During our holiday staycation, my husband and I moved our comfortable cloud sofa and our television (which only streams) into our home office. I set up my crafting supplies and furnishings behind the sofa. We spent a week in that room. In the morning, I wrote, sometimes next to my husband listening to a soccer game through his headphones. We worked on client and business projects in the afternoons. In the evenings, we painted furniture, a movie playing in the background. We fell asleep to our favorites, The Matrix and Men in Black, dogs piled on top of us, cats hissing at them to GTFO of their night space.
Our initial motivation wasn’t to staycate in our office. It was noise. We work with remote teams. When we are focused on the same initiative, a shared space is ideal. When we aren’t, and in 2020 we won’t be as often, we are distracted by each other’s meetings. Especially when one person’s discussion is more interesting than whatever the other person is supposed to doing. (In retrospect, I honestly don’t know how I got anything done in an office.)
My study is upstairs and it has a door. I write and do focused work there in the early morning. That room could also be a meeting room. If I were willing. I am not. No. No. A thousand times, no. I have learned the hard way that Virgina Woolf was right. Ignore her at our creative and intellectual peril.
Our home has very few rooms with doors, its mostly open. Our office is a room over the garage, separated by stairs from the main house but has no door. We could add a door. If you saw the work involved, you’d agree, doing that is a last resort. So we moved Activities That Don’t Need a Door into our office and moved my husband’s desk out.
He called it “moving the We stuff into one room.” And so it was. The week was like vacationing on a small boat outfitted with all our favorite things. His desk went into a small room upstairs that has a door. We aren’t sure what that room was supposed to be, it’s tiny for a bedroom. A nursery maybe? We’ve set it up three times now, a craft space, TV room, an office. My husband was a city dweller who never had space to consider a “room of one’s own”, so he didn’t think he wanted one. Now he’s shopping at Restore for furnishings, settling in.
On Monday, we go “back to work”. But we aren’t going back … we are going forward. Into a mindset I’ve never experienced before. During the holiday, we did all kinds of work. Work for our clients, our business, this website. We painted our fireplace, restored furniture and painted picture frames with the help of our favorite mentor. We cooked stews, made nut milk for the first time and grain-free crackers from the pulp. We trained the dogs to jump through hoops (literally). Oh, and, meanwhile there was Christmas and New Years.
We all spend our waking hours working on something. Yet, we don’t call all work, work. The gaps between Job and Home; Paid work and Unpaid “work”; Creativity and Tasks are culturally-created distinctions. In those gaps grow a forest of “I can never do enough or be enough”. Maintaining our dissociated state is a painful way to live. We build internal walls and call them work life boundaries (mine leak constantly).
What if we see our daily investment of energy as a holistic group of meaningful activities that interdepend? Rather than a “work hard, play hard” dichotomy? What if we stopped dragging ourselves into Friday night and then dragging ourselves into Monday (or whatever your on/off structure is), and settled into a rhythm for the long run? One in which our work balances us. What if we valued all meaningful work we do, whether or not it is visible to or valued by others?
I want to measure “enough” by the quality of integration between the types of “work” I do. Rather than measure enough by the accolades and benefits I receive when I break myself into disparate personas. The roles I play do not describe the work I invest my energy in doing. What is my work?
Now that I’ve asked these questions out loud, let’s see what happens …