Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"You're Not Busy, Are You?"

I have two of the best jobs in the world. First, of course, is writing. The other one is an online job, administering an educational program. Both allow me to work at home, on my own schedule. I tend to work while the kids are at school and in the evenings, after they've gone to bed. No childcare needed, no business wardrobe, no need to go any further than the basement office to get to work. It's great.

One of my favorite things about working at home is the flexibility. Last week I chaperoned my youngest's field trip to the children's museum, and I didn't have to ask for time off. I just worked extra hours the day before and the day after. When I went to the RT Convention, I told my supervisor that I'd be out of state, and brought my cell phone and computer with me so I could be accessible to students. Most of them didn't even know I was gone.

But one of the downsides of working at home is the perception that your time is always that free. Can you pick that up for me, can you bring this down to the office, do you mind watching the kids for a couple of hours? And I don't mind helping out, but it can be difficult to place limits on my work time and say, no, I can't. No, I really do need to work on my files today. No, I can't run to the town 30 miles up the road to get that item for the classroom. There's an expectation that because my jobs CAN be flexible, I should be available at a moment's notice.

So I struggle with saying no, even though I know I should more than I actually do. Does anybody else deal with this sort of situation? And if so, how do you handle it?


Meg Benjamin said...

Since I retired from my "day job," I've encountered some of these problems too. But I've found the biggest invader of my time is me. I have to keep reminding myself that just because I don't go to the office anymore, that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of things I need to do, and reading Huffington Post isn't one of them!

PG Forte said...

I used to have to deal with the same situation...oh, who am I kidding, I still do to an extent, although to be honest the regular interruptions have fallen off a lot now that my kids are no longer kids and no longer in school.

How do I deal with it...well, I don't keep a phone in my office and if I'm writing I don't pick up calls.

And yes, I feel really, really bad about that!

Debra St. John said...

I definitely don't have the discipline to work from home. My own thoughts, let alone someone else's, of hey, I have time to do anything I want would always interfere with getting things done.

I really admire people who have the self-discipline to "boss themselves" so to speak.