“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That’s the caption of the famous New Yorker cartoon in which two dogs are sitting in front of a computer. Similarly, I would say, “If you work at home, no one knows you’re still wearing your pajamas.” You can present whatever image you want to the world and nobody know the difference because there are no witnesses. I work at home, I know.
But now, my husband is going to work from home, too.
I was about 99 percent comfortable with that concept until I read Ben Huberman’s “Witness” challenge today and I’m starting to worry. My spouse usually comes home from his downtown office and asks about my day. I whistle, wipe my brow and say, “Wow, really busy.” I stagger through the kitchen, lean on the counter and say, “You just wouldn’t believe it.” I embellish about what interesting people I talked to, writing projects in the works, and the burden of deadlines, then quickly change the conversation.
In my own defense, I must say, I don’t spend the day in pajamas. I spring out of bed, get dressed and eat breakfast. Then, bidding my husband “Have a great day!” I sprint upstairs to my office, a converted guest room that I call “world headquarters.” My assistant, Mr. Macduff, follows me. That’s my dog, Duffy. Half in jest, I’m creating a facade like the false fronts on the buildings in frontier towns, made to make them look bigger and fancier than they were.
I do my best work in the morning so I really do stick with it until at least noon. But studies have shown that we all have a limited reservoir of self-discipline–seriously, it’s not just me. My reservoir usually runs out after lunch. That’s when I daydream, flip through magazines I’d like to write for or succumb to the siren call of a sale at Macy’s.
But now someone else will be here to see that I’m not working like a dog all day. He’ll witness all the weird things I do, learn that I listen to strange New Age music, find me rummaging through the pantry cupboard for a few chocolate chips to eat. He’ll see me snoring on the couch, catching the occasional view of “Ellen” and he’ll be standing there when I try to sneak in with the bags from Macy’s. I’m so busted.
Yet, when I think about it, the situation works both ways when two people work at home. What will I witness? This is a man who I think will happily work in his undies. He’s inclined to talk to his computer and gripes at length while searching for affordable airline reservations. (So much swearing, so little time.) Worse yet, he’ll probably beat me to the leftovers I planned to eat for lunch. Clearly, boundaries must be drawn.
So, friends, readers and fellow bloggers, I implore you to send your advice on how to maintain a happy home (office). Write them in the comments box next to this post. Please respond quickly before my cover is completely blown.