One of the hardest thing about working from home is the juggling.
Not so much the juggling of kids and clients, with the teens pretty much taking care of themselves these days. No, it’s the juggling of energy levels and timing. Strictly speaking I worked all weekend and haven’t had a break since the weekend before, so why do I feel so guilty about slacking off today?
I didn’t intentionally slack off. It just sort of happened. I had things I needed to do – fun stuff like tax and accounting (sticking needles in my eyeballs would be more fun!) and a bit of housework and then I had to run some errands, and before I knew it the day was done and I was wrangling noodles into a home made Mee Goreng and having dinner with the family.
And there was the ahem nap I unintentionally indulged in.
I didn’t mean to. I went into my room to get some space and before I knew it I was answering the siren call of the pillowslips. For about an hour.
I could have spent that hour writing this blog post (or frankly something wittier and more interesting than this blog post), or ringing clients, or preparing a proposal, or doing some advertising or…
So. Many. Options.
Instead like the slackarse I am I went to beddy-byes.
I feel asleep in my I Can (be calm) hypnosis the other morning, and then today I broke the working-from-home code. Is this just the beginning of a slippery slope?
What will I be doing next? Planning exercise classes or coffees in the middle of my workday? Heading down to the beach for a walk because it’s a nice day? Where will it end?
When I first started working from home about 20 years ago, I couldn’t sleep the night before. I’d set up an executive desk with fax machine (the size of a small mammal), telephone system and of course workstation in my spare bedroom in our Remuera townhouse. I’d carefully purchased a filing cabinet and a proper office chair – one that swivels. I think I even ‘dressed for work’ that first day. Makeup, jacket, skirt… the only concession to being ‘at home’ was that the court shoes stayed at the front door and barefeet ruled. Though to be honest, I used to slip my shoes off under my desk in my corporate corner of the world, back in the day.
I started this way because I wanted to be sure that I remained disciplined and focused. I wanted to be certain that I would remain on task and that my ambition wouldn’t fade in the cosy glow of the homestead environs. Did I really think I was going to waste time watching daytime TV and eating boxes of chocolates?
It took me a long time to stop wearing the jacket. Not so long to stop the rigid timetable and I never really did stop wearing a least a little makeup.
I realised 20 years ago in the early stages of my consultancy and in the early stages of pregnancy with my son as I battled fatigue to finish the huge project I had on that the way I worked was going to have to change. I didn’t need the discipline of a timesheet and calculated six minute units. I didn’t really need to bolster my confidence by looking the part. All I needed was passion for my work.
And passion – for anything – is not sustainable for long stretches without a break. Fires dull and need more fuel and stoking to reignite. I don’t need artificial reminders to remain disciplined. I have the ultimate motivation of rent, utilities and a family to provide for. But to get the best work out of me, I need some respite. Some time to reflect and rest. I’m one of those people that really needs alone time, a semi-colon in my day.
The only difference between what happened today at home and what would have happened if I’d been playing by ‘corporate rules’ is that I would have been staring glassy-eyed at my computer for hours watching the clock, rather than taking the nap I desperately needed. Oh, and I wouldn’t be writing this at 9pm either.
That’s part of the flexibility that comes from working from home, and that works for me.
Have you ever tried to apply corporate office rules to your working home environment? Does that work for you?