Monday, June 26, 2017

Time Management Tuesday: Office Versus Home

So, I've written here several times about writers who work at home, and the time problems we face because we' home. At home, no one is imposing structure on us with work hours and lunch and coffee breaks. At an office, there is no laundry to do, no telephone calls coming in from relatives. There's no diverting work time into tasks like vacuuming and mopping because there's a cleaning crew to do that, right? You're not working surrounded with piles of clothes, boxes, books, toys, old magazines. The guilt you feel stopping work at the office to read on-line about what's going on with Prince Harry and Meghan What's-Her-Name is different than the guilt you feel stopping to read about them at home.

If there was some way that writers could work in an office with a supervisor who made sure they had nothing to do but lean into it, wouldn't we all crank out masses of work?

Well, today I had a chance to put in a couple of hours in a real office. As you can see from the accompanying pictures, as far as order is concerned, it wasn't much of an improvement over working at home. It's just that the stuff heaped around me wasn't my responsibility, which was nice for a change.

I did feel that I was staying on task better than I do at home. I finished preparing a submission, and if we'd stayed longer, I would have had a good shot at getting a synopsis done. Why?

   I think the difference is that there were other people working in the building. I don't mean they were working with me. One person was in the office across from me, and three were upstairs. I don't mean I was being encouraged and supported by my fellow writers, either. We're talking an office manager, an engineer, and two surveyors. I'm not even talking some kind of social interaction thing. I ate lunch at my desk. And I wasn't surfing the 'net the way I often do when I eat lunch at my desk at home.

No, I think it was just the fact that there were other people nearby working, by themselves, that did the trick for me.

This actually makes sense when you remember that Kelly McGonigal says in The Willpower Instinct that willpower successes (and failures) are contagious. We like to conform to what we feel is the norm. In an office where others are working, it's normal to work. When we're alone in our houses, we don't have a social group of worker bees to create a norm for us to conform to.

So working in a traditional office may be beneficial in terms of getting us to manage our time efficiently not because of the structure we can hope to find there, or the boss breathing down our necks but because of the other people working there. How can writers who work alone duplicate that experience?

No comments: