Monday, June 22, 2015

Don't Call Me, I'll Call You

A week or so ago, a friend of mine drew some heat on Facebook for a post about people ringing her doorbell in the middle of the day. Like me, she works from home, and is frustrated by interruptions, especially those that come from uninvited strangers. In addition, she's legitimately concerned about opening the door to someone she doesn't know.
Yeah. I don't look like this.
(Photo credit:
As someone who works from home, I immediately identified with her post, but instead of considering the dangers of opening the door to total strangers, I leapt immediately to wardrobe concerns. On days that I don't have morning appointments, I'm likely to stay in my pajamas (or a similar substitute) well into the day. And we won't even discuss the accompanying issues with hair and makeup.

If I have work to accomplish -- especially work that requires an expenditure of creative energy -- the early I tackle it, the better. Anything I do between getting out of bed and getting started on the task-at-hand is merely an obstacle. And a succession of obstacles -- not surprisingly -- leads me on another journey altogether. The more obstacles I have to contend with, the less likely I am to get back to the path I'm supposed to be on, and the more energy I have to expend doing battle with demons like procrastination.

For me, getting up, showered and dressed first thing in the morning is like getting off the interstate one exit before my destination. Sure, I can still get where I'm going, but it takes longer, I'm likely to get distracted along the way and when I arrive, I have less energy to accomplish what I set out to do in the first place. And that's just not a smart way to work.

Like my friend, when I'm immersed in an important task, I don't accept interruptions. I don't answer my door or my house phone or even my cell phone unless I've checked caller ID to make sure the caller is interruption-worthy. I may be home, but I'm also at work, and if I wouldn't accept the call at a place of business, I should feel free to let it go to voice mail when I'm working at home.

It was interesting to read the comments my friend received in response to her post. In addition to single women, women home alone during the day and work-at-home folks of both genders, stay-at-home parents weighed in on the disruption of a ringing doorbell timed just when a child has gone down for a nap. Third-shift workers shared their frustration of trying to sleep when the rest of the world was awake. And a few people were offended that there are those of us who opt not to respond to them at the precise moment they wish to make contact.

Photo: randy_burden via Morguefile
So, let me just say this. If I don't answer your call or respond to your ringing of my doorbell during the day, please don't be offended. It has little to do with the importance of our relationship and everything to do with the fact that I'm working, and that the elusive little thought trains sometimes depart for destinations unknown when they're steered off course by an interruption. Sometimes, even a text chime is enough to re-route the whole kit, caboodle (and its little caboose, too).

Or maybe I'm in the shower.

Either way, if you leave a message, I'll call you back.


  1. I can definitely relate! Though I'm usually up by 7:00, you might find me in my pajamas as late as 10:00. Thanks for sharing this and making me feel a little more normal. ��

  2. I hear you. Summer is kicking my butt. Already. I need to make a plan today and take control of that. But my best work time is between 6 and 9 AM. During the school year I can't use that time to work because I'm getting people out the door. In summer I can. And should. There are things I can accomplish later in the day, even with a Teenage Invasion going on, but I'd work a lot smarter if I get certain tasks done very early in the morning. (Today's project for after the work is done: map out best time of day for different things and make a workable plan for weekdays).

  3. This also begs another question: do work-at-home types work in PJs or sweats, or do they dress for the job? Does wardrobe affect productivity?

  4. Oh, ladies -- I'm so glad I have company! Barb, I'm most productive (and least receptive to visitors) when I'm comfortable, and since I hate creating unnecessary laundry, my pajamas do double duty as sleep clothes and work clothes.