Thursday, December 03, 2009

Like the great cycle of life itself…

…my desk (and drawers, and all other flat surfaces in my office/bedroom) acquires massive piles of crap, which I then spend a few hours or days dealing with, so that I can dust the crumbs, cat hair and I don’t even WANNA KNOW off it and admire the pristine uncluttered appearance of my fully handled desk for a day or two.

And then, just like that whole life-death-rebirth thing…the piles come back.

I had a ‘work from home’ day today. I love my telecommute days for two reasons: One, I don’t have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to start the whole “putting on clothes / getting coffee / scraping children out of their nice warm beds / commuting for-evah” thing.

I can sleep in until, say, 5:30 instead. Which might not seem like much, so if you don’t get why that’s such a big deal…try getting up at 4:30 for a few days, and then give yourself a nice lie-in until 5:30.

You’ll see my point.

And the other reason is that, with that four-to-five hours of daily getting-there-and-back-again out of the picture, well. That’s five hours of time I have back for important things like sleeping and dealing with massive piles of miscellany that have, once again, infested my desk (and any other flat surface in my bedroom/office) like some kind of really persistent mold.

(I love paperwork. I love it so much. No, really. I also love the fact that I am the only person in the whole house who knows what to do with any and all pieces of paper, from the scribbled drawings of the enthusiastic and prolific Captain Adventure to benefit enrollment forms to things that make no sense whatsoever…like the pest control company I terminated service with back in September sending us a bill for November. Hmmmmm…)

Of course, the problem with working from home is that I don’t have to catch a train. The sitter has a very firm 6:30 pickup time in the evening, and in order to be 100% certain I’m going to make that, I must catch the 4:09 train out of Embarcadero.

It’s one of those commuting laws, as powerful as Murphy and just as stubbornly contrary: If I catch the 4:09 train, all will be well. There will be no accidents on the 580. No idiot will have crashed into any other idiot, nobody will have decided to take a nap on the BART rails or (which is actually a thousand times more likely) have decided that their catching this train is far more important than obeying piddly little rules so they just threw their laptop case (or shoulder, or whatever) into the door as it was closing, jamming it off the track and thus taking the entire train out of service so that we all have to get off and wait for the NEXT one, NICE GOING, JACKASS.

I’ll probably be pulling into town around 6:00. Possibly even earlier! On days that are holidays for just about everybody else, I might even be skidding into my driveway by 5:45! And even if there is an exception to this rule, I’m still usually home well before the 6:30 deadline – one day last week there was indeed Traffic due to an accident, but I was still at the babysitter’s house by 6:15 to collect my Adorable Offspring and head home.

If I am even five minutes later than that, if I miss that 4:09 train and have to catch the 4:24…disaster!

The trains will be late. There will be not merely traffic, but Traffic…all the way from Dublin over the hill. There will be accidents, roadwork, Acts of God Satan, protestors lining the streets banging drums and chanting End Fossil Fuels! End Fossil Fuels!…MASS HYSTERIA!

And it will be 6:35 before I am even getting off the freeway, and 6:45 before I get to the babysitter’s house.

At $1 per kid per minute, that’s a $60 penalty for being just five minutes late leaving the office.

Which makes for a pretty good motivator when Quittin’ Time rolls around at the old office, which is good because the kind of work I do is…well, to be honest? It’s a bit like playing a video game. Or maybe it’s more like a really good crossword puzzle. Whatever. You can easily lose track of time while working, is the point. You can also forget about personal hygiene, as we learned when we were both telecommuting full-time. “I’ll take a shower right after I figure out why the DDA field isn’t loading properly in the MSRV_ACT table during the secondary load…{three days later}…what IS that nasty smell?!...oh…it’s me, yeah, heh-heh, I’ll go take a shower right no-…hang-on-a-second, why do I have a failure on Validation 276,208? Didn’t that load happened last night? Wait, who put a third EXEC into that statement, it can’t handle a third EXEC, it’ll cause a timeout error…lemme just handle this REAL QUICK, and THEN I’ll…”

...three days later, the neighbors put together an Intervention because the smell from my armpits is causing property values to plummet all over the neighborhood...

Anyway! So, guess what happens when I’m working from home?

I start the day saying, “Sweet! It’s 7:00, I’m getting started, I’ll work straight through, be done by 3:00, and then I’ll take a shovel to this pile of crap on my desk, clean something, get dinner ready to go, run a couple errands, pick up the Denizens early, it’ll be awesome!

And then 3:00 rolls around and I spend just “five more minutes” on the Problem At Hand for, like, three hours and suddenly I’m going, “OH CRAP! I GOTTA GO GET THE KIDS!!!” because it’s 6:15 and what is wrong with me?!?!

And then the kids file in, dump yet more crap onto the piles of crap already infesting my life and instead of making any progress on All That…I’m six inches deeper under it.

I am determined that this will not be the case today.

Which is why I’m only two hours later than my 3:00 quitting time, and about to dive right on in to those piles, the forms and bills and ‘do something with this’ and end of year filings and the (!) 697 new emails in my inbox (holy crap…quick, somebody throw me a life ring, I’m drowning…)

Oh yeah. Time management skilz. I haz them…


Science PhD Mom said...

So if you ever figure out the secret to managing those piles of paper, would you let me know? Actually I would probably PAY someone to let me know how to do that, since I am sure at some point in the future I will permanently lose the battle with the onslaught of paperwork and be buried under the multiplying piles. I call them "Tribble papers". I hate them.

Lydee said...

lol! good luck!