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Posts Tagged ‘time management’

It’s critical for your sanity and for the sake of work actually getting done to establish clear boundaries for the home office. This pertains to space – where is your workspace and who is allowed access to it – and to when you’re ‘at the office’ and when you’re ‘at home.’

I’ve highly recommend having a dedicated workspace, whether it’s a desk, an alcove, or an actual room. Right now, I’m lucky enough to have a room, with a door that closes. The monkeys, Mr. Daddy, and our former nannies all know that if the door to my office was closed, they should act like I’m not home. Even when I didn’t have a door to close, I made it clear to everyone in the house that when I was ‘at work’ – sitting at my desk – I was unavailable.

I never really have had auditory privacy, which means I know what’s going on in the house even when I’m at work.  Sometimes I would hear stuff going on and help out, especially when the monkeys were tiny babies. But I found that as they got older, it became really hard for them to see me pop in and out of their day but not have me to play with. So it was better for them and for me that when I’m working, I’m working and when I’m done, I’m done. When they’re home while I’m at work, I keep water and snacks nearby so they don’t have to see me while I’m working.

One thing I’m less good at is evening boundaries for when I’m at home. It’s almost impossible not to dip in and out of email in the evenings to see what’s up in my West Coast office. Ideally, I’d cut that out and make the boundaries even more sharp – perhaps by setting aside 15-20 min to check and respond to email once in the evening so I can have some regular down time. But I haven’t quite gotten there yet. It’s a work in progress.

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To say I’m not a creature of habit is an understatement. I get easily bored when I follow the same schedule day after day,  rarely walk the same route to the grocery store,  and don’t even like to eat the same thing for breakfast two days in a row.

You can imagine the shock that hit my system when the monkeys arrived. Suddenly, I was responsible not just for one baby who wanted routine and consistency, but two. I was outnumbered. And truth be told, it didn’t take long before I learned a thing or two from them, and began to crave the predictability of a schedule and routine not just for their benefit but for my own. We became a highly routinized baby care machine for the first year of the monkeys lives. And even now, at 2.5 years old, we’re still pretty entrenced in our routines. Although we do mix it up with a variety of choices at breakfast, we always walk the same route to school, always nap at the same time every day, and have a very specific bedtime routine.

I’ve learned from them that a little predictability goes a long way towards keeping the chaos that comes with living with multiple small people if not at bay, then at least at a manageable level. And it helps ensure that everything that needs to happen does, so that the household runs sort of smoothly.

Which brings me to my post from last week about trading off sex for work. I think one of the reasons that its such an easy thing to do, and to keep up once you’ve established the habit, is that work tends to follow routines and schedules, and sex does not.

Whether we prefer to play it loose or are creatures of habit and structure, most of us have routines for the things that have to get done. But we don’t always have routines for the things that we like to do, like sex, reading, exercising, or spending 15 minutes a day just breathing. At least I don’t – do you? (Ok, I have heard of people that routinely have sex every night, but I don’t believe they exist.)

A team that I’m on at work has started building time into thier daily schedule for team inversions. Yes, they get together at the same time every day and practice being upside down together. How great is that? Another team at work has built in a highly ritualized group snacking time. These scheduled pleasures go a long way towards building a sense of team and help the teams keep their brains engaged over long days of mind-numbingly hard thinking.

While the anti-structure part of me wants to be able to fit in the fun stuff spontaneously, the realist know that it’s a recipe for letting it not happen. Ask any mother of a toddler who doesn’t have a specific exercise schedule how often she works out and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve already started a routine around yoga. I’m going to start creating them around other things: reading, sex and movies. Hopefully, that will be enough to keep me from taking on too much extra responsibility at work.

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