I have worked from home for a long time. For a lot longer than we’ve been in the throws of a pandemic. So you would think I’d have it down by now.
Here’s the thing though: in the past I only needed to work-from-home for a small number of hours each week, say 15 or 20. These days I am clocking a lot more than that.
I think the best preparation for me for working from home was graduate school. Unfortunately, when I was in graduate school, I was incredibly undisciplined with my time and therefore had absolutely no boundaries between work-time and non-work time. This meant that I was sort of always working while never really getting anything done. I’d be distracted and busy with other things during the time when I should have been at my computer, then I’d scramble to read and write when I should have been sleeping or feeding myself healthy food or cleaning my house.
It wasn’t cute.
I mean, I got the job done in the end, but it wasn’t the healthiest period of my life, mentally or physically.
Now-a-days I have another full-time job that I work primarily from 6 to 7:30 am and 4:30 to 8:30 pm, and sometimes during the middle of the night to boot. I am a mom to these adorable tornados of emotion.
These gals and their Dad make it so that I don’t really have the option to work during non-designated work times. Being a parent has forced me to get my shit together and be purposeful about working when I am supposed to work.
I have done it by creating this imperfect little cave in my basement, aka my office.
As you can see, I have a very high-tech standing desk, a coffee cup always wanting to be full, a record player, a library of journals, a space heater to keep the place cozy, a fancy diploma, some of my show posters, and best of all: a scrappy little meditation shrine.
You know, normally, I’d stage this room a little nicer before taking these pictures and posting this blog, but I am working on the whole not-needing-to-be-perfect thing. And that’s what this office is good for anyway – I close the door to the rest of the house and the rest of my life so that I can “go to work” like any other job.
And when work is particularly onerous or I can’t seem to concentrate, I use the same 45/15 method I used to write my dissertation. I set a timer for 45 minutes, during which time I cultivate single-minded focus on one task, not texting or checking email or refilling my coffee. And when that is done, I set a timer for 15 minutes where I can do any of those other tasks, or whatever else I need to do.
Sometimes I set my butt down on that meditation pillow. Other times I pull one of my old journals off of the shelf and thumb through my past. Sometimes I go upstairs and make a snack.
Looking at old journals – feeling the accumulation of age and the demands of parenthood and the distance between my remote outpost and some of the things I love – with a certain kind of eyes I can feel forlorn and longing. Recently though, on my skips down memory lane, I encounter a girl who wished for discipline and structure: commitment to a yoga practice, to cut down on alcohol, to eat healthy, to be a better member of her community. I remember her: though buoyed by youthful friendship and lustful love and exuberant parties and the freedom of her whole life ahead, she was also confounded by the malaise of the unencumbered.
That’s the upside of being encumbered as fuck. My sweet girls keep me tethered to a daily routine. There is a satisfying momentum to the day after day of it. It feels grown up and grounded and good.
These days, all weekend, I just want to stay home: the four of us luxuriating in three day weekends, as is the custom in this corner of the world, with Rafal working 4-10s and the girls with a 4-day school week and me putting in less than 40. We lounge Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays in front of our wood burning stove, reading and baking and breaking up sibling brawls and watering the plants and reporting the status of the moon out the window.
You’d think after spending all week here I’d be itching to go someplace else.
That time will come, rest assured, when I simply can’t stand the sight of these four walls any longer. But for now, we are drinking up autumn, allowing it to get colder and colder without our fussing about it, and just simply letting ourselves rest.
I’ve got nothing much to complain about. Not yet.
See you again soon. Xoxo.