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?