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Working From Home in the Age of Covid-19

Like everyone else right now, I am working from home.

And I’ve been reading a lot from people who have never worked from home before, never mind worked from home while sorting out children’s schooling.

And I’ve seen a lot of ‘treat it like a regular day’ sort of posts. There is no way of treating lock down like a regular day is going to work for anyone with or without children at home.

Sure, you can get up at your usual time, wash, put on makeup/shave, and dress in ‘work’ clothes. But you can’t do the school/daycare run. You can’t stop and have a chat with the barista at the coffee place. You can’t even chat in the break room with your coworkers about last night’s TV watching!

And those are the things that mean you don’t actually work the whole time you’re at work. Let’s say you work 8 hours a day. You have an hour for lunch, so you need to fill seven hours.

I have never met anyone who works seven hours straight. No matter how busy or important they are.

For one thing, I’ve never been in a meeting in my nearly 40-year career that didn’t start with at least 10 minutes of bullshit. How is everyone? Did everyone see Jim do that thing in the break room? ::laughter:: Anyone going to The Who concert on Friday? Bill, did I hear you’re off to Milan for your holiday? Etc etc etc.

And I’ve been at meetings with people from my fellow Admins all the way up to Chief Executives and Chairmen

of the Board. There’s always chat. In fact, back when I was pregnant and working at The Northern Ireland Science Park (now Catalyst) I had to pop into a high-level meeting to bring our CEO some papers. I was just going to sneak in, give them to him, and sneak back out. Ninja is actually in the Personal Assistant job description.

PA Ninja!!

But I was stopped by one of the people in the meeting, a member of one of the governing bodies of The Science Park, who interrupted the head of her department to ask me when I was due and how I was feeling!! NB: she’s also the one who I had on the phone a few weeks before who asked me ‘Did I hear that you are with child?’ which was definitely the quaintest way anyone asked me that question!

Even if you don’t have any meetings during your day, you are spending some part of your day chatting with your co-workers. In my current office and desk location there is probably at least an half an hour a day of golfing talk. Maybe a half an hour of children talk. Sometimes longer of TV show talk. So that’s what? One and a half hours right there? It may not be that length of time in a row since a phone will ring, someone will get an urgent email, or someone will come over to see one of us. But it’s easily that long over the course of the day. So now there’s only 5.5 hours of actual work being done.

Even when I was an hourly worker at Target I wasn’t working every minute of my shift. People would stop to chat with me, I’d stop to chat with people. I’d take at least five minutes of every hour to just sort of stare into space!

Of course, the real issue is company expectations. During normal times, companies absolutely should have the expectation that if you are working from home you don’t have children to care for. But reasonable ones still don’t think you are going to sit at your computer for eight total hours. That way lies madness.

The emails that my company sent out when they announced WFH for all said something like ‘you are expected to be available and working during your normal working hours.’ “Available and working”. I, personally, take that to mean ready to jump if someone needs me but if my kid needs me, he comes first. But remember, I’m an office manager, who currently has no office to manage. So it’s actually pretty easy for me to keep an eye on email/Teams while I am doing other things as I have access to them on my phone, my iPad and a computer.

When things are normal I never have notifications on for either of my devices, unless I’m going to be away from my desk for a long stretch sorting something out, then I turn on notifications for Outlook and Teams on my phone.

While my whole office is WFH I have notifications on 24/7. I rarely get anything on either but it was a good thing they were on when one of the office’s computers stopped working completely and IT couldn’t do anything remotely so they pinged me and asked me to go to the office and reboot the machine. On a day I had taken off. Which was absolutely fine. It’s why my notifications were on. I am only one of five people who have complete access to the office when it’s locked and the alarm is set. And I’m only one of three people who have access to get into the office and access to our comms room.

During that same trip to the office I looked over our servers and found one on the edge of collapse (there’s lights on them that indicate status; I am not a server whisperer) so I reported that to our server team and went back the next day to replace the server.

I need to be available right now. So I am.

But I am also helping Adam with school work, keeping the house in some sort of order (oh man do I miss my cleaner!) and doing all of the other things I do when I’m at home. With, of course, help from Simon who is also working from home for the duration.

So what’s my point? My point is that you are not superman. Or woman. Or kid. You’re just you. And you can’t do it all.

So stop trying. Do your best.

And stay inside.

And wash your hands.

And don’t touch your face.

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The Winter of My Disconnect…(Too good to pass up. Sorry. Not sorry.)

About two months ago I suddenly realized I had no idea what I’d been doing all winter. I mean, my son was alive and happy, my husband likewise, and there were a few knitting bits around. But I remembered very little of it. I had been black in the Land Of The Black Dog and didn’t even realize it.

It had, indeed, been the winter of my disconnect. I can remember days, weeks even, of seeming to be looking out of my own eyes. Of being someone else inside me, watching me go through my life.

When I finally ‘confessed’ to Simon, he said he knew something was wrong. That I had spent whole weekends in bed, asleep. He didn’t say anything because he knows me and knows I would deny it, even bury it, until I was ready to say ‘It’s bad again.’

So I saw a GP at our practice and we switched me to a new medicine that worked for a bit. And then didn’t. And then I saw another GP and actually had an anxiety attack right in front of him and he switched me again. This time to Venlafaxine. Which has not only helped my anxiety, it’s helped my fibro.

To the point that I am nearly pain free. I am still tired a lot and my brain is constantly leaking out of my ears, but I can deal with that so long as I’m not in pain!

I mean, I still have pain. I’m not cured or anything. But I am so much better.

So…what have I been doing?


Yup, I launched my shop. And immediately had two custom orders with a third happening soon.

I also sold one item from the shop directly.

I’ve also been doing this:

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First bobbin! #sewing

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Yes. That’s a sewing machine. I’ve got the two Great British Sewing Bee books and I’ve started sewing from a pattern. My first shirt is nearly done and I am so chuffed with myself!

So I am feeling more connected to my life and my husband and my son and my craft. I’m imagining studio space through out my house as the dining room table is a bit inconvenient.

And, as the icing on the cake? In one week from tomorrow? I’ll be in Berkeley loving on my first two babies.

I may acknowledge their parents and my parents as well. 😀

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Not Resolutions. Goals.

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, because I never keep them. Does anyone?

And then I read this post on A Cup Of Lee and it resonated.

To be completely honest, as I like to be here on my blog, Leanne isn’t just a blogger I follow. She’s a friend and Adam’s best mate’s mum.

She’s also the one who walked up to me at the pre-school line up and said ‘Are you Tee?’ My first stalker. 😀

Anyway, I love her blog, both because she writes well and because I don’t know a lot about PR so I find what she does really fascinating. It’s a job I probably would have like to do myself, but my career took me other directions.

Oh, she’s also a client!

Anyway, I like the idea of making business goals, rather than personal resolutions and I really like the idea of posting them here on the ‘net. Accountability is a good thing!

So I opened my Wunderlist (which I highly recommend if you need a list/goal/note app) and added a new section called ‘Goals’.

And I started a list called DTAT Goals 2015:

  1. Blog at least once a week
  2. Redesign the DTAT web site
  3. Launch the Etsy shop
  4. Work on my novel

All four of those have a completion date of 31 December 2015. Lots of room to get them done.

Unlike Leanne, I do have one personal goal:

  1. Earn driving license

That has a completion date of 1 June 2015, because I really want to have my license before we go to California next summer. And I have my second lesson tomorrow. 😀

So hopefully you’ll see more from me here at Tee’s Blog.

And more from Designed To A Tee.

And you may want to pull over if you see an Abba Driving instructor in and around South Belfast.

That could be me behind the wheel. 😀

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Nobody Gets My Humour

for the second time in just about a month someone has taken something I have said as a joke as serious. Both times the person became angry with me. One of them happened face to face and I apologized right away and we worked it out. The other one was through email and the apology I sent has not been acknowledged so I have no idea what’s happening with that.

The thing is, I know I can have an odd sense of humour and I am very careful to not crack wise with people who don’t know me. Not until we’ve had a few interactions and I know they get it when I am joking.

Which is what makes both of these instances odd. Because these are both people I have made the same sort of jokes with previously and they have joked right back. Until these two times.

One of the people I have worked with for, literally, years. The other one just a few months, but we have certainly joked around together.

So I just don’t get it. Did I hit too close to home both times? Get them both on bad days?

Or maybe it’s just time for me to find that deserted island and take only people I actually can stand to be around for more than a few hours with me. The island would have a population of about 10.

Sounds perfect.

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The House Is Falling To Bits

As I sit here sipping sugary tea and nibbling (mostly) dry toast, it is day 8 of the hell that began last Thursday night with our trip to A&E with Adam puking blood.

It continued with Simon throwing up on Sunday and Adam cranky and pulling his ear.

It went further on Wednesday with Adam back at nursery but me at my biggest clients for meetings all day.

And then yesterday I woke up feeling achy and tired and with a headache. Simon had to go to work for Open Days, when the 6th Formers (7th years? What are they called now?!) come to see the University. So I was at home with an active 2 year old and find myself vomiting. Things compounded when said 2 year old was just falling asleep after lunch and I had to basically throw him into bed to go puke. Yeah. He didn’t sleep. Luckily Simon got home by 230 and I headed to bed. And spent the evening and part of the night throwing up.

And so the house is falling to bits.

You see, I have a schedule for cleaning. I hate cleaning, as most people do, so if I don’t put it into my phone with a reminder and a day to do it, it won’t get done. Or it will get done only on weekends which leaves no family time.

So I set a schedule. This past Monday I was suppose to clean the bathrooms, for example. Adam was home from nursery and, as I recall, napped for about 10 minutes, so that didn’t happen.

Wednesday I was suppose to change the beds, catch up on my laundry folding and hoover the bedrooms and hallway. I was at my client site all day.

Today, Friday, I should be running (toddler free!) errands and tidying and hoovering the front rooms and finishing laundry.

Instead, I’m sipping sweet tea, eating (mostly) dry toast and am about to head back to bed.

So the bathrooms need a wipe. The floors need a hoover.  And you can’t get into the spare bedroom for all the clothes piled up to be folded. We are almost out of nappies, I need to put 2 cheques into the bank, my finally repaired jeans need to be picked up from the tailor, we are nearly out of juice and milk. It’s Friday night so pudding and wine need to be bought.

Instead, I’m sipping sweet tea, eating (mostly) dry toast and am about to head back to bed.

Adam threw a major strop about going to nursery, I imagine because he basically didn’t see me from about 230 yesterday until 730 this morning and this whole week has been weird. So he’s been promised a trip to the museum on Sunday; a cross my heart, pinky swear, high five promise that I wouldn’t go back on if you held a gun to my head.

Oh and I think I have some emails to send for my biggest client.

So the house is falling to bits and I really should do something about some of this stuff.

Instead, I’m sipping sweet tea, eating (mostly) dry toast and am about to head back to bed.

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“If You Don’t Know What Work To Do, Do the Work That’s In Front Of You.”

The title of this post was said by an American President. I am just not sure which one. It might have been Hoover. I’ve tried look it up on the ‘net but I am not getting anywhere. I know I read it in a Cook’s Illustrated Magazine but I am not sure what issue. If anyone knows who said, do please put it in the comments.

Anyway, whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by life, which happens quite a lot with a toddler, a company and house to run and constant aches and fatigue, I pull that quote into my brain and look around. And I find the thing in front of me that a) most needs doing and b) I have the spoons for.

Today it was folding the laundry mountain. My laundry mountain comes out of the fact that I have combination washer/dryer and the dryer takes, literally, hours to dry things. So if I put a load on in the morning, it might be dry by lunch. But it might not. So then I have to wait to fold it. I know a lot of people will do things like that after their child is in bed. I am not a lot of people. By the time Adam is in bed my spoons are gone.

Now, this was a particularly high laundry mountain. You see, in the last 14 days I have taken 2 days to be ill. One day with a migraine and one day with just general” OMG I hurt”. And those 2 days off put me about a week behind. Due to my fibro I can’t really count on being able to do a lot all at once, so I do it in small bits. I “do the work that’s in front of me”. And doing nothing for 2 days really got things piling up.

So today the thing in front of me was the laundry.

Tomorrow it will be work I am paid for and (hopefully) some work on the marketing I am trying to get together for the company.

After taking Adam to nursery and having a cuppa at my favourite coffee shop.

Also, remember this?

After a boil with a dishwasher tab, a scrub with bicarb, a boil with bicarb and another scrub it now looks like this:

So I live in hope.

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Trying To Find My Mojo

So I went to a seminar on Thursday about Online Marketing. I mostly went to support my friend Cathie, who owns and operates Pulse Online Productions. She and I used to work together at The Northern Ireland Science Park. We’ve both moved on now and started our own companies but we keep in touch.

I was only marginally interested in the topic as I haven’t really been marketing Designed To A Tee due to lack of time and because I thought I was going to have another client soon. But I went.

And I loved it. I loved being in a room with people who are interested in some of the same things I am. I met a few interesting people. And I got some ideas for increasing the marketing for DTAT.

One idea was a DTAT Twitter. You can follow that @DTATTweets. I am also going to be launching another blog, to talk about design, digital media and things like that.

So watch this space. Big things are coming.

Time to get my mojo back.

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So, Do I Have Any New Years Resolutions?

Not really.

I mean, I have plans and goals for 2011 but I wouldn’t call them resolutions.

I want us to move to a house, probably rented but buying is not off the table right now.

I would like at least one more client for a few hours a week or to create a website for someone from scratch.

And that’s about it, really.

It’s been a good year, just past.  With Simon getting a great job advancement and my company doing fairly well.

So I don’t really have any resolutions.

And one wish…for an entire month, just one month, of no illness for Adam. 🙂

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Oh Right. I Have A Blog

Apologies to everyone who checks regularly to see if I’ve updated.  (in other words, Hi Mom!)

I’ve been incredibly busy with work stuff and a boy who walks and doesn’t want to do anything else and baby proofing more and all that boring life stuff.

This coming Monday, 1st November, Adam starts all day daycare on Mondays, so I’ll have some extra time.

I do have a blog post about my trip to Dublin.  It’s just in a notebook.  In my sloppy handwriting.

But I promise it is coming.

Along with a special post about a special person who is going to kill me for writing it.

Speaking of him, he’s just accepted a job as a Teaching Fellow.  We’ve all been walking 3 feet in the air.

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What a Difference

a good nights sleep followed by a 2 hour nap after being awake for a few hours can make.  I am think of taking a second nap in a bit.

And this is why I am counting the seconds until maternity leave.  Having a newborn is tiring enough without going into it with weeks and weeks (or in my case, months that go back to before I was pregnant) of bad sleep behind you.

4 more days of work and I am off.  And then I planning on taking my mornings to get things done and my afternoons to rest.

Or vice versa. 🙂

Baby is being very active.  And kicked really hard when its daddy sang silly songs to it yesterday! Simon liked that.

Also having some Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Which don’t hurt, but are kind of distracting and annoying.  Nothing like your entire stomach going rock hard to break your concentration!

And speaking of concentration…somehow managed to send the Board last September’s report rather than the one for May. Um…ooops?  And no one will let me forget it, of course.