I work from home much of the time.
I also don’t work when I’m at home.
Today’s post is going to highlight a few of the major pitfalls I encounter to working a flexible at-home schedule.
First some background. I go to an office four times a week, Monday through Thursday, from 8am to noon.
Pitfall #1: Many of my officemates and my mother assume that when I leave that office I have no other work to do or what work I have isn’t “real”.
This grates on my nerves. I’m tired of explaining. Some get it, most don’t. They may work from home on occasion, but really don’t understand that I really have more than the one job they see me at. My mum really doesn’t get it and I have given up trying to make her understand. My doormen think I’m very lucky to work at home (and also think I rake in tons of money). If I could afford a lease on real office space I probably would. I want to move so I can make a proper office (and separate studio space).
Pitfall #2: Because of my flexible schedule, I’m the one to run random errands throughout the day.
The office is an hour from our home. It’s very easy to arrive home at 3pm and not around 1 if I run any errands on my way home. The most common errand I run is grocery shopping. This really wears me out, not only because I have to carry the groceries home (shopping on weekends would not solve this problem, I’ll try to write about that issue someday), but because of the people interactions I must deal with to get through the grocery shopping. My local big store is having their frequent “can can” sale and I swear it is as if no more food will be produced and sold by stores EVER and people would have to rely on hunting and gathering again. It was kind of funny actually and I may have enjoyed it more if I didn’t have to be there and deal with it. People had two shopping carts full of food and seemed to have forgotten how to shop and move their carts. I went in for milk, rice, and pizza “stuff” and feel lucky to have gotten out with my life.
Pitfall #3: Because of those errands I often end up home exhausted and famished.
Unless I eat lunch in the city I have to wait until I get home. Because of those errands that is often 2:30 or 3pm. It is not a good time to make and eat lunch. Add in all my dietary restrictions and I’m pretty cranky. I really need to fix this. I could bring my lunch but then I have to schlep containers around. It’s a balance I have yet to find. It’s one of my goals for this year.
Pitfall #4: My Thursdays are sort of like Fridays for most people and I’m wiped.. The stress of commuting and making sure I get the in-person office stuff done in a four day week really gets to me by Thursday. I’ve had an intense few weeks there and today wasn’t productive as expected because of my exhaustion. It let myself become swayed by other problems and didn’t finish what I wanted to.
Pitfall #5: Because I’m home there was an expectation that housework would be completed. Also as I am the family cook, (E can boil water and make rice), I have additional pressures of coming up with a meal and getting it on the table in a semi-reasonable manner. I can’t remember the last time we “ate out” on a week night. I think the closest to that we come is a night of canned soup or when I (gasp) brought home a rotisserie chicken. To that end, I try to make things that require minimal prep because I just am not into complex menus.
Pitfall #6: Internet.
Pitfall #7: Television.
Pitfall #8: Email.
Pitfall #9: Knitting/spinning… creative “fun” endeavours.
Regarding the above four pitfalls… these are all distractions. I can sort of categorize Email, Internet, and some knitting as “work”, but they often blossom into long meandering walks where I didn’t expect to go.
So, how do I combat these pitfalls? Stay tuned, next week I’ll step through them one by one.. I’ll hint tonight: writing it down, breaking it down, turning it off, turning it on, knowing when to stop.
Don’t worry, I’ll talk about the advantages soon too…