I just ate a whole bag of cheese corn: Complications of working from home

I recently launched my own business, L-Co, specializing in communications, media, helping people realize their dreams. Here are my thoughts so far on my own dream job. I just ate a whole bag of cheese popcorn and other complications of working from home.

Just the Cheese Corn

Just the Cheese Corn

Yes, I ate the better part of the bag. It was really good popcorn. I kept munching away.  There was no one around to make me feel self conscious or to ask for a share. I work at home. I am alone for the better part of the day. Unless, like the past month, when the people that I live with weren’t at their various schools or jobs.

The housemates add an entirely different complication to this working at home business. For instance, due to inclement weather, the kids have been home quite a bit. They are about the house, watching movies that always have some loud battle scene or space traveling sound effects. When that finishes, they are ‘playing’ with the dog, which involves getting her wound up, running around the house and some yelling and barking- not always coming from the dog- if you get the picture. It is unpleasant outdoors. So, they are trapped in here, in my office singing a chorus of questions, ‘What is there to eat?’, ‘What are you doing?’, ‘What should I do?’,  ‘What can I eat?’, ‘When will Dad be home?’, ‘What’s for dinner?’ This is usually, where I snap and insist they go outside to shovel some snow or something. Suggesting a chore can usually buy me some time. At the mention of any type of work, they will slink off and remain quiet for a bit, in hopes that I will forget they are home, doing nothing.

June The Distractor

But, most days, I am home by myself, with a whole other set of distractions. Like the G.H. Cretors Just the Cheese Corn deliciousness, which according to their website is only helping me celebrate The National Snacking Month of February. Great. Other distractions including but not limited to: my pull toward domestic chores and my lack of defined office space and my yoga mat, which you already know is my napping spot and the dog has done something cute, naughty, gross, that I need to photograph. How could you not? The cute factor gets me every time.

So, How with all of this going on do I stay focused and get things done? Aside from the Cheese Corn for which I have no excuse or remedy, these are some methods that are working for me and some resources on the topic of staying focused and organized while working from home.

  • Establish work schedule and stick to it (Time Management): I have decided that my work day starts at 10:00 much to the annoyance of my housemates. They think this is a little late. Whatever, your schedule, set one and stick to it. This start time gives me the opportunity to shift from house chores like laundry and tidying the breakfast dishes into work mode. At which point…
  • I GET Dressed: including shoes, which indicates I am going to work now. Linda Cole wrote an article on this topic, posted on Linkedin suggesting ‘Never, ever  wear slippers.’ I think she is on to something there. Being dressed signals to me that I am serious and in a professional state of mind, ready to work.
  • I meet with collaborators outside of the house. We get together at a cafe to work on projects together. It is productive and breaks up the routine.
  • The tricky part is when to stop working. I have yet to master the discipline of not check my emails, or just one quick edit on that proposal and three hours later… The office is always there and tempts me. Just like the dog and the housemates and cheese corn tempt me from work. I imagine the balance will come.

I spent a long time locked into a 9-5 job working in an office and manufacturing setting. It is absolutely amazing and thrilling to me to be freed from one single workplace. I love the flexibility of working from home. I love the technology that allows me to take my office anywhere. I love the fact that the things that distract me from my work are the things that I love most and if the dog gets too cute, I can always go to the nearby coffee shop.

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Coexist

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to view the premiere of  the film, The Coexist Comedy Tour at the Traverse City Winter Comedy Festival. A friend offered me tickets and since I’m all about saying, “yes” more. I said, “Yes!” It was a wild wintery day. Brilliant, blinding sunshine followed by grey heavy clouds and white-out snow bursts and then sun again. And downtown Traverse City was humming with life. It was such a boost to be out with humanity wearing sunglasses and snow boots. I loved it!

So, about the film. “When a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, and an atheist walk into a bar… What in God’s name could possibly go wrong? After one comic bails, a live comedy concert film that started as an exercise in co-existence turns into a documentary, as the filmmakers desperately go in search of a funny Christian”. The film is Directed by Larry Brand, produced by Leland, Michigan locals Rebecca Reynolds and Jim Carpenter and stars comedians of the main world religions and an Atheist working it out with humor, including the ‘funny Christian’, John Fugelsang. It was refreshing, hilarious and unexpectedly, kind of touching.

As we, the humans, acclimatize to this relatively new cross-cultural, mass communicating, global community maybe humor can help bring us greater understanding of each other? And if not, at least, there is a laugh in it.

Do you know what really gets me?

Do you know what really gets me? And other things that mess with my Chi/Zen/ Calm Mind/ Whatever…

Being human has its complications and this is true for all of us, not just me. I really need to remember this truth. When I am thinking, ‘What the hell is wrong with that guy?’ or ‘Why on earth did I do/say/think that?’ TStophis is the time to remember, being human is complicated. Our brains are rather busy places.

I was dropping my son off at school this morning. The school run alone is an intensely choreographed human dance and there are kids involved which adds that higher level of unpredictability. If you have ever been to a school in the morning you know what I mean. All traffic rules are suspended, I understand. And that is ok, because there are kids involved. If you want to park in the middle of the road and chat with some other moms while your kid gets out of the car, I am good with that. I scheduled an extra 15 minutes into my morning to allow for the delays in the school parking lot. I expect this. I am prepared.

It is the intersection around the corner that gets me every day. You see, there are yield signs at this intersection. I seem to be the only one, who remembers that a yield sign becomes a stop sign when other traffic is present. I stop as you should and expect the other car to stop. But, they don’t. They never stop. It’s all nicey-nice at the school, where we are teaching our children that the world stops for them. And then around the corner. Dog-eat-dog. And I am often incensed, sputtering about traffic rules, “Am I the only one?”, looking around for an observer to confirm I am being wronged. Of course, there is no one. It is a rural school. It is just me and the law-breaker. And he can’t see that I am flipping him off, because I am wearing mittens. It’s all so frustrating. And I shake my head and think or shout, depending on the mood, “What is wrong with that guy?” and follow that up with, “Why are you so bent out of shape about this? Flipping a guy off wearing mittens is dumb. Relax, chill, you should expect this to happen and be cool about it.”

I know you are thinking that I might make some connection with life and this intersection. A metaphor about The yields and The stops. A way for us to be ok when things don’t go our way. A chance to practice patience and understanding. But, I can’t be cool with it. Something about other people not following the rules, really gets me wound up.

Why don’t I make the kid ride the bus? So, I can avoid this daily test of my patience. Good question. It’s like I said before, being human is complicated. I know two things. I am not going to wear my mittens tomorrow. And, I might consider a different route.

Winter Stinks

Ok, well judging by the title of the post, you can guess where my frame of mind is. I told you on the about page that I was given to bouts of self-pity and other self-destructive behavior. So, you were warned. It can’t always be unicorns and rainbows. I am truly fed up. The snow and more snow and temperatures below 20*- like all the time. And this has been an easy winter in terms of accumulation, hardly any snow at all, compared to averages for this Northern Michigan town. But, I am miserable. I called my husband at work, crying about winter.

Restored former mental hospital in Traverse City, Michigan

Restored former mental hospital in
Traverse City, Michigan

So, what is it about winter that becomes intolerable for me? Aside from the obvious, freezing ass temperatures and inconveniences of walking and driving on ice? It is an idle time. A quiet time for reflection and retreat. Lots of time spent around the fire with the family. It’s driving me crazy. I have had enough down time. I’m not at the Jack in The Shining point quite yet, but not far off. It’s Cabin Fever meets Winter Blues. I have to get OUTSIDE!

And so, what is there to do around here in February, if you aren’t on a plane to the Bahamas? I am seriously thinking about checking out this Yeti Fest coming up in Suttons Bay, Michigan. One of the events? A yeti look-a-like contest. What isn’t to love about that? I’m going. And then we have The Traverse City Winter Comedy Festival. Well timed, Mr Moore, well-timed. Everyone is desperate for some entertainment around here and could use a laugh. Maybe, I will pop into The Village at Traverse Commons for the indoor Farmer’s Market. It is located in The Mercato in Building 50. As a side note, the restoration project of this former state-run mental hospital is one of  the largest architectural repurpose projects in the country. It is a beautiful space and I’m sure that looking at kale and root vegetables will help me forget that it is 14* outside.

Anyone else feeling the cabin fever winter blues and want to join me for The Yeti Fest beard contest followed by some kale soup?