’m positive new twists and turns lie ahead. When the whole desk sitch first started to spook me like a we-need-to-talk email from an angry editor, WFL (working from laptop) seemed like the best solution — only I realized this was still a smidge ‘too real’ for my liking.

I then graduated to WFP (working from paper). Aw blast! I already used the same acronym — I could really do with a synonym for paper here. WFN (working from notepad)? Imperfect, but it’ll do.

Pen and paper is already my preferred method of communication with friends, as you’ll know if you caught my cutesy penpal blog a couple of months back, so this made perfect sense. WFN was a super chill way to work, but I naturally missed the addictive interwebs and the instant access to info it offers, much the same as mirrors miss my pre-lockdown body.

So, for a spell at least, WFP and its painful cons it shall be.

Of course, some of you won’t be in control of your own WFH narrative, with many employers keeping tabs of their workforce remotely. However, if — like me and other freelancers — you have the liberty to change the way you get work done, then WFP could be the right choice.

If you fancy giving the method a whirl, I’d advise minimizing all digital distractions. Deactivate notifications for social media apps and any others unimportant to work. I hold out this invaluable nugget of wisdom even though it has zero impact on my daily TikTok and Instagram activity — gosh, I’m weak.

Oh, and don’t accidentally take any business video calls in the bath — that’s a sure-fire way to knock the phone out of your hand and down onto your previously bump-free brow!

London-based freelance journo (mainly film & TV), content writer & editor, ghostwriter, and blogger. Also currently studying to be a UX writer.

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