I’ve been working out of my new home office for almost six months, and I thought I’d share some observations about what it’s like.
1. Working alone doesn’t feel lonely when I have solo work to do. Even though I’m a socially oriented person, I love being by myself when I need to read, write, conduct interviews or do other work that is meant to be done alone. I don’t find myself wishing there were someone else nearby with these tasks. Plus, I have Bert.
2. Working alone feels extremely lonely when I’m working with others. I spent a few months still leading a team in a newsroom in another state, and I was faced with all the reasons journalism is a team sport. I missed naturally being able to participate in brainstorming, collaborative editing and the giving and getting of feedback. I also missed getting to know my team in the way that happens when you work side by side but is much harder via video chat. Next time I do significant work as part of a team, I’ll experiment more with how to feel in touch with each other.
3. I don’t work as much as I thought I did. I’m using a tool called Toggl to track my time, and it’s showing me exactly how much of my day is dedicated to completing specific tasks. (UPDATE: I wrote more about Toggl here.) I can surmise from what I’m learning that more of my newsroom workday than I realized was spent NOT completing specific work tasks … in meetings, chatting, surfing. The good news is that now that I work alone, other people don’t care how much I work, and I’m accountable only to myself for my surfing time. The other good news is that when I’ve accomplished what I need to accomplish, I can stop working.
4. I don’t mind interspersing home tasks with work ones. I can run the dog to the groomer, switch a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher without distracting myself from work. I also sometimes go to yoga or get a pedicure in the middle of the day. Except … it’s easy for days to disappear into errands, kids’ dentist appointments and getting an early start on dinner. I need to protect my time to make sure I accomplish what I most need to accomplish.