Wednesday, May 25, 2011

staying motivated while working at home

I cannot imagine how people who work from home full time do it. I admire that they have so much motivation and focus. I, however, am a mess when working from home.

As I've mentioned in the sidebar, I'm a college professor (non-tenure track if you know anything about the academic life--it's not relevant to this particular post, but I'll talk about the non-tenure track someday, I promise). Summer is both a blessing and a curse for me. I love that I have a flexible work schedule. This week, for instance, I went in yesterday from 9-2 and that's it. I can work from home all the other days. And my work load? It's much reduced from the load during a regular semester. I'm not currently teaching, so there are no students to confer with or grade papers for, and my work projects aren't due in any immediate fashion. I can work on them slowly and over the next few weeks/months whenever I feel like it.

The problem: I just don't feel like it. I can find a million other things to do. I'm halfway through the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, I'd love to work on the backyard, I have plenty of trashy tv on the dvr to catch up on, and there are movies to get to, both in the theater and on dvd. Man, those work projects seem pretty low on the list! I haven't even mentioned the internet (my most significant time suck). I have done almost nothing today. I conducted one phone interview with a potential instructor for fall and that's it.

I suppose I need to learn some tricks of the WAHM trade, like making myself a schedule, planning my long-term projects by breaking them down into smaller pieces (and giving myself interim due dates for these pieces), and limiting my "fun" time during the day. I've done this before...when I wrote my dissertation, I broke the chapters into little chunks and did what my friend and I called "hits," which were small increments of time to write that, if I met my day's quota, would be rewarded with a matinee or a take-out dinner. Without this strategy, I would have remained ABD forever. Not so incidentally, it was during this dissertation-writing time that I discovered I had adult ADD, and this "hit" strategy is one that I've since read about in books as one strategy that works well for people with limited attention spans. I wish I had realized the ADD thing earlier in my adult life. (Strangely, I don't think I had problems with ADD as a child/adolescent...could it have developed in college sometime? Hmmm.)

Let's just start today. Here is my list of things to do before 4:30 when I pick up W from daycare (none of which are work-related, I know, but at least they'll get me up off my butt):
- clean up the deck in the backyard, but don't linger. Just get it done. Tomorrow, I'll work on planting some flowers in the deck planters.
- vacuum. sigh.
- clean up kitchen (mostly clean, but needs a sprucing)
- grocery shop (milk, butter, cookies?)
- do my ICLW comments for the day (joy!)

That's an easy list, right? For crying out loud, I can do this! If anyone has suggestions about how they manage to get things done when they're working at/around/from home all day, they'd be sorely appreciated. I am clearly not good at this timte management thing and could use all the help I can get.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rachael! Just found your blog and noticed that you have me linked from the sidebar! Wow, thanks, so cool. I work from home part-time, and somewhat seasonally, having just finished my busy season. I've run a business from home in the past, but doing it for the first time this year with baby proved rather difficult - I'm not sure that I'll be up for it again next year! For me, there were a few things that helped get me on-track. One was deadlines (even if self-imposed) and guilt about meeting those deadlines. Fear does wonders for my productivity. Another was hiring some childcare for a few hours a week (then a couple hours a day during my busiest times) so that I could focus. When my childcare provider was here, I felt like I HAD to make the best use of my time, because I was paying her and I wasn't going to get this time again later. When the babe was napping, my childcare provider would wash dishes or start the laundry or sweep for me (it was heavenly!)

    Making a loose schedule, a daily to-do list and some kind of incentive for myself was important. If I could start the day with a small whirlwind of accomplishment (cleaning up the last of the dishes from last night, getting dinner started in the crock pot, starting a load of laundry) I would feel better about the whole day.

    I also "scheduled" in blogging time, because that was what revived my mind and allowed me some processing time. For instance, whenever second nap occurred that was my blogging time. I would write or read or sometimes just surf, but that was my time for the day to do nothing but what I wanted. And knowing that dinner was already started or the laundry was in the machine helped take the guilt out of that.

    Good luck! It's a hard balance to strike. When in doubt, make a list and eat some chocolate.