I’m the boss of me, the slacker


The best thing about the writing life is, of course, the commute — mainly that there isn’t one. I work from home. I can, if I choose, work in my bathrobe.

The only problem with “being my own boss” so to speak is that I have such a close, personal relationship with my employee (also me) that it is difficult, if not downright impossible, to respect myself professionally. As employees go I’m kind of a slacker.

No small task

Today, for example, instead of getting up bright and early and tackling my column for today’s deadline, I cleaned out my 10-year old daughter’s bedroom. I’m not talking a quick “flick and a prayer” with a duster. Oh no. I went under the bed!

Four hours — and two heaping trash bags later — I had a wonderful warm glow and a real sense of accomplishment. What I did not have was a lick of writing done.

Fortunately, I’m far better at reading the paper than writing for it. I had just begun my creative process whereby I hyperventilate over having no ideas and cast about for some real or imagined drama in the lives of my children — or the cat — to inspire a column.

I flipped open the paper to find the answer to my writer’s block staring up at me in black and white: place the blame.

I’m a bad boss

According to a 2005 research study conducted by Hewlett-Packard and the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, I have been badly mismanaging myself. Clearly, I am not an idling ne’er do well. I am a product of my work environment.

It seems that Employee-Me has been severely let down by Manager-Me. As boss, I allow myself to believe that I can multi-task.

Predictably, “I’ll just grab a load of laundry while I think of some new ideas” all too quickly becomes a search and reconnaissance mission to ferret every last sock, stuffed bunny and dust bunny from under my daughter’s bed.

Addicted to distraction

I also allow myself unfettered access to e-mail, the Internet and personal calls. According to the aforementioned study, employees distracted by even one incoming e-mail saw their IQ drop by 10 points. 10 points! This is more than twice the drop found after smoking marijuana! Are they serious?

So each moment I dilly-dally over an urban legend e-mail about the vipers in the ball pit at the local fast food joint, or one of those “please forward this photo of a puppy hugging a kitty to 100 special women in your life to share your love and adoration — or die friendless and alone” chain mails, I suffer the same performance slump as a drug addict without benefit of the munchies to boot?

Still another study reported that workers took nearly one half hour to recover from interruptions such as telephone calls. That explains a lot. If you’ve ever spent even one afternoon at home you have probably been astounded at how many telephone calls you receive in the course of a day.

I’ve begun to have somewhat of a relationship with some of the more persistent auto-dial callers myself. I’m thinking of adding a few of them to my Christmas card list this year.

Through the power of the print media I now have a firm answer to why I sometimes struggle to remain on task while working from home when every day is “casual Friday.”

(Note to self: consider adding a briefcase to basic bathrobe attire).

No more of this slacking off on Facebook or yakking on the telephone or Twitter. No, it’s time I buckle down and take my career seriously around here.

Handbook needed

Clearly, I need to make myself an Employee Handbook. Manager-Me is proposing that all employees (also me) are hereby chained to their desks until columns are filed, all financial statements balance to the penny, and all paperclips are sorted by size and shine.

Employee-Me is thinking more along the lines of “all employees must sleep late, take ample breaks, and the workday terminates immediately upon the call from school to retrieve a sick child, the urge to clean out a closet, and/or a call from any friend at all suggesting we meet for coffee.”

No award yet

The latter, of course, is ample evidence of why Manager-Me hasn’t bothered to purchase Employee-Me that Employee-of-the-Month plaque yet.

On the upside, lacking a commute, the need to award an “Employee of the Month” parking space has been removed from the bargaining table altogether.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt loves her boss. She welcomes comments c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460 or visit her online at http://kymberlyfosterseabolt.blogspot.com.)

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