It’s been a few days since I did a work-life balance whine, but it’s not like I’m not thinking about it. The problem for the moment is the psychology of trying to be productive in limited time. Specifically, while I know intellectually that I need to be efficient in working, and make the most of even small blocks of free time, this runs hard up against my personal psychology, which is that I hate being interrupted.
The example that brought this to mind is from this morning. This summer, we’ve established a routine where I get up around 6:30 and take The Pip downstairs for drinking milk and watching stuff off the DVR, while Kate goes back to bed for an hour or so. The Pip is, unfortunately, cutting a molar, and it’s very hard to be a Little Dude when you’re getting great big teeth, so he didn’t sleep well at all last night. And when I went in to get him, he wanted to continue sleeping on Kate’s lap, so I came downstairs by myself.
And since this freed up a block of time, I decided to try to put it to good use, working on a blog post for later today. In a sadly predictable manner, though, Il Duderino woke up and demanded to come downstairs (followed shortly by his big sister) when I was maybe halfway through.
The problem is, while half a blog post is better than the nothing I would’ve gotten done had The Pip been on his usual schedule, I find it really intensely irritating to have to break off in the middle of something. Like, physically angry, stomp-around-and-snap-at-the-kids irritating. I’m perfectly happy to write off an hour completely to catching up on The Daily Show with the Little Dude, but having that time nominally “freed up” was actually worse for my mood and overall productivity than doing nothing at all.
This is really the primary limiting factor in my attempts to maintain some sort of productivity while also fulfilling my family responsibilities. I try to do the “work in little blocks” thing that everyone recommends, but it just never works out well. Except in the exceedingly rare cases where I have something to do that I can actually finish in the short breaks that come up while the kids are around, trying to get work done in small chunks just leaves me pissed off all the time, because I’m always being interrupted. So everything gets pushed off to times when they’re either asleep or at day care, and I end up with long stretches of completely unproductive time during the day. Which does nothing to help with the fact that I’m a giant ball of stress over the book-in-progress and various work-related stuff.
I have no idea what to do about this, but it’s making me crazy. The options seem to be walking around in a foul mood a lot of the time, or sacrificing some part of my professional activities so as to free up time for doing nothing. Which, incidentally, tends to put me in a foul mood.
I need to either find a way to be more Zen about the whole thing, or become much more of an asshole than I already am. And while I’m well aware that as a man, the “asshole” route is far more socially acceptable than it would be for a woman in my position, that doesn’t actually help anything…