After reading Scott and Katie’s eloquent posts from the past few days, I was left to wonder what I can do to make myself useful. Then, while scrolling through Facebook last night and reading the reactions from all my friends and family new to working from home (heretofore referred to as “WFH”), it occurred to me that maybe I could put my 8+ years of WFH experience to use by sharing some tricks and tips I have picked up along the way.
I started to write that up, but, honestly…it was pretty boring and not that true to reality. Instead, I thought I would share with you a typical (work) day in the life of an experienced WFHer. It’s actually not that typical since everyone else in my family is also home right now thanks to social distancing but just play along.
(NOTE: Spare me the “You start your day at 8:30??” mockery. I spent years getting to an office at the crack of dawn…and then I got laid off. I start my day at a reasonable hour now.)
Ascend the stairs to my office on the 3rd floor, 2nd cup of coffee in one hand, 24 oz lime green Hydro Flask in the other.
Announce out loud, “I’m starting work now!”
Ignore office chair and desk and sit in easy chair instead (You don’t have an easy chair in your office? Get one. For…research purposes. Sure.)
Dog follows me upstairs, stops for a few head scratches, then continues into bedroom for her morning nap on the bed. She is technically not allowed on the bed, but we seem to have forgotten to tell her that.
Flip on SportsCenter (You don’t have a TV in your office?? Get one. Again, more research purposes.). I use it, um, for background noise while going through email. So. Much. Email.
Tom Brady is going to the Bucs??? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
[DELETE] [DELETE] [DELETE] Reply [DELETE] [DELETE] Reply [DELETE]
Turn off the TV and head back downstairs to resolve any personal hygiene issues. This maybe includes a shower. Probably not.
Attempt to ignore anyone in the house who tries to distract me along the way.
Walk back upstairs, stopping off in son’s room on the 2nd floor. He is, of course, still in bed.
Me: “Did you see Tom Brady is going to the Bucs?”
Him: “Yeah.” (This is pretty wordy for him.)
(note from Scott: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!)
Turn off the TV, gaze longingly at easy chair, but instead sit in my office chair at the desk. Continue answering email or begin working on high priority projects for the day.
Turn on music.
There is some strategy involved in my musical selection. If I am doing something where I need maximum focus and concentration – like reading grant proposals – then I will listen to something relaxing and without words (Miles Davis, John Coltrane) or with words I can’t understand (Sigur Ros, they sing in Icelandic.) If it’s something that takes less brain power – like entering scores into a spreadsheet – then I listen to something peppier (I won’t give any examples because everyone will just laugh at my inclination towards Dad Rock.) And if I’m doing something really mind numbing – like reading another one of Scott’s emails – then I really crank up the volume and listen to something like Rage Against the Machine or the Melvins.
The cat saunters in.
He scratches at the easy chair, knocks over some papers, tries to eat a plant, and then insists on laying on the keyboard while I’m working.
He is basically just a big a-hole (sorry, I know this is a family website.)
Eventually he climbs down onto my lap, curls up, purrs, and falls asleep. All is forgiven.
Snack time. God, I love snack time.
On the way back from the kitchen, stop in each kid’s room to check on them.
They are both on a device of some sort, supposedly doing homework. It’s hard to tell anymore.
Neither one seems particularly thrilled to see me, so I move back up to my office.
Whenever possible, I try to schedule my calls for 11 a.m. It’s my best time for a call. I finally feel awake enough to engage with other humans on an intelligent level, but lunch is right around the corner so the call can’t go too excessively long.
Sadly, it’s a rare day when I only have one call, so it really doesn’t matter.
Could this call have been an email? Of course.
The dog finally climbs out of bed and makes her way back into my office, sticking her head in the trashcan.
She begins stretching, a sure sign she is ready to go out.
Yell down the stairs for someone to take the dog out. No response.
Stomp down the steps mumbling under my breath about being the only one working and still have to take the dog out.
Ignore first email of the day from Scott.
Lunchtime! God, I love lunchtime.
My wife joins me for lunch and we chat. I have no idea where the kids are.
Peak productivity, baby!
I am cranking out work like one of those cheesy manufacturing movies we used to watch in school that shows how pencils are made or something.
I am a well-oiled machine.
Nothing can stop me!
The machine is out of oil.
I keep reading the same sentence over and over.
Time for coffee.
Coffee time! God, I love coffee time.
Walking down the steps, I hold out a small hope that someone has made coffee for their dear old dad.
No one has.
Ignore 2nd email from Scott asking why I am ignoring his first email.
Work email has finally lightened up. Time to respond to Scott…
(note from Scott: Derek spent his Wednesday afternoon sending me play-by-play updates every 5 minutes from Game 2 of the 1980 NLCS between the Phillies and Astros. He was apparently watching this on his “research” TV while “working.” I mean, this was a game from 40 years ago! But yeah, I’m the one who overindulges in meaningless emails…) (note from Derek: I would deny this if it were not true.)
Flood of work email comes pouring in. It never fails.
The other cat walks into the office with a confused look on her face.
She is not an a-hole like the first cat, but is dumb as a brick.
She rarely comes up to the 3rd floor and is probably just lost.
She is riveted by a rubber band under the desk.
I have lost all focus and the dog is whining to be let out. Again.
Work day over.