From Where I Sit – Art Imitating Life

Futurists predicted that through the miracle of technology we’d all be working at home. Bypassing the often-brutal commute, upping productivity, and bringing back a semblance of home life were the promises.

Brian Basset’s Adam@Home cartoon strip has been chronicling the highs and lows of this work-from-home dad since his own layoff from a job as an editorial cartoonist in 1994. Art imitating life?

Faithful readers know Adam spends as much time at the coffee shop, copy centre, and on the couch as he does tethered to his computer or actually being dad to his kids.

Both Adam and I know one of the best things about working from home is the freedom it affords. We can set our own hours as long as we remember regular business hours still rule the world. He can wear pyjamas and I can wear a nightgown ?til noon if we’re so inclined. At least I don’t have to worry about the courier ever showing up at my rural home.

Depending on the day, we also share the dishevelled look. I don’t know if Adam suffers from insomnia but I know It’s making my life hell.

One of the mixed blessings of working at home is the seductive pull of distractions. Adam is a coffee/Internet café freak. That doesn’t turn my crank. Both of us are forced to summon the discipline to ignore the dirty dishes, hamper full of laundry, and dust bunny reproduction taking place in corners and crevices. It takes strength to say no to tagging along with hubby on a day of Edmonton errands, and most times I don’t.

Likewise, Adam buckles under the pressure from his kids. Sometimes we both just need to talk to someone. Anyone.

By far, the biggest distraction I face when I’m home alone is the TV. Most days It’s on for hours, providing background noise while I read, write, do paperwork, housework, or exercise. For Adam It’s the lure of the couch.

Much as I’ve cursed the technology, I’ve also grown to rely on Internet and email to make things happen faster, easier. Working at home would not be possible without it.

Emailing my column to an editor is as easy as a few keystrokes. Googling any topic under the sun has broadened the scope of research and shrank the world.

Adam brings grins and nods of recognition to anyone who’s lived this life. All kidding aside, it takes a great deal of discipline to make this work. Fighting the distractions is huge. Following self-imposed deadlines is crucial. Setting limits on breaks and capitalizing on your own peak performance time, whether it’s 6:30 a.m. or 10:30 p.m., brings structure to the day. Goal setting each day keeps deadlines from blurring from one day to the next, one week to the next. And let’s not forget rewards and recognition for especially productive days or the completion of big projects. That’s the least the boss can do, from where I sit.

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