Monday, May 12, 2008

Working From Home

Time management is an interesting concept. It brings to mind a vision of lassoing Father Time and putting him in a cage. Cool idea. Too bad it doesn't work. How do you manage time?

I'm in the advantageous position of not needing to work outside the home. But that leads to a mistaken impression that I have nothing to do. If I'm going to work as a full time writer, then that means a minimum of forty hours of "butt in chair, hands on keyboard" (BICHOK) time. Doing the dishes, vacuuming the living room, sorting the laundry--those are not included in the forty hours any more than they would be if I worked outside of the home.

Quite frankly, most spouses, family members, and friends don't get that part. "You're home all day... What are you doing?"

"Writing." I haven't found any way to do it except just do it. Sounds good. But raise your hand if you've been interrupted by phone calls, door bells, whiny spouse or child, well meaning parent or sibling... and the list goes on and on.

So, when I'm in work mode, I have a couple of rules. Generally, I don't answer the phone. When I do (the house hunk gets cranky otherwise), I note down how much time was spent on that call. And then I take back that time. Same for calls from my parents or my children.

I don't answer the door. Oh, I look through the peep hole. But if you're not the UPS man or the post man, a maintenance man from my apartment complex, then you're just out of luck. You're not on my schedule! A woman that used to live in the same building didn't quite get this concept. She stood in the lobby and called my apartment. When I didn't answer the phone, she banged on the door, yelling "I know you're in there!"

Heh. I know I'm in here, too. Doesn't mean that I want to talk to you just 'cause you bang on my door. A couple days later, she jumped me when I was out walking my dog. "Why didn't you answer the door?" "BECAUSE I WAS WORKING!"

I keep track of time spent working as opposed to fooling around. It's easy to lose a lot of time fooling. So I write down the time. Fooling around time doesn't count as work time. I still have my forty hours to put in. If I waste an entire morning on e-mails and blogs, that's four hours I'll have to make up in the evening when I would rather be doing something else. Like reading!

It's hard. There are always distractions. But the nitty gritty truth is that if indeed I was away at an outside job, I wouldn't be allowing those distractions to interfere with getting my work done. Why should I allow it just because I'm working at home?

How about you? How do you manage the distractions of life?

Anny Cook


  1. Oooh, great way to start the week, oh Zen queen!

  2. Ha! All that they say about stay in moms!
    Recent research has stated that if mothers were to be paid for their cooking cleaning & caring for their families they could easily earn a six figure salary.
    In Canada, the 10 most popular jobs performed by a stay at home mother would equate to a C$125,000 salary.The salary calculations were based on top ten jobs mothers said they did at home and the hours they spent them doing each day. The numbers were then compared to the market value each job was worth. The high salary calculations were due to a lot of overtime hours.
    The most common misconception is that being a stay at home mom is easier than working.

  3. Hear, hear, Mona:) I am waaaaay underpaid...

    Great suggestions, Anny! I might try a few! Think I'll get any respect from the family if I start 'taking back my time'?

  4. Oh, great post, Anny. I also work from home (the majority of the time anyways) and it never ceases to amaze me that this means that I'm at everyone else's beck and call. I also keep track of time doing other things so I can reclaim it for work. Great minds and all that... :D

  5. I'm still trying to learn to organize my time better. BLEH! I suck at it! I stay at home and start by answering emails, doing blogs, etc. but then the phone rings and laundry beckons and before I know it the day is half over. The internet is a huge time waster and I tend to do better when our lousy service acts up. SIGH...think I must adopt some of your rules.

    Great post!

  6. The only problem I find with my schedule, is I forget to take vacation time without the computer or weekends off. I never have a weekend where I'm not working. Soooo different than a 9-5.

  7. The only problem I find with my schedule, is I forget to take vacation time without the computer or weekends off. I never have a weekend where I'm not working. Soooo different than a 9-5.

  8. Well once the forty hours are in for writing, there's always the other stuff. E-mail, chatting, laundry, cooking... you know, the regular "stuff".

  9. Hey, Great blog, y'all. Thanks, Cindy, for pointing me to it. Love all the different voices and the topic of the week.

    Anny, you ask about how we manage the distractions of life: Sometimes I think life itself is the distraction, and there's something more I should be paying attention to. But that's beside the point, perhaps.

    I'm a wretched time manager. I keep saying I should join Procrastinators Anonymous--tomorrow.

    Now, going back in time to James's post on predators: I play an online sim game that attracts a lot of teenage girls. Every player has a profile page. One girl posted a question in the forum: Do I have too many personal pictures on my page. So several of us went and looked. She had posted: pictures of herself, her brothers, her entire cheerleading squad (in uniform), and her best friend. And listed: her city and state, her principal's name, her own *full name*, her best friend's full name, and offered to pass on messages to her friends. Enough of us used such strong language telling her to get this stuff off her profile, that I think we must have brought her to tears. The really scary bit: she said her parents were OK with it!!

    Anyway, I'm definitely adding this to my regular blog cycle. Thanks, all. (Nice to see you again, Cindy, Kelly, Anny; James & Daren, I don't know you, but you seem like fine gents. James: Have you read Robin McKinley's book Sunshine? From your profile, I'm guessing you would enjoy it.)

  10. Hi Elissa! Good to see you again. And I'm glad you like the blog!!

    Feel free to offer up suggestions about what topic you would like addressed by all six voices. We're taking recommendations.

  11. Wow, her parents were ok with it? That just blows me away... I haven't read that yet. I'll have to look it up. Thanks for the tip. :D


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