Saturday, February 23, 2019

Telework's Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

Well! I would have posted last weekend, but Larry has this weird fixation on "doing taxes" and "staying out of jail," so I worked on our 1040 instead. That wasn't fun. Turns out we owe money because what one spouse means when she says (after doing the taxes for 2017), "You should lower the number on our withholding" and what the other spouse hears are apparently two different things.

We're both native English speakers, you know. There's no excuse for this. Yet, here we are.

PERFECT representation of our crappy winter this year
We had a snow day this week (Look away, Midwesterners! You wouldn't have even recognized it as such), so I actually got to work from home all day instead of going to the office.

Remember? I have a job. Maybe I haven't mentioned it enough...

So I worked from home on Wednesday, and you know what? It wasn't nearly as relaxing and energizing as NOT working from home. Seems that when you're working from home, you can hear the laundry calling you, and you can see what a mess your house is, and people keep talking to you and asking you things, and you can't avoid noticing that strange smell emanating from the refrigerator.

Found this in my fridge - from December, maybe?
Now, as some of the more astute among you may be aware, I am slated to start working at home within the month. This is a telework position, after all. Oh, sure, they'd let me stay at the office if I really wanted to, but there's this small issue of my having completely abandoned my children for the past 2 months just to get this job (with all my friends valiantly picking up the slack of supplying rides and entertainment and what-have-you). I can't keep doing that.

I mean, I thought about it, but...

So, yeah, I'm bracing myself for a major adjustment period. I mean, how DOES one continue blithely ignoring all other responsibilities while working from home? Is that issue addressed in those career women magazines I've never read, because I've been too busy being unemployed? Do those magazines even exist anymore?

Happily, Brian will be home the first week of March (for "Spring" Break, apparently); so I told the tech people at work that I needed the monitors and other equipment by then, so my teen could set them up for me. Which, it turns out, may have been oversharing, because they looked at me strangely...

Look, you have to hook things all TOGETHER. With a special thing that you plug into another thing. Dammit, people, I'm a wordsmith, not a tech wizard.

So, anyway, I have to find a desk to stick in my yarn studio, so Brian has somewhere to set this all up. Larry found a perfectly nice corner desk on CraigsList, but he put that in the guest bedroom in the basement, which I've also dubbed his study, even though he doesn't really ever go in there. Now all that's left on CraigsList is astonishingly ugly. I swear, all the pictures on there look so seedy, as if they were taken in a meth house or a murder scene.

I'm just babbling now, ignore me. Larry always does.

Speaking of my yarn studio (we were speaking of that, right?), I'm a little late for my annual giveaway of the Yarn Harlot's book Knitting Rules. Of course, I don't have THAT many regular readers, so maybe I've given everyone a copy already? If not, throw your name in the hat (well, in the comments, actually) and make sure I have a way to reach you if you win!A

This book (as I've explained before, and also here, and probably a dozen other places) was a life-changer for me, which really, how many books can you say that about? I can't even remember why I picked it up in the first place - maybe I was looking for an instruction book? And, yes, it does have some patterns (or more like recipes, really) for projects, but those are interspersed with all sorts of funny ruminations on the knitting life and the creative process.

It's a fun read, is what I'm saying, and maybe it will change your life, too. Who knows?


  1. I work at my paid job (part time) in my home. (I never understood the expression "I work from home." No. I work at home, or in my home.) Yes, it is important to blithely ignore household responsibilities. This is not too hard for me, when it comes to housework, because I am unlikely to do housework in any circumstance. It is much harder to do paid work when there are other people around who have expected you to do household things. I find it important to ignore it when others seem to think that you can do two things at once while working at home. If you have a job, you can do your job. Period. If you went to an office nobody would expect you to go put in a load of laundry on your way to the weekly meeting. If you are taking a break from your job, you could do other things about the house, but you probably should just take a break and walk around to get the feeling back in your legs that you lost from sitting for so long. THat's what I have to do.

    I did my first preliminary run-through of our tax return. Instead of being able to fill them out "on a postcard" as had been promised to allus Americans, I had to use all the old forms PLUS three NEW forms. It's not so much the paying of taxes that I object to, it's the knots I must tie myself in to understand how to file the tax return. I am trying to refrain from using obscenities on someone else's blog so I will have to stop talking about taxes.

    I am not in the running for the knitting book. I prefer to simply admire other people's knitting prowess. I admire yours!

  2. I have worked from home, without anyone else around, and loved it. But that "without anyone else around" part was sort of vital for the loving it part, for me. Whether it's possible to fit in some isolated household tasks or not depends a lot on the work you're doing. My type of work has "think for a while and then type madly" sections, and then also occasional "wait 5-15 minutes while the computer completes this process" sections; the first were great to do from home, because instead of feeling like you ought to *look* like you're working hard at your open-plan-office desk, at home you have full freedom to sprawl or stretch or get a cup of tea or do stuff that doesn't take your brain, and it helps you solve the problem faster. And the "computer is occupied" breaks provided opportunities for minor household tasks or getting up for a cup of tea.

    But none of that was at someone else's convenience - one generally cannot time work micro-downtime to match up with people wanting things from you, and also I don't think it's generally possible to keep your brain working full speed ahead on one thing while dealing with a different topic with present human beings.

    I guess: I think 1. a door that closes when you are working and 2. some training of the household as to expectations and rules (cases in which it is okay to knock on the door; cases in which it is not okay; cases in which to slip a note under the door for you to read when you next have a focus-gap in work) will probably both be necessary? And figuring out how much time and energy you really do have "leftover" from work hours, that can be apportioned to household tasks.

    But: ugh. It is definitely not possible to use the same time to Homemake and to do (most kinds of) Paid Work, and yet so many people think that just because you are physically in the house while working, things will magically get cleaned out of the fridge, you will be available to talk to callers or ferry kids at any time, etc. But doing most housework/family-manager endeavors requires focus, mental energy, and time. And most work requires focus, mental energy, and time. And these resources are limited! Harrumph.

    Good luck!

  3. Even though my kids are now grown, three of them live with us and there are constant interruptions (and I'm just talking about the retired husband). If you can get a desk in your yarn studio (I love that) and close the door, that will be a huge step toward making it all work out -- if you can avoid the temptation of staring at the yarn.

  4. I think you should tell the office you will only be tele-working twice a week. You'll need 3 days in the office to recover from doing two jobs all day long while working "at home."

    Thanks for the offer of the book, but I already have it. :)

  5. Ah working from home - it does sound lofty and so streamlined, but I can see where you would struggle with what you do for work and what is staring you down and screaming for attention. I think the closed door on the yarn room should work. Can you drag the corner desk up from the basement? If it isn't being used and all. I work from home, um babysitting for teachers' kiddos - but thanks to nap time and the occasional 'oh-they-are-playing-so-nicely' times, I am able to do a load of laundry, bake, cook dinner, make doc appointments, etc. (Not all at once and not every a guarantee, mind you). Remember I do change lots of dirty diapers, and my house that could be void of toys is littered with them, and parents are sometimes crazy - so, embrace your day job that's 'real', I guess.

  6. Oh, and the 'look away, Midwesterners' totally cracked me up . . . from Chicago!

  7. I work at home A LOT, and not for any other reason than it is easier than driving an hour and a half away. Luckily, the only expectations for me to get things done are the ones I put on myself.

    Yarn room... my dream. I found a knitting needle organizer at a yarn shop and bought it! "Don't you want to know how much?" said the lady. "No, no I don't. I'm tired of looking and thinking about it." Bought for an obscene amount, but worth every penny because I don't have to think of it any more and my needles are organized!
    Now the yarn thing... still working on that. Son 2, Sam, just announced he is moving to Utah to join his brother and move their welding business out there. I didn't think I was going to get an office, but now, apparently I am. Maybe there is room for a yarn corner in my new office with the best view in the house. Kind of makes him moving out not quite so painful.

    I'll say yes to the book if I win!

  8. I would love the book. I have worked from home but only part time. So I could find a few hours here and there to get it done. Good Luck
    Sue H

  9. I could use a change, and a book, too.

  10. I work from home and yes, it is a struggle. You do have to ignore your kids and your mess...sometimes. It does not feel natural, but, it is what it is in order to bring in extra money. You can put my name in the hat for the knitting book - since I am still just a crocheter that is scared to try knitting!

  11. According to the training I was required to take on teleworking (while not actually having anything I could telework with) you aren't supposed to do anything but actually work when you are teleworking lol.

  12. I'm appreciate your writing skill. Please keep on working hard. Thanks for sharing.