Wednesday, November 14, 2012

There's no place like home, or a home office

I feel like it's been raining A LOT the past week or so.  The odd thing is, it's actually been pretty warm.  Yesterday we got close to 14 C (or 57 degrees F for our American friends).  I hear the weather reports in Kansas and as soaked as I feel I'm not really ready for sub-freezing temps just yet.  And yes, I did just begin my blog post with a weather report.  Meteorologist till the end.

There have been no big adventures this past week.  There weren't any major revelations or Irish quirks that seemed to jump out at me.  It was just...normal.  I'm sure that the land of Oz still has things left to surprise me, it's just that it didn't really surprise me this week.  Scarecrow and I seem to have settled in and now that we've passed the 3 months married mark (woo-hoo!) we seem to finally be accepting the fact that the other person isn't going anywhere.  Can you blame us?  After 5 years of an on again/off again, trans-Atlantic relationship we had some decent adjusting to do.  This morning, for instance, was a bit manic.  Wait, that was just me?  Still a good lesson in normality.  We had Toto (my step-daughter) with us last night and so I got her up, ironed her uniform, got her up again, made her breakfast/his lunch, dropped her off at her bus stop and barely made it back in time to swipe a quick peck before Scarecrow's lift to work showed up.  It was strange, but in a good way.  Does that make sense?  No, probably not.  But like I said, we have adjusted to life as we know it.  Are we done adjusting?  Absolutely not.  He still laughs at the sound I make when I brush my teeth and I still get woken up by his grizzly bear-like snoring.  It's funny how life progresses.

As I said, I don't have any witty anecdotes to share with you this week.  Instead, I have something else.  I work from home on my thesis.  Well, I try very, very hard to work from home.  I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me in order to stay focused and accomplish as much as possible in a day.  Some things have been great and others not so much.  I think it's very person dependent but I thought I'd share some tips/things I really wish I could have to help make working from home much easier. 

Working From Home 101
  1. WAKE UP AT A REASONABLE TIME, exercise, eat breakfast, shower.  Get everything out of the way that could be used as a potential distraction later.  I don't mean clean the house from top to bottom but I'm finding that if I empty the dishwasher or maybe catch up on reading my blogs BEFORE I start working than I have fewer excuses later in the day to stop what I'm doing.  Oh, and put on real pants.
  2.  If there are other people in the house (it feels like my house is the Times Square of the Emerald City sometimes) make sure they know that this is what you're doing during the day.  I really don't mind this kind of distraction once in awhile during the day.  I do get to feeling very anti-social if everyone's around and I'm holed up somewhere on my laptop.  But, and this is more a message to me, don't let it distract TOO much.  
  3. Set "office hours" for yourself.  This is one I am still experimenting with and want to get better at.  I will typically work off and on, here and there.  But I know when I had my office at the university that when I had a dedicated chunk of time to work, it was go time.  So make sure you know what time "go time" is and stick to it.
  4. Have a dedicated space.  Again, this is a tricky one right now.  On the days when Scarecrow leaves me the car I try and go to the library and work for awhile.  I know this is contrary to the title "working from home" but sometimes I just can't find the right space at home to work.  Some things that I love about working in the library that I wish I could have at home: a chair with a straight back that is short enough I can put both feet on the floor; a clean, blank, flat surface to work on; lots of big windows.  All I want is my laptop and my notebook on my work surface.  That's it.  They have these great white tables at the library that are a bit mod looking.  If I could have one of those and put it in a space with a lot of natural light I think this whole working from home thing would be so much easier.  Or maybe something along these lines. source

  5. I feel like every good "how-to" list should have 5 things.  So here it is.  Be accountable to someone.  I think a lot of people who work from home have to report up to someone.  I am grateful I have a weekly meeting with my adviser via Skype that keeps me on the ball.  I want to be sure that I've accomplished what I need to before I talk with him.  But there are those lucky people who are their own boss.  Who do they report to in order to stay on the ball?  I would suggest to those, find someone you can check in with.  Friend, colleague, it doesn't really matter who.  Just someone you can call and say, "This is what I wanted to get done and this is what actually got done".
With that out of the way now that it's 10am in Oz I'm going to have a shower, eat breakfast, and get to work.   Hopefully...


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