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.