From Where I Sit – Gotta Reconcile This

When I don’t celebrate a statutory holiday like Canada Day or Boxing Day I feel vaguely cheated. When I don’t have big plans for the May (or any other) long weekend I feel disappointed.

It’s one thing not to have elaborate plans for rest and relaxation; that can be forgiven. It’s quite another to always find yourself working. That reality needs my attention.

As a self-employed person who earns her income from taking on odd or contract positions, and I know I’m different from the average 9 to 5 office drone or career professional. And every day I’m grateful for that fact. I don’t punch a clock, answer to a supervisor, or have to book my two or three weeks of vacation months in advance.

This square peg doesn’t fit the standard round hole. I’ve come to accept and celebrate that realization. My way is no better or worse than what you may have chosen, but it is the only way I can thrive.

Ever since technology made it possible for some to work from home all sorts of people have studied the phenomenon. Lifestyle magazines, sociologists, cartoonists, stand-up comics, medical experts, and others have an opinion on whether or not this is a good thing.

And, like with most things under the sun, there is no one right answer. On the plus side the home office concept allows flexibility in the work day/week; saves money on fuel, lunches, and wardrobes; saves the company paying employee benefits; and gives the worker control over their day. On the downside, the over-zealous (pick me) drone keeps working longer than reasonable or healthy because, like most things under the sun, the job is never truly done. There is always one more call to make, one more email to send, one more file to update, one more innovation to research. From the employer perspective if they’ve contracted an undisciplined or unethical lightweight, they may see missed deadlines or incomplete projects coming from the homebound worker.

Working from home requires incredible discipline, strong time management skills, reliability, and pride of accomplishment. Having a routine start and end time and laser-like focus would serve both boss and employee well. Work would get done without abusing the worker’s rights. Being able to power off the computer and close the door on unfinished work would save the life and marriage of people like me. I honestly don’t think this could work with children at home regardless of their ages.

In this I talk the talk but am stumbling with the walk. Maybe I’m being overly harsh with myself; it’s been known to happen. I have refused to check email (even on my phone) in the late evening. I have stayed strong on the odd Sunday. Yet, if the need arises, because of irresistible opportunity or impending deadline, I err on the side of working. I don’t know that it’s recognized or appreciated or making a huge difference. I’ve gotta reconcile this. Apparently martyrdom doesn’t pay, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..