My wife’s knee surgery was 2 weeks ago, and she still needs assistance getting up and down from the bed, chair or wherever she’s resting and healing. I’ve been working from home for that period, and will continue to do so for about another week, depending on how she’s able to fend for herself in this wilderness we call home.
I call it a wilderness because A) the kids are home from school now and B) just look at these weeds!
Now if you’ve ever worked from home (I mean really working from home not “quote” working from home “quote”), then you know that there are tons of potential distractions. Not everyone is cut out for telecommuting. It takes a special type of discipline to avoid the perils that await. Most of them are right there, available to you at any time in any capacity. There’s TV, Wii Fit, food, blogging, Guitar Hero, reading blogs, movies, commenting on blogs, youtube, organizing your closet, general video games, lottery scratchoffs, home computer, playing with wireless settings, testing the fire pit, household chores, reading books, roller skates, taking DITL footage, snacking, converting VHS to DVD, testing older pantry food for freshness, experimenting with new dessert recipes, working on super secret blog projects, finding things to sell around the house, and filing.
The ability to resist these temptations is a learned habit; one is not born with this talent. It takes years of practice and constant refinement. Being raised with a good work ethic is an important factor, as is a hunger for excellence.
Fortunately, all of the above items have something in common. Can you spot it?
They are passive interruptions.
It’s not like the TV walks up to you and pokes your shoulder and nags you to turn it on and watch it. The pantry doesn’t cry at you from across the house saying the fridge is being unfair and besides, is too cold. The books don’t throw themselves at you in self-defense from the guitar hero controller. To put it in scientific terms, these interruptions are potential energy.
Contrast that with kids. Kids are kinetic energy. They *do* walk up to you, poke your shoulder and proactively nag you to watch it. Dogs can also be proactive with expressing their needs, but with dogs you can plan ahead, walk them before work and they leave you alone for hours on end.
Kids represent active interruptions.
Knowing this, I sat them both down ahead of time.
Me: Kids? come here, I need to discuss something with you.
Them: *collects themselves*
Me: Ok, I need you to understand something. Daddy’s going to be working from home to help Mommy while her knee gets better. That means I actually need to work here like I work at work. It means I need to be free from interruption all day. Do you understand that?
Me: I need you both to take care of yourselves as much as possible and not ask me to do things while I’m working. Don’t ask me to play with you, don’t ask me to help you, and don’t ask me to feed you. I’m supposed to be dedicated to my job and Mommy is the only one who can interrupt me. Got it?
Me: And something that’s also very important – while I’m working, I don’t want to hear the two of you arguing or fighting. I might be on the phone, or I might be working on something important and the distraction is something I don’t want to have while I’m working. If I have to stop working to break up an argument or whining, it’s going to be bad for you.
Mommy: Don’t just tell them it will be bad, tell them what will happen.
Me: I don’t know what it is now, but it will be bad
Jaden: You mean, like you might take something away from us?
Me: Yes, definitely. At the very least, that will happen.
Jaden: Can you take away something, like a toy, that we don’t like?
What’s cute is he was completely serious with his question.