Friday, August 10, 2007

The Truth About Working From Home

Telecommuting is great, but also dangerous. I've been splitting my work week between the office and home for as long as I've been a dad, and after two and a half years of balancing my work load between two offices (and at two different non-profits), I think I have a pretty good grasp on how to work and when to work, so that everything I need to do actually gets done. The problem is that even though I understand when I am most productive and what kind of schedule I need to follow to make sure I'm checking things off my to do list, its not always easy to follow that schedule.

Avoiding the distractions I thought were going to be a problem is pretty easy. When I started this, I was concerned that my biggest problem would be the urge to drop everything and just watch movies all day long. There is nothing quite like the siren call of a shiny new DVD or a seductive, old favorite, calling out to you when you've got a stack of thank you letters to write and zero interest in doing them. Why develope that pitch for your new special event when you can watch Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman spin an imaginary war? Why make follow-up calls when you can see that sneaky HAL-9000 murder astronauts?

But, surprisingly, I've been able to resist. Video games? No problem. Those are alluring, yes, but either being a dad has matured me some or I've just outgrown the need to shoot aliens in the face, but I don't spend much time with those any more.

The biggest problem is my son. Some days he's very understanding of my need to work. He plays quietly by himself, or loudly by himself, but he generally leaves me alone. Other days, he'll walk over, pull one of my hands away from my computer keyboard, and say, "Come on, Daddy, let's go play!"

How can you resist that? How can I possibly say, "No, son, daddy doesn't love you. I'd rather spend all morning on this report than spend fifteen minutes on the floor with you, playing pirates?"*

Or, what about when nap time rolls around? That Chunk is a clever kid, always playing the angles. He hates to take his naps, so mustering all of his avoidance tactics, he'll say, "Sleep in big bed? Come on, daddy!" and drag me off to my own bed, where he expects me to nap with him.

Again, there are exactly zero ways to stay firm and on task, when your child is offering to tuck you in for an afternoon nap. And, unfortunately, Chunk is smart enough to know this. He's damn, persuasive, that kid. He'd make a good politician.

* Not an actual quote, of course, but it sure feels like it sometimes.

13 comments:

Dad Stuff said...

Chunk knows what's most important. Naps make the world go round.
Keep putting work second.

Maria said...

Liv used to excel at that nap thing. She would beg to sleep in our guest room and then spend the entire time calling me in to tell me just one more thing. I would end up laying down next to her and falling asleep and would wake up an hour later to find her sitting next to me watching cartoons.

She and Chunk would make a great political team....

p-man said...

I save my napping for the office. On those occasions when work travels home with me in an overstuffed briefcase it sits undisturbed until it is time to make the return trip. Who am I kidding? I should leave that shit in the car.

CroutonBoy said...

That's why I go into the office every day, even though I can stay home if I want. I'd be with Cheeky ALL THE TIME because she's frankly for interesting and fun than anything I do for work.

Your resistance to video games, though, is admirable...sadly not something I can claim. I need to play them for...I don't know, maybe four months straight to get them out of my system. Then I won't be distracted any more...

Lainey-Paney said...

Gage is pretty manipulative with me at bedtime...
Gage's thing is, "no--more bites."
So, he indicates that he is hungry. Now HOW can I say, "No, you can't have anymore food because you are probably just lying to me about being hungry. Maybe you're not lying, but I'm going to take my chances, and put you in your crib anyway....even though you're skinny for your height. Tomorrow, I'll just give you a Pediasure to make up for today."*


*Not an actual quote, of course!

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

Since we have had gaps between school and day care the past few weeks, we have been juggling a lot and working from home. Declan is almost 5 and is actually less understanding of the work than he used to be. We are starting to get the "you work allll the time" stuff. It is so hard.

It's easier when he is back and school and us being home time is (mostly) reserved for family time.

nonlineargirl said...

I work at home a couple of days a week, and I am impressed you get anything done with your son around. Just listening to my girl in the other room can pull me off task. If I was in charge of her during work hours I would never get anything done.

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