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Working from home: Mike Russell

Holyrood

Working from home: Mike Russell

The Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Europe and External Affairs talks us through his approach to working from home

I am very lucky in my working at home space. A few years ago, Cathleen and I decided - or she probably decided before me - that we needed to move my workspace out of the house so that I was not tempted to go to my desk every night to do something.

Image: one of George Wylie’s Terracotta Puffers

We bought an off the shelf outdoor room and have adapted it as a study. We debated long and hard about where to put it, but in the end, there was no contest as we have a magnificent view from just above the house of Loch Riddon and the hills above it. It is where we sit out in the summer, midges permitting and that is what I now also see when I am at my desk.

I have worked at home and from home on and off during my entire career, and I know the need for familiar surroundings and a routine. I have lots of things in my study that are souvenirs of past activity including a picture of Michael D Higgins on his visit to Iona in my constituency, a pen made by my old school out of a desk I probably sat at, one of George Wylie’s Terracotta Puffers, which I loved the moment I saw him excavate it from a flower bed in Dunoon during the Cowal Arts festival and one of our cats - Tigear - who always follows me up to the study whenever I leave the house and sleeps on a chair made by a friend for me when I moved in to this space in October 2017.  

Tigear the cat

Pic: Tigear the cat

I avoid distraction by having lots to do and keeping a to do list in a notebook open on the desk at all times. My top tip comes from the writer Thomas Hardy who pointed out that of the 20 young men he knew who said they wanted to be writers, he was the only one who had succeeded and that was because he sat down and wrote. In other words, just get on with what you need to do, don’t talk about it.   

I love working from this space, but I do miss the social interaction of the Parliament and joining others in the queue by the coffee bar, to exchange information or just gossip. And having the odd drink in the Parliament Bar which is sorely missed at present. 

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