15 January 2018

Working from home when home is work.


I'm not one for mulling over regrets, but often I wish that I could work happily with background noise. I envy friends who can listen to music while replying to emails (without typing the lyrics into said email, as I would do). Cafes are such energizing places, but I can barely concentrate. I grew up in a very quiet house, and work best in absolute silence. Right now as I type this, I am very aware of the clock ticking in the next room, for example, but at least it's consistent.

Today is rare for me: an entire day to work, hopefully quietly, at home. Zero kid schlepping, no cleaning, minimal laundry, only very slight cooking. I started working at 7:00 am and plan to work straight through until 5:00, with a brief lunch break and some moving around. As I do this, I'm recalling and practicing some strategies that have helped in the past, and I would like to share them with you.

1. Pick out an outfit that feels as much like pajamas as possible (without also feeling depressing; I walk the line between comfy and sad in terms of house clothes). 

2. In anticipation of this work day, purchase numerous moderately healthy snacks from someplace like Aldi or Trader Joe's. Have them on hand and deploy as needed. If the day seems to call for more coffee than usual, don't fight it.

3. Don't be afraid to move the furniture around a bit. I do best with natural light, so today I moved my desk chair into the dining room to face a large window. I have pillows to best replicate my ergonomic office workspace, and a blanket for my lap, which is a pleasant luxury. I've moved my dog's bed into the dining room so that she completely ignores it and sleeps on the couch instead. This morning she learned that she could push me around the house (hardwood floors) in the rolling desk chair. Thankfully she's now all tired out from that.

4. Give yourself some non-snack treats, like time on an app or making a blog post (this is my first treat of the day). Don't forget to walk around periodically. One thing that helps me is to remind myself: no cleaning today! Yes, must accomplish (arduous tasks 1-5) but no cleaning.

5. Be clock-aware, but not extraordinarily so. If you are able to give yourself a number of hours of work at home time, rather than saying "Oh snap, only three more hours," reflect back on all that you've done so far. 

6. Even if it seems stupid to write a particular task on a list or in a planner, do it anyway. Then cross it off. 

Tomorrow the new semester begins. I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have a day of focused and somewhat restful work time and preparation, even if there's some dog snoring to go along with the ticking clock nearby. 

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