Thursday, June 4, 2015

Hello, all.

I thought I'd take a break from my glamorous job as a writer to say hi. Oh, what am I wearing as a glamorous writer? you ask. Ha ha. I don't like to brag, but I'm wearing my writing costume. Picture this: comfortable old t-shirt, denim jeans, and no makeup. I'm not even sure I managed a shower this morning, but I am wearing a bra, so that's good. Let me tell you that I look pretty darn stunning.

In this photo, I am actually wearing some makeup, but note that the writing costume is intact. Elannah wanted to see if my hair is long enough yet to do a French braid. (Answer: only for about 10 minutes before it falls out. I like layers.)

My manager and I were lamenting about this problem during one of our phone meetings. On the one hand, working from home means never having to stress about business attire and wardrobe flexibility. On the other hand, yikes. It isn't that I don't want to look nice and wear deodorant; the problem lies more with the fact that I still haven't figured out my priorities.

As any working-from-home mother knows, there are plenty of competing needs, almost all of which seem to be urgent and important: personal hygiene vs. eating breakfast vs. personal scripture study vs. making sure the kids are fed vs. meeting work deadlines vs. cooking something nutritious at least once per day for the welfare of my family vs. keeping the boys entertained vs. kicking kids out of my office because I just have to concentrate vs. listening to them talk vs. getting after the kids to do their chores vs. wanting to lock my door and watch movies all day vs. the yard. Oh, the yard. It has almost as many needs as the children.

As this is not a problem unique to myself, I won't belabor the point. You don't have to be working from home as a parent to wonder how to order your priorities, but thanks for listening to me vent for just a moment.

BUT, I do have an office now! With all these kids, every bedroom in this house is taken, including the family room. I hated having the office be in my bedroom because it was like I never left the room, and when I went to bed at night, my work was still there, staring me in the face. Shudder.

So Husband and I came up with a clever solution: an office alcove.

We have a large master bedroom. It's the same size as the double garage directly beneath it, so there was plenty of room to create an office alcove and still have a decently sized bedroom area. I sold Husband on the idea (excited hand gestures and animated talking points) and he made it happen with some research and a trip to IKEA. Here is a picture of our office alcove with Little Gary hanging out and reading a book. I'm standing in the doorway of the room to take the photo.

First, we bought three Billy bookcases. Then, after a trip to the As-Is section, we scored an orphan countertop for about $10. It's a little over five feet long, so it's perfect for two people to work at. IKEA sells table legs, so Husband attached six legs to the countertop and voila! we had a new desk, which we set against the wall by the entry into the bedroom.

The tricky part was getting the inexpensive and cheaply made Billy bookcases to be stable enough to act as a barrier wall. We played with various options, but Husband eventually rigged up a very nice system: he used sturdy metal brackets to attach the bookcases to each other at the top. A wooden bench I had been planning to repaint ended up getting its seat repurposed into a footer that attached the base of the bookcases to the base of the wooden headboard of our bed, which is now directly on the other side of the bookcase wall. Now the bookcases are attached to each other and to the headboard, which makes it a very stable partition that doesn't threaten to fall over at the slightest bump (we also loaded our books onto the bottom shelves first to further stabilize the bookcases).

There is a doorway opening on either side of the partition wall, so we can comfortably enter the bedroom to either side of the bed. I will be buying some fabric to attach to the back side of the bookcases, which are somewhat unsightly.

Now I don't have to see my work when I am going to sleep or reading in bed. Also, I can get up and work early without disturbing Husband (which, okay, never happens because I chronically stay up too late, but the option is there if I ever magically change into a morning person).

In my next post, I'll ruminate on how to get my manager on board with the Results-Only work system that the CEO and president of the company fully embrace and endorse. K, my manager, has been working in the industry for nearly 20 years--mostly in corporate settings--so she's still kind of stuck on a traditional work day. I, on the other hand, have only worked in the industry as a contractor until now, which means that I'm very comfortable with setting my own hours and only worrying about delivering quality work on time, not clocking how long I have my behind in my chair or that I'm sitting in it during traditional work hours. If you're interested in learning more about Results-Only environments, read Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: the Results-Only Revolution by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. I've also recently read Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by Jeff Sutherland. That is your homework, if you're at all interested in reading that kind of thing (personally, I really want to go and play the piano right now. I'm kind of done with words).