The Hellacious Day or Why Working From Home Isn’t Cake
It is nighttime, but in Alaska, it is still light. I’m exhausted. Then suddenly, I remember that I forgot to post to this blog today. Where did the day go? And how did I run out of time?
If you are like me, working from home has its pros and cons. I still firmly believe that the positives greatly outweigh the negatives, however, if I look back at my day today, there were several times that working out of the home would have helped me get my work done.
By default, being in an office – especially with other people around – creates a different sense of urgency to your work, a need to adhere to the timelines of others, a strong sense of responsibility that others are depending on you and they are right there in the same office with you.
I’m not saying that because I work from home that I’m not motivated to do the work or that I ignore other’s people’s timelines or even that I don’t have a powerful sense of responsibility toward my colleagues and clients. But when I’m home, I can’t deny that the pull of life and family can sometimes be stronger than the needs of a client in another state or even another part of town.
If I worked in an office with others, I’d be torn by a pressing family need, however, I might not just drop everything at work and rush to take care of things. I’d set more boundaries. I’d have a steady schedule. Oh so I imagine.
To illustrate what I mean, here’s a sketch of my day today.
4:30am – Woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was literally composing client proposals and blog posts in my head. “Go work on it if it will help,” said my husband. I did.
6:30am – Showered, made breakfast.
7:00am – Did some client work, answered emails, edited transcripts for my new podcast. Also Twittered off and on (would I be Twittering if I were at the office?).
8:30am – Baby wakes up. Feed baby. Wash baby. Dress baby. (Clearly if I were at the office now, someone else would be taking care of baby at this time or I’d have woken her up and she’d be at daycare by now.
9:30am – Made baby’s lunch, tried to get out the door for a good 20 minutes.
10:10am – Dropped baby off at daycare late. Rushed home.
10:30am – Did last minute promotions for a live event in Second Life with author Taran Rampersad.
11:00am – Moderated the live author chat in Second Life.
12:00pm – Finished editing podcast transcripts and printed them out. Set up baby’s bedroom as my makeshift studio because it is the only carpeted room in the house with the most things on the wall such as books and a zebra skin. (If I had an office, I’m sure I’d have a nice studio set up for podcasting, right?)
12:45pm – Check emails in between rehearsing podcast. The reporter from USA Today was trying to reach me to talk about my new podcast. I didn’t hear the phone ring at 12:30pm but there’s a message from her, too. Call her back immediately. (If I were in an office, I’d get her call, of course.)
1:15pm – Finish phone interview. Suddenly remember that I have an appointment with my acupuncturist at 2pm to address some bothersome health issues I’m having, and I haven’t started recording my podcast yet. Best laid plans. (If I were working in an office, I’d probably be scheduling my acupuncture appointments on the weekend rather than leaving work early. My health might end up taking a back seat to the work on my office desk.) Record my first podcast but cannot get to the second one.
1:55pm – Rush to appointment. Get a treatment and advice to get some blood work done through my nurse practitioner immediately.
3:00pm – Leave appointment and call my nurse practitioner. “Can you come in right now?” she asks. I quickly head across town to see her. (If I were working in an office and left mid-afternoon for an appointment, chances are I’d hurry back to the office immediately after and save a second appointment for another day).
3:45pm – Leave nurse practitioner’s office. What time is it? Time to pick baby up from daycare because husband will be at an all-day conference rest of week.
4:15pm – Pick up baby. Go to store for bread. Head home.
4:30pm – Clean up mess in kitchen from breakfast. Check emails in between, laptop on kitchen counter.
5:00pm – Start dinner. (If I worked in an office, I’d be leaving about this time.) Answer emails.
5:30pm – Husband home. Sneak a few more emails in then close computer.
6:00pm – Dinner with family. (This is a great thing about working from home – I’m always home for dinner.)
7:00pm – Fold laundry. Totally drained from the day. Chug Emergen-C vitamin drink. Try to lay down to rest.
8:00pm – Realize I forgot to post to this blog. Bring laptop to bed and start to write.
8:30pm – Must go find an image for blog post now. Want to go to sleep but every Tuesday night my husband and I watch a TV show together after the baby is in bed.
(If I worked at an office, I might bring work home with me. I might ignore my baby and my husband because the pressure to get the work done is too great.)
I’m almost done with my work today. I want to record my podcast but don’t think my brain will be able to handle it.
I can hear husband reading to baby in the living room.
I’m afraid I’m ignoring them.
The fantasy of working from home – the flexible schedule, the ability to spend more time with family – comes crashing down around me.