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Working from home provides different kinds of distractions

March 23, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs
news@thereminder.com

So you’re working from home so you hopefully won’t get sick. Is that your story, cousin?    

For many people that is the dominant story in their lives right now.

The boss has sent the entire Reminder Publishing news staff to their respective domiciles to write from home last week. We “talk” to one another throughout  the day via a group chat that comes on as early as 7:30 a.m. and shuts down as late as 10 p.m. I think the staff is adjusting to this new – and temporary – normal.

What I’ve found is that some things I get done in a quicker fashion, while other things take much longer because my home computer does not have the same programs as the work computer. Some little tasks take longer.

Before I go any farther, I want to say I’m overjoyed the decision was not made to close down the newspaper during this time. I feel very badly for the thousands of people who are now without work.

Certainly in some regards there is less distraction by working at home. I work with an open door to my office at the Reminder Publishing Headquarters for World Domination and I expect quite a number of interruptions each day. It’s part of my gig.

So instead of having one of our sales representatives lecture me on why during leap years the extra day should be in July instead of February  – an ongoing theme of his – there are other things that pull my attention away from the computer screen.

The distractions are still there. They are just different.    

I’m sitting here in my home office and I realize when my gaze rises above the top of the computer screen that I need to dust.

This quickly escalates.

I also see a cobweb or two. I try to make a mental note so when I wrestle myself out of this chair I will remove them.

Then I realize how much painting I should do. I hate painting.

Gazing even innocently around my home office also can some of my attention away from writing. I notice a book I’ve not looked at in years, or wonder if I have time to watch a movie in my growing to-be-watched pile.

Lunch is a big deal for me. What I actually look forward to going to City Jake’s Café in downtown Springfield for a delicious meal and good conversation.

Usually, though, I bring something back to enjoy in front of my computer screen in my mink-lined managing editor’s office. I find the physical break from the office is important to me.

There is really no going out for lunch in the new – and temporary – normal. The idea is to stay within the four walls of my Fortress of Solitude as much as I can.

At least at home I don’t have to eat in front of my computer. I do however have to eat with the cats watching and I have to try to convince them they don’t want part of my banana or some other non-feline food item. They don’t listen well.

I can’t walk in to see the boss, but we have a daily conference call with video capacity. Few people seem to be taking advantage of video feature, so I’ve decided to liven it up with a puppet show or I might wear my Mexican wrestling mask.  Let’s see who is watching.

There are no children for me to watch at home. That’s a plus. My dog is gone so I don’t have to worry about letting him and out. Our cats are curious about why I’m home and one of them, Troi, seems determined to help me.

I’ve found this past week I’m not inclined to shave every day and I wore the same clothes three days in a row. Who’s to know?

For someone whose job is to be at public events and generally out and about, this isolation is disconcerting. It doesn’t feel right.

Health officials say everything we are doing now is necessary to control the virus, which is something we all want. The steps that have been taken have been painful for many Americans. We all have to realize that once COVID-19 passes, we will have a greater task ahead of us of rebuilding the economy.

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