Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My work-at-home productivity conundrum

As far as I can remember, I don't think that I have ever really made any serious New Year's Resolutions. This year, however, I have made a pact with myself regarding my own productivity and focus. One of the reasons is that, with my advancing age, I feel profoundly aware that I have not necessarily accomplished as much as I would have liked. Since getting pregnant and having kids, I sometimes feel like 10 years of my life has flashed by (even though the days often seemed very long) and I have barely kept my head above water.

I could blame many things for my dissatisfaction and sometimes I do start a blame game, but the only benefit to that really is that I also generally pinpoint something that I have control over and can change myself. 

As an artist, I am fortunate to be able to work from home. This is something I have always wanted. I like the flexibility, especially with a family, and I also really relish regular alone time. I do some freelance vfx work here and there but mostly I am working on my own art/music projects. Now that my children are both in school full time, I finally have consistent, regular and substantial blocks of uninterrupted time in which to get work done (after 9 years of wishing). Almost 7 hours a day! That's a lot. Unfortunately, I have not been nearly as productive as I should be!

There are a few problems that I have identified, most of which seem specifically related to working from home. Firstly, I don't like a mess or clutter, so its hard for me to turn a blind eye to things around the house that need to be done. My instinct is to clean up before I get to work. This might not be such a bad thing except that when I compile the list of "distractions (duties)" that I tend to before I get to work, my block of work-time starts to shrink immeasurably. What started out as a 6.5 hour block of time, can quickly become a 2 hour block of time after I have "just done these dishes" and "just picked up that lego" and "just called the dentist to make an appointment" and "just thrown in this load of laundry" and "just chopped these vegetables and put the dinner in the crockpot" and "just texted the piano teacher" and "just scheduled an oil change for the car" and even maybe "just checked facebook and twitter" etc...

If I then try to add regular, daily exercise into this window of time, combined with the occasional social invitation (which I am usually pretty good at declining) and the fact that I spread myself way too thin with (worthy, I think) activities (like writing a blog!) my nice, big block of time becomes severely compromised. Admittedly, I also need to learn to say "no" more often. Anyway, the day can just easily fly by without me getting much or any work done and yet its not as if I am sitting around eating bonbons.

I am sure this sounds like a ridiculous conundrum to those working parents who work outside of the home. They don't have the luxury of putting in a load of laundry while working, but I think there is something helpful about things being "out of sight, out of mind." At least it would be helpful to me!

So my productivity pact for this new year goes something like this: 
From the time I drop my kids off at school, until I pick them up I will NOT go online, answer the phone, do any dishes, laundry, tidying lego, sorting my desk, bill paying, errands, getting dinner in the crockpot, learning new software, facebooking, blogging, emailing, Grey Sparrow Goods, grocery shopping, socializing, not even exercise! I am clocking in to work after drop off and putting blinders on to all the things that constantly interfere with me getting my work done. These tasks will just have to fit in "after work" or not get done. I will just paint and work on art/music during working hours and that is it! (If I can achieve an 80% success rate, I will be satisfied and probably way more prolific. That's my goal!)

So, there you have it. I am hoping I have more to show for this year than a (barely) tidy house, a minimal level of fitness and well-fed children. I'll keep you posted as I am sure there will be bumps in the road, but I also bet I will come up with new and better solutions to fitting in all of the things that I need and want to do. So many things!

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