Why working from home is like a chocolate brownie

Working from home is kinda like a chocolate brownie.

It’s great when you do it sparingly, but do it too frequently and the enjoyment begins to waver. It becomes less delicious, less enjoyable and downright weird. “Really? Are you sure you need another brownie?”

Speaking from experience, I recently worked five days from home in a row and things got strange. At some point during that week, I think it was deep into day three, I decided to document my ‘standard’ morning from home. I’m not even sure why I did it. I guess I just thought it might be amusing. So here it is. I even broke it up into phases for your reading pleasure (I know, right, I’m almost too thoughtful). 

Getting ready for work

In my head work doesn’t really ‘start’ until I’ve busted out the laptop and decided it’s time. In reality work ‘starts’ when I sit down for breakfast in my undersized Qantas PJ’s and reach for my phone. Subconsciously I’ll start flicking through my calendar, email and Slack apps without even realising until my breakfast is gone and that moment of “wait, how did I get here and have my PJ’s shrunk again?” arises.

Now it’s time to dust myself off and get ready for a shower. I can’t start work until I’ve had a shower, after all. I may have forgotten what day it is, but I’m not an animal. Nothing to see here, just your regular shower routine (only the shower head is positioned as high as humanly possible to allow room for my head to get wet).

I finish in the shower and realise my bathroom is actually quite messy. Still in my towel, I spend the next 10 minutes putting things away, spray and wiping the benches and generally cleaning up. I then brush my teeth and go to leave the bathroom before realising it’s been awhile since I flossed my teeth. Reaching deep into the bottom drawer I dig out the floss my dentist gave me 18 months ago and begin the process of making my gums bleed. Oh, the joy. After rinsing the blood out of my mouth for a 6th time I’m feeling pretty good about myself. Today is going to be a good day. I flossed my teeth for crying out loud. I’m not in the least bit concerned with time because, well, I don’t have to commute anywhere today.

I take care to pick a nice clean black tee in case I have any video calls, but then haphazardly throw on my favourite comfortable (read: well worn) shorts and head downstairs to ‘start working’.

‘Starting’ work

I setup my laptop and decide I’ll probably need a glass of water for all this work I’m about to do. I mean, things are likely to get pretty thirst quenching. I reach for the largest glass I can see and realise the dishwasher hasn’t been unpacked. Naturally, I spend the next 10 minutes carefully unpacking the dishes into their rightful place. Now, what was I doing again? Oh yeah, the water.

Big glass in hand, I sit down to work, open my laptop and then look over to towards the lounge room. Is that couch crooked? I better go straighten it. In fact, I wonder what the room would look like if I moved the couch altogether and flipped the entire room around? Change is as good as a holiday right? 20 minutes later, I sit down, much happier with the way things are looking. Feng shui.

Right, now, time to get busy. But first, a quick stretch…

The vortex

After 30 minutes of stretching, I’m feeling limber and the domestic duties are complete. I’m now ready to dial in. It takes 20 minutes of fumbling around emails and to do lists but eventually I find my groove and I’m in the zone. My fingers are gliding across the keyboard faster than I knew possible, I’ve got 17 tabs open in my browser and I’m keeping track of all of them like some kind of Google Chrome wizard.

I’m in the vortex.

My inbox goes from 87 unread emails to empty, I’ve punched out 4 proposals and had 6 phone calls with various partners and colleagues. I’m doing what Cal Newport calls ‘deep work’.

Eventually, my concentration wanes, my stomach rumbles and I realise I resemble the hunchback of Notre Dame. I see the time and realise it’s been 4 hours since I unpacked the dishwasher and sat down to work. I’m dazed and confused. Where did the time go? What day is it? What’s my name?

I take a break, eat some lunch and shake it out. Just as I sit down to get back to work, I look towards the lounge room and think to myself: I think it looked better with the couch the other way round…

NB: For any past, current or future employers reading this please note this story has been exaggerated for amusement only. I am an upstanding citizen who is always productive when working from home. I’ve definitely never sat down to watch ‘one’ episode of Seinfeld in my lunch break and accidentally ended up watching five.

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