In the very old days (think covered wagons and polyester jumpsuits), I worked in a cubicle. I was expected to be in that cubicle at 8:00 am every morning, even when I was tired, and I was expected to work continuously, even when it was sunny outside or my dog needed a little attention.
It was a sad time. I dreamed a lot of staying home, working bralessly and bosslessly, writing the great American novel or at least some dime novel crap that made a little money. (I didn’t know about FileMaker Pro yet).
Then one day, I began working at home. (sorry to skip the story arc, but we’re jumping ahead to the wisdom-gained part). I learned some hard lessons very quickly, including these:
- Dime novels often live up to their names
- Dogs never need a little attention. They need all the attention. All the time.
- Working bralessly is great, but working bosslessly is hard.
I’ve never been one for soap operas and the internet wasn’t quite the wonderland of cat pictures and political arguments that it is now, but I still found ways to be distracted. I could go through strings of days without getting anything done. I had to learn how to work at home.
Skipping forward again (if you want story middles you’ll have to read my life on Facebook), I went through some stuff and wasn’t able to write for a while. Then I went through some more stuff and became a FileMaker Pro developer.
FileMaker provides a great opportunity, and I was anxious to share it with other smart women I knew. For most of them, it didn’t really take. They loved the idea, but when it came to downloading the trial, going through the tutorials and doing the practice work, it didn’t happen.
I get it. Work, life, kids, and the infernal pleading brown eyes of a dog who has gone minutes without being petted. I still have all those things too (most — I switched from dogs to cats). It took me a while to figure out the difference.
All those years of writing had prepared me to be a FileMaker Pro developer. At some point, probably when I was disgusted with myself for flittering months away, I’d gone and learned to “be my own boss.”
I can’t tell you exactly how I flipped that switch, but I can give you some ideas of how to build your work-at-home muscles. I’ve used all these tricks at different times both for writing and developing, rotating them in and out as my moods and needs change.
- Written? Kitten!
- Write or Die
- Charting and graphing. I’ve kept time cards, competed with myself for word counts, graded myself on achievements, given numerical values to achievements . . . I respond to accruing values, so I assign values and accrue them.
- Working for charity. I’m obsessed with certain social issues, so I’m constantly tempted to argue on the internet instead of working. It’s easy to justify — combating racism is more important than completing these scripts! Combating racism, yes. Arguing on the internet, not so much. So instead I pay myself by the hour. For every hour I work, I earn a dollar to send, that very day, to my biggest worry. I have literally sent donations in the amount of $9.50 to our local community service center and 10.25 to a pet rescue.
What are your best strategies for keeping your focus when you work at home?