The Peril of a Home Office


My daughter and son-in-law have the luxury of working from home. Yet, under most circumstances they opt not to do that. I have been perplexed wondering why they’d maintain an office elsewhere when they could just as easily work from home. Think about the advantages. For one thing, you wouldn’t need to dress business casual simply to sit on the sun porch and enjoy the view between phone calls and the need to be on the computer. Secondly, there would be absolutely no wasted commute time. Add to that the ability to negate the expensive involved in maintaining an office and it sounds too good to be true.   I’m slow, but I think I’ve figured it out. It sounds too good to be true because when you work from home that’s all you do at home.

Actually, the General figured it out yesterday before I did. “So, are you going to be on that computer all evening?” It was a legitimate question. I was on the computer yesterday morning before the General knew it was morning and it was time for bed… no change that… it was past time for bed when I got off last night.

Is it the quest to accomplish one-more-thing that drives that insatiable need to import one more file or transfer one more report or do this or do that? Honestly, yesterday was a very atypically day for me. After weeks of waiting for access to the domain for my new role with the Coalition of Residential Excellence, I foolishly thought I’d have an easy time of populating computer files and getting everything set-up.

Truth be known, for me to simply remember the password I need to access the information is about the extent of my skill set. I transmitted information to our membership yesterday morning and discovered one of the attachments (a one page attachment) somehow appeared to be over-size for any system to allow it to download. Explainable? I’m sure it is, but I don’t have the answer. All I know is that it didn’t work.

The quick fix, which was no fix, was for me to email the document to myself along with the attachment to the new email address at the address and then to forward the document to the intended recipient. Of course, before I selected “send” to the new recipient, I had to erase the history that would have been a giveaway that the document was forwarded.

Okay, so maybe I’m becoming proficient in camouflage, because I managed to reach out to all of our membership with what looked like a professionally and well thought out transmittal of needed information. Fortunately, I have a close friend who is at the top of the leader board as an IT Guru. He has sincerely offered his expertise to be of assistance. Trust me, I’ve got his contact information next to dial-a-prayer in my outlook addresses.

Of course the “home office” syndrome is an ever-present threat to finding balance in one’s life. It certainly has been true for me. In order to keep-up on the never-ending flow of email and business needs, I don’t get it done in a day’s work. Actually, that is true for most of the people I know. Okay, so that’s an overstatement. It is true of most of the people I professionally hold in highest regard.

However, the price of admission is probably to one’s detriment. How’s the phrase expressed? Oh, I remember: “All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.” While I don’t think boredom has ever been just around the next corner, I have to confess that a lopsided existence can be the result.

At the end of the day it has to do with boundary issues. That coupled with the notion that if you really like your work, you never work a day in your life becomes one’s reality. The downside is a lopsided existence.

So how am I going to manage this? I’m obviously going to have to manage it from a work/play family perspective. When my parents retired, they set designated times throughout their day for a “break”. You can get so busy being busy that all you do is stay busy. I don’t remember who said it, but it lent to the notion that hurry is of the devil.

Actually, I do remember who said it. John Ortberg captured it in one of his books entitled The Life You’ve Always Wanted. He expressed it like this: “The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is one thing hurried people don’t have”.

Ortberg quoted Lewis Grant’s reference to “sunset fatigue”. Is there any chance you could have it? This is his definition: “When we come home at the end of a day’s work, those who need our love the most, those to whom we are the most committed, end up getting the leftovers. Sunset fatigue is when people are just too tired, or too drained, or too pre-occupied, to love the people to whom we have made the deepest promises”.

My daughter and son-in-law are smart people. They prefer not to mix their work lives with their personal lives and they carve out ample time for both. It has to do with honoring boundaries. Historically, I have not been very adapt at doing that. If I don’t take great care, I could find retirement is just another expression of doing good things at the expense of forfeiting time for better things.

At some level, I have to confess that I want it all. Aren’t most of us like that? The problem is a time problem. Unless you sort it out, life gets lopsided and without balance we become one dimensional rather than well rounded.

Besides that, I don’t like being in a rut. I’d much prefer to be delightfully unpredictable and explore uncharted territory. People time should always take precedent over computer time. How’s that for a life principal that works? Of course, I’m walking on egg-shells here. The General occasionally reads my blog. She may remind me of what I’ve written. Actually, I hope she does. People time should take precedent over computer time.

All My Best!