I’ve been trying, when possible, to telecommute a few days a month in an effort to save money and do my share to curb our national jones for gasoline. There are other nice things about it too. Like this morning, when I dozed through the alarm while my wife prepared for work, poured out cereal for the kids and went right to my desk to sip coffee, check e mails and get caught up on news. By skipping a morning shower, I also saved about two gallons of water a minute.
Of course, the kids are home or the summer and our sitter has the week off, so I’ve got three short people flocking around my legs, asking me for stuff. If I’m going to get any work done, I’ve got to tire them out. So I herd them into the car and bring them to the swimming pool at the YMCA, strap them into lifejackets and let them flap around in the water for a couple hours. On the way home we pass a lunchtime festival at Center City Park. There’s free ice cream.
In addition to cutting my weekly gas consumption by about 20 percent, I also don’t need to pay the caregiver. I don’t need to stop and buy coffee. I don’t need to buy lunch. I don’t need singles for the soda machine. It’s one less outfit to put in the washer for the week, a day off for the wear and tear I put on my shoes and one day I don’t spend behind the wheel of my car for at least an hour. Time is even more valuable than money.
Never-ending coffee pot
I drink a lot of coffee, partially because I love the way it tastes and also because it helps me maintain a high level of energy throughout the day. It also usually means a trip from the office down to my friend Toshi’s place, Coffee & Roses, for a cup of that sweet, sweet nectar at a couple bucks per pour. But here, in my home, I can keep the coffee pot rolling all day. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s like a Howard Johnson’s up in here.
Frankly, we just loaded up at Costco and I’ve been eating all day. Sandwiches. Pretzels. Those pre cooked honey-barbecue wings. A little more ice cream. And a plum.
A don doesn’t wear shorts
We don’t exactly adhere to a strict dress code at the YES! Weekly offices, but I try to look at least presentable when I go to work. That means I don’t wear flip-flops. I hate them, and don’t even get me started on those ridiculous Crocs. Also, ever since Carmine Lupertazzi advised Tony Soprano, after hearing that Tony exposed his knees at a family barbecue, that “a don doesn’t wear shorts,” I have eliminated short pants from my professional wardrobe. I’ve got ’em on today, though.
I worked out of a home office for four years before I moved into the YES! Weekly suite, and I was pretty damn productive, feeding a freelance career that grew in fits and spurts every year. So I’m familiar with the distractions other home-officers cite as being detrimental to workflow, and I know to stay off frivolous websites and keep the television dark. But in the old days I had an actual office, which is now Babygirl’s room, and I could close the door against the family’s encroachment. Today I’ve got a bored 5-year-old wandering past my workspace rubbing his head and looking for someone to talk with about how awesome Cartoon Network is. It will be easier when they get back to school.
Keeping priorities straight
Still, there’s something to be said for having the wee ones close. They are my kids, after all, and more so than anything else in life, I’ve found that with children you get what you give. So I let the 5-year-old talk Pokemon for a bit, and pull Babygirl onto my lap while I’m typing. After I finish an editorial about the impending Olympic disaster (see page 19) I unwind by jamming out with my oldest son on a new video game, Star Wars Battlefront II. Together we master the controls and wipe out tons of battle droids.
The meta factor
Working from home used to be, for me, just “work.” But now that people are doing it all over the country for various reasons, I’m part of a trend! So not only am I working from home, some of the work I’m doing from home is about working from home. It boggles the mind.
Utilizing the 24-hour clock
When your office is right there in your home, office hours have a way of stretching. It’s easy to jump on the machine and check e-mails or read a news article while dinner is cooking. It’s convenient to make a few quick phone calls when you’re outside checking the mail. And it’s sometimes necessary to spend a few hours on the computer at night, after everyone’s gone to bed, to put the finishing touches on the day’s work.