My partner insisted on sharing her day, despite a lack of response. “…one interruption after another. The doorbell goes, the dog barks. I sign for a package. Meals on Wheels comes for your mom. The dog barks. I have to get the door. The dog barks during my entire meeting with Europe. Then I get to Cam’s school but he’s nowhere to be found. I had to wait twenty minutes for him and Ethan. And clearly Ethan’s father has no interest in picking up his child. I got nothing done!”
I open one eye. It’s 6:30 pm and she is still in her PJs. She says, “I have no idea what we’re having for dinner so don’t even ask.”
But I couldn’t ask if I wanted to. I’m comatose, a string of saliva trickling out the corner of my mouth and staining the cushion. No amount of coffee consumption was enough to get me through a painfully long day of meetings and labour that lasted until five o’clock. My limit is usually six very productive six hours.
Next week the partner has advice. “Bring a really good book for the subway and get on at the west end of the platform so you have a better chance of a seat. If you feel like you’re getting tired during the day, go for a walk and it will energize you.”
I do as she suggests and it’s better. When I get home now, I’m coherent and semi-functioning. Yet when we walk the dog one evening she says, “I hate Wednesdays. I’ll do it, but working at home will never be my thing.”
What is this crazy talk?? Who wouldn’t want my perfect life? She must be doing it all wrong! So, in the spirit of reciprocation and the hope she will get onboard, I have advice too. Here are my top five tips for working happily from home
1. Act like it’s a weekday.
Woo-hoo! You’re home! That means you get to work in your moose slippers and yoga pants, right? Nope. Because when you behave like it’s a weekend your mind says work but your body says relax. You’re not mentally equipped to deal with the stresses of the day. And the lack of order and productivity will make you cranky.
So have a shower. Get dressed. Act like it’s a weekday and you’ll do weekday things.
2. Be the boss.
Oh the distractions. Facebook may be calling your name, but that doesn’t mean you have to answer. Take control of your day so it doesn’t control you. Set yourself work goals and reward yourself with breaks and Candy Crush time. You may be the boss, but you’re not a monster.
3. Punch a clock.
You need structure or you’ll slack off and wind up working on weekends. Decide when to start and stop. Stick to your schedule. You will work faster and smarter if you know the limitations of your day. When you leave your office, consider it off limits until you start again the next day. Even if your work isn’t done – LEAVE (yes, I’m talking to you).
4. Eat like a human.
Soup and crackers at your desk? I don’t think so. Set aside time for lunch and breaks so you can enjoy your food mindfully and recharge your batteries. Blur the boundaries between work and food and both lose their inherent pleasures. If you really must eat at your desk – and heck, it happens – clean up the mess so you’re working in a clean space you can enjoy.
5. Protect the sanctity of your day.
You’re not the only one who struggles with boundaries. Friends, neighbours, relatives think your day is unfairly carefree. They will ask you to run them to the hospital for heart surgery or help them extinguish a grease fire. These pesky requests suck up your time and ruin the essential structure of your day. Learn to say “No.” Don’t worry, you’ll still be a good person.
Two months have passed since I wrote this. The partner never did catch on to Backward Wednesdays. Instead, my sister has agreed to pick up the kids. Shockingly, I enjoy my day at my client’s office — the laughs, the companionship, the sense of belonging. Could it be that freelancing isn’t the ultimate work experience? I’m thinking on it.