Working from home may be a new way for some, but how do you deal with distractions? For me, WFH life is status quo, and I’ve developed a tolerance, nay, an immunity to distractions. How many of you have these? How do you handle them?
Distraction 1: Traffic
Fun Facts: Every truck is required, by law, to have squeaky brakes. The older the car is, the less you need a muffler. When you cross a speedbump in a quiet neighbourhood, you must accelerate as hard as possible afterwards. No items in the back of your vehicle or trailer shall be secured. You must play the most obnoxious music as loudly as possible above what your speakers can handle without distorting.
Distraction 2: Birds
Nature has evolved to make sure the squeakiest ones perch directly outside your window during a vital call, start early, and continue late. Since some birds can mimic human noises, I’m waiting for one to fly up to my window and go, “Squawk! You’re on mute! You’re on Mute! Squawk!”
Distraction 3: Flies
You know you’ve been in lockdown too long when you start saying “THE fly” rather than “a fly”. The bugs seem to have a talent for landing where you can’t swat them and hovering where you can’t spray them, like over utensils or food. If you corner them in a room, they seem to always find the open window despite banging against the closed pane for hours beforehand. The minute you go for a snack, they appear but vanish the second you reach for something to swat them with. Maybe insects have developed the ability to teleport.
Distraction 4: Dogs
Ever notice how your own seem to be well behaved, but the neighbour’s dogs are the guardians of the galaxy, defending you from butterflies, shadows, and the wind? I don’t have any pets of my own, but my kindly neighbours have a couple of horses straight out of Jurassic Bark. While they’re quite well behaved (most of the time), it’s the other neighbours and their dust-mops-with-feet that seem to have a fundamental problem with the forces of nature like falling leaves.
Distraction 5: Kids
My other neighbours babysit their grandkid a few days a week, but it doesn’t have tantrums; it has full-blown gigaton nuclear meltdowns that make even Chernobyl go, “whoa”. The kid only has two moods: Unhappy and REALLY unhappy. Every word takes on the vocal inflection of whining and who’d have thought ruining someone’s life is as easy as an incorrect quantity of a specific colour fruit loop in their cereal bowl?
Distraction 6: Endless Meetings
It can be Zoom, WebEx, Teams, or other apps. Regardless of the platform, we spend so much time on camera we should all work on television! We need to have pre-meetings to discuss the next meeting and then a post-meeting to discuss what was discussed at the last meeting. I spend more time talking about doing rather than doing, and because I’m not doing what I’m paid to do because I’m in meetings, I get called into a meeting to discuss what I haven’t been doing. Got it? Good.
Distraction 7: Food
Since COVID happened, the communal snack bowls where everyone digs in their grubby paws to take a handful of whatever tasty treats are long gone. This change is a good thing: Think about how many people you work with that exit the toilet without washing their hands. Visual ruined? OK, good. Seriously, I think working from home has made me develop amnesia because I can’t remember what is in my fridge or cupboard, so I go to check 20 times a day.
Distraction 8: Weather
In storm season, we can get rain at a moment’s notice, so we have to rush around closing windows only to make it too stuffy. When the sun comes back in 30 seconds, we go around opening up everything only to close it all a minute later when it starts to rain again. Will there be hail so I should move my car? Maybe the cushions on the chairs might get wet. Better check the radar online. What’s the temperature again?
Distraction 9: Housework
How exactly did we keep our homes clean when we were away 40+ hours a week not including commuting time? Did we live in absolute squalor, or were we just more efficient? Better unload/load the dishwasher. There is dust on the floor. The laundry is piling up. Something needs fixing. Better call the carpet cleaner. When did I water the plants? What is that mark on the counter?
Distraction 10: Other People
No matter what you want to do, what someone else wants you to do is always more important. Can you send me that report? I need you to look at this. The (random appliance) isn’t working again. Dad, can you fix my (random item that has been broken for weeks but is only now a priority). Mum, can you make me (random food item request despite only having eaten an hour ago and emptying an entire box of biscuits). Similar to a meeting, but with more pressure and guilt applied.
Put on your headphones, take a deep breath and smile. You can’t beat the commute, the coffee is cheap, and you don’t have to scrounge for loose change for the vending machine when leftovers are available.
Stay safe out there!