On working from home, and time management
April 8, 2015 § 1 Comment
I was recently part of a conversation, which included two male friends, on working from home. We all agreed that working times should be adjusted to when we were most productive, and the general consensus was that mornings were the best, and the guys were very categorical about getting the best of their work done by 9 or 10am. I wanted to agree, but I knew that wasn’t true for myself. I didn’t get as much productive morning work done in terms of sending emails and drafting and the like. I do a lot in the morning, but I somehow don’t end up meeting deadlines before noon.
Today, I clocked myself. I was up at 7am, but I spent the morning cleaning up the kitchen, making breakfast, and then lunch to pack with me, and then coffee. I then put a load of laundry in the machine and sent off exactly one document before going in for a shower, feeding my cats, packing my food, and leaving the house at 10am.
Clearly, I lost at least 2 hours in home chores (considering that my maid is on leave which is why I had to do the dishes). So obviously the solution to this is to stop home chores, which I can’t really live with. The other solution is to outsource cooking, which again, I don’t want to, because I do enjoy cooking and my dietary concerns and tendency to micromanage means that I probably will end up obsessing over the person’s cooking, which isn’t really conducive to peaceful working time. Besides, I don’t think I can afford a decent living wage for another domestic help.
My time management is evidently shit, I keep thinking, because many people I know manage much more (kids!) in the same number of hours a day. And this is exactly what isn’t helping – the guilt – as a woman, I believe that I should be doing things, like having a clean house and kitchen and well stocked fridge with fresh food and without strange covered bowls with moss on them, or curd that’s turned pink (yes, that’s what happens when curd goes bad, apparently). Every time someone comes over and makes a funny quip about the contents of my fridge, or the tomato tree that’s dying in the front yard, I smile, but also, I die a little too. When I go to buy vegetables, the guy running the shop comments about how long it’s been since my last visit. He sees me walk past every day, and probably knows that in between, while my carrots shrivel up in the veggie drawer and coriander melts into a mini swamp thing, that I’m ordering fried chicken. Oh yes, I don’t have time in the evenings, either. One work call, one friend of a friend going through a bad marriage, and it’s 9pm, and five star chicken will be here in 20 minutes, I could make an omelet but then there are only two eggs left, shouldn’t I keep them for breakfast?
When I work from home, I have home work as well. Midway through drafting sexual harassment policy, I recall that the laundry hamper is overflowing, that glassware needs to be put away, that the litter needs to be cleaned. Since I’ll be home all day, maybe I’ll call the electrician to fix everything that’s not working. All service providers – carpenters, electricians, plumbers, assume that I have nothing else to do. 9am becomes 11am becomes post lunch becomes 4pm. And I’m rescheduling calls because I don’t want to mute important discussions while I grovel in my broken tamil about please replacing the fixtures today and not tomorrow, not again. By 6pm, I’ve achieved nothing on my to do list, there are 36 tabs open on Firefox which are all relevant but I can’t focus any more.
Randomly, office has been the most liberating for me. Sure, I can’t work in my pyjamas, but it’s fine. For those 8 hours, I don’t have to worry about anything, but work. I’m not taking a break to marinate meat because I saw this great recipe that I wanted to try and be this domestic goddess, I’m not going to investigate the cats suddenly going quiet, I’m going to have those two stressful clean up and cooking hours of my day, and probably one such hour in the evening, but it’s okay, because that’s all there is. Clearly, working from home isn’t working for me – I can’t pretend that my home is an office for 8 hours.
For the rest of my problems, of not being perfect, I probably have to confront my own demons and just let go.