A lot of us are working from home right now, so I think this is a good time to talk about why we’re not getting anything done.
I’m an expert on this subject—not getting anything done, I mean. And I can tell you, it’s not our fault. It’s the distractions we all have in our homes. Family members and pets demand our attention at inconvenient times throughout the day. So do snack cupboards.
Some people get sidetracked by household chores. They head to their home office, pass by a pile of clean laundry and can’t resist the urge to fold it. I’m proud to say I can usually withstand that temptation. And then there’s technology. On their own, the following are plenty effective at distracting us from our work. They’re even better at it when we didn’t want to do the work anyway.
Internet rabbit holes: I often go to the internet for research, but I have to be careful or I’ll fall down a rabbit hole and forget what I was researching. Let me demonstrate: I’d like another way to say “rabbit hole” because it’s a cliché and as a professional writer, I avoid clichés like the plague. I type “rabbit hole” into my search bar and discover that a play called Rabbit Hole won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007. Who knew? It was later made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman who, incidentally, is currently self-isolating with her adorable cavoodle puppy. I’ve never heard of a cavoodle. It’s highlighted so I click on it. The road to hell is paved with hyperlinks.
A cavoodle is a cross between a poodle and a cavalier King Charles spaniel and is one of Australia’s most popular breeds. Isn’t Nicole Kidman from Australia? Quick search. Why, yes she is, and she’s married to country music star Keith Urban who, hyperlink click, also once lived in Australia. I wonder if that’s where they met. And how he feels about the cavoodle. Half an hour has passed and I decide to stick with “rabbit hole” or I’ll never finish this column. Email overload: I get more emails than Santa gets letters and it’s my fault. I’ve signed up for every blog, online newsletter, quote of the day and tip of the week there is for writers. There’s so much wisdom in my inbox. Why write when I could read about writing?
There’s also a lot of hooey in there. I’d never get anything done if I didn’t turn the sound down on my computer so it doesn’t ding every time Dr. Fungus emails me, which is two or three hundred times a day. Clearly he’s working at home, and he’s been joined by sellers of masks and hand sanitizer who I’m sure are every bit as trustworthy as he is.
Phone notifications: A guest in my home had the most interesting sound effect for her phone notifications. Every time she got a text, her phone barked. Naturally, this got everyone’s attention, especially the cat’s.
Entertaining as it was, I can’t have anything like that. If my phone barked every time I got a message, this column would be late and I’d never see my cat again. I turn off notifications on my phone and set it to vibrate for phone calls. Sure I miss some calls, but most of them are about my vehicle warranty expiring and I’ve already been told that several times.
Social media: This is by far the most distracting of all because there so much fascinating information to be found on Facebook and the rest of them. Today, a woman I follow on Twitter asked this interesting question: How tall are you? She had hundreds of responses. I’m not making that up. Can’t those people see they’re wasting valuable time and avoiding actual work? By the way, I’m 5 feet 6 inches. Nicole Kidman is 5 feet 11 inches. I looked it up.
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest. Contact [email protected])
Sidetracks despite determination to work