Post by Jenny
I recently had the rare opportunity to observe my husband in work mode when a department remodel meant a week of telecommuting for him. In general, he doesn’t like to work from home, but the prospect of dodging electricians and carpet-layers convinced him.
On the first day, I was curious how things would play out, so I spied on him. He had the occasional snack, he took a short break for lunch, but otherwise, he sat at his desk and worked. (Exciting, right? Well, it’s IT, not the bomb squad.) When his day ended, he turned off his computer. The next morning, he got up and did it all again.
I used to be like that when I worked at a real job. I had an In basket and an Out basket, and I moved things from In to Out as efficiently as possible. I knew what I had to do and how long I had to do it. My lunch break was half an hour, and any conversations with co-workers about non-work topics lasted only a few minutes.
Jeez, what happened to me?
The likeliest explanation is that I had kids. Anyone who has been home with a child or two knows that scheduled blocks of time longer than five minutes can be hard to come by, especially in the years between two-naps-a-day and elementary school. Even though my boys are well into their school careers—but thankfully still too young for driving and mustaches—this mindset persists. My years of mom-training mean that after spending between thirty seconds and fifteen minutes at my computer, I quite often have a sudden and uncontrollable urge to jump up and do something else. And so I do. The “something else” varies—it might be laundry, spontaneous toilet repair, or eating enough chocolate chips to kill a mongoose—but it is definitely not writing.
Thanks to my husband’s week of working from home, I’ve been inspired to try a new plan: when I sit down to write, I’m going to pretend that I’m telecommuting and that someone, somewhere, is monitoring my productivity. I can’t think of a better person for the job than George Jetson’s boss, the irascible Mr. Spacely. Sure, he’s a cartoon, but he has a big voice for a little guy, and I don’t want him yelling at me every time I get up out of my chair. If he works out, my next step is getting Rosie the Robot to clean my house.
How do you keep yourself on task when working at home?