Both my wife and I work from home, which you would think would make things a bit easier. What it actually means is that neither of you work at all, except by sacrificing some of those precious hours of peace in the middle of the night (which you pay very dearly for over the following days). We tried working in shifts, but somehow what sounds perfectly feasible in theory just didn’t work in practice.
After the first four months he did settle down quite a lot. However, by coincidence, there are/were a series of shows on BBC 3 as part of their Baby Britain Season that we have been watching and simply do not recognise how their babies just seem to sit quietly and contentedly in a bouncer, or fall asleep on their mat in the middle of a group conversation, or nap for more that half an hour, or sleep through most of the night. Ours just didn’t do any of those things. Even the health visitor had to agree that sleeping or being quiet just wasn’t our little guy’s thing.
As we both have projects on the boil, the only way we’ve really been able to get back working is to each do 1 hour shifts throughout the day. Now that he’s more alert and playful, he’s also a bit more of a handful and an hour is about the limit of his tolerance for playing with just one person.
This post is actually about the difference this regime has had on my ability to get things done. I always seem to be about six months behind where I actually want to be. I just can’t seem to type and/or read fast enough to keep up with all the coding and research that needs to be done. When I’m at work, the pile is so high that I just bog straight in and do whatever the next bit is. Thus, even though I often used to do a 12-16 hour day, I still didn’t seem to get around to all those little admin things that keep the world at bay. You know the ones, keeping up with emails, paying the bills, updating a blog. Thank goodness for my wife who ends up dealing with all the really important stuff that keeps us in the black.
However, having only an hour to do something has been a real revelation. Suddenly there’s no point starting something huge - so you can sort through your emails, outline that article, ring the plumber, get back to that person or finish that post. It’s nowhere near as efficient at getting though all the big stuff I still have to do, but it’s fantastic at getting rid of all those nagging little things that make you wince at night just as you’re trying to get to sleep. Suddenly you don’t have to keep remembering to remember stuff which, until you do it, you don’t realise how much of your time it takes up.
I understand that this is trivially obvious to most people, especially anyone who has successfully used Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done method. But to me it’s been quite a revelation.
The other revelation has been the opportunity to try a little pair programming - I figure he owes me at least 1000 hours at this point. Even at Autodesk, hacking out code is a pretty isolating process, so it’s good to finally have two heads on the job instead of just one. My wife thinks it’s a bit early, but I’m not so sure as he can be pretty brutal in a code review. Also I didn’t need glasses before he arrived, but I guess that’s what 3-4 hours sleep most nights does for you…
6 April, 2013 - 21:19Vladimir Bajic
I really liked your post. Besides being a father of a boy and a girl who are 4 and 8 now, I am an engineer and a programmer who is developing building energy modeling software. Most of my programing was and is done on my commuter train when I am going to work. Late nights after kids go to sleep are also included. I can only tell you that there is a light at the end of tunnel, even though that the tunnel is very long. All the best,