Thursday, April 13, 2006

Work at home day

I try to keep one day a week completely free of meetings and such so that I have the option of either working at home, or shutting myself in my office all day with minimal interruptions (yeah, right, dream on). Note that "try" is the operative word here. But today I was lucky--no meetings, no commitments, no need to be anywhere on campus--and so I worked at home.

My work at home days follow a routine, although this is not intentional. I start by sleeping in just a little bit later. Usually this is because I was up later the night before, because hey, I don't have to go in to campus the next day! When I do get up, I put on sweats, head to the kitchen, whip up some breakfast and coffee, and eat/caffeinate while checking email and blogs. (I only do this on work-at-home days because I try not to check my email before heading to campus on regular days.) After that, I make up a to-do list (because otherwise, I won't get *anything* done) and dive in.

I'm usually my most productive in the mornings---this is generally true, but very pronounced when working at home. So I work pretty much non-stop (with the occasional email break) and on the most difficult/mentally taxing stuff until lunch. I do this because I know that my attention span will wane in the afternoon.

Lunchtime means cooking and bad TV. Since I love to cook, this is a little way of rewarding myself for being productive in the morning. It's a nice change from eating in front of my computer, which is what lunchtime usually looks like when I'm on campus.

After lunch, I work on the less-taxing tasks, or I go run errands since I know that my productivity is limited anyway. I never get as much done in the afternoons, but I'm usually able to continue some of the momentum from the morning. If the weather's nice, I'll try to sneak out for a run or a walk in the late afternoon.

The only issue with working at home is that I tend to work longer into the evening as well. Mainly this is because my to-do lists are often a bit too ambitious, and I feel like I have to work a few extra hours to get those tasks done. Plus, now that my office is all nice and organized, I actually want to spend time in there!

I've been thinking about this work-at-home routine lately because I have a sabbatical coming up next year, during which I'll be working mainly at home. Will my routine be the same then? Or will I envision a different routine for myself, because working at home will be the norm and not the exception? It should be interesting to figure this all out.


sb said...

A sabbatical at home? I'm not from the U.S., so I might be ignorant of local customs, but this sounds strange to me. From what I've seen, the idea is to spend time in a different environment (other university, department, industry, country even) and to work and network with other people, not just to be exempt from teaching and local university committees. I don't know your circumstances, though.

Addy N. said...

Hi Jane! I just found your blog today & had to reply to the previous comment. I am currently on what we call an "assigned research appointment" (ARA) which is a one-semester zero teaching load. We get one of these before going up for tenure. I have spent most of the semester at home, although I have taken advantage of the time to write two proposals, present at two conferences, and hopefully finish some manuscripts. Your work-at-home routine sounds good to me! Mine can be similar, but there is also taking my daughter to school (and picking her up) thrown in there. The days that my husband is on campus and I'm home tend to be more productive, too! The traveling I've been doing has thrown me off schedule a bit, so I am not in much of a routine at the moment.

About the at-home versus away issue: we also have off campus ARAs, which allow you to also skip committee work and faculty meetings. The whole point of the ARA is to have time to focus on your research instead of teaching. Whether that involves physically leaving to do research elsewhere or spending time working at home, depends on the individual's research agenda.

I look forward to reading more of your blog soon! Take care.

sb: Maybe that answers your question a bit?

Jane said...

Welcome, sb and adenostoma! And thanks for the explanation, adenostoma--that is in fact similar to what I'll be doing next year. sb, I could have found somewhere to visit for my sabbatical, but I'm in the middle of this project that I can work on mostly independently. And the great thing about my field is that you can collaborate with others without physically being in the same place as them. (But I probably will try to get to some conferences that I normally can't make it to, and do some other work-related travel that's hard to do when I'm teaching.)

Ernest Kent said...

This was good reading. Thank you for this. I love working from home