When a Crock’s Not a Crock

Over the years I’ve had a few consulting firms as clients. Thus I’ve been exposed to a lot of theory about lost time and whatnot, which is why I can be so “efficiency” minded — even if I’m sometimes poor at practicing what I preach to myself.

But since Maggie came into our lives 11 months ago, efficiency has become a means of survival. She is a great kid for a work-from-home parent, nearly always happy and proficiently self-entertaining. Even so, sharing space with a baby consumes a few hours of each of my workdays.

Diaper changes, wardrobe changes, toy clean-ups, toy re-clean-ups, and rescuing her from every dangerous situation she can find — all of that pinches the minutes available for work. Nowadays the last thing I want to do at 5 p.m. is get off the computer so I can get on the stove. I don’t want to lose that hour.

That’s why the crock pot has become such a standard in our domestic repertoire. My mom gave my wife one for Christmas, and it’s made our culinary life easier to live. I love cooking (I’m the one who does most of the non-microwave food prep in the house), but on most days now I just want to not worry about it.

The crock pot gives me two huge conveniences:

  1. Cooking is actually faster. The food isn’t ready to eat until forever, but my role in compiling it is brief. Most slow-cooker recipes involve just cutting and measuring (and the latter is barely necessary), followed by dumping everything in the pot and pressing the power button.
  2. One crock-pot session gives us three or four meals’ worth of food. We can eat until at least Wednesday on Monday’s bounty. Two days of cooking can feed us for a week. We sometimes don’t have enough Pyrex containers to contain it all.

On cooking day I spend all afternoon hungry, because I can smell the food simmering for hours upon hours. I keep peeking at it to see if it looks as good as it smells. Then my wife loves walking in the house and smelling the brew.

We haven’t ventured far down this culinary road yet, and the short distance we have traveled has included just the usual stops, such as beef stew, pulled chicken and chicken soup that was supposed to be chicken stew.

I recently posted a request for crock-pot ideas on Facebook and received a generous portion of recipes from friends and family, ranging from pulled-porks to puddings to soufflés to casseroles to enough oatmeal to feed the cast of Oliver!

We will likely try it all, which should give me more time to write. Bring on the paper. Bring on the Pyrex.

I Done It

Perhaps the biggest challenge of working from home is discipline. Without being visible to other human beings, you can avoid work and get away with it. You can take a three-hour lunch or a two-hour coffee break and use the cumulative hours to catch up on watching the Lost series for the fourth time. Lost hours can become lost days, which can become lost weeks — in more ways than one.

Unless you come from a military background or are just a freak of nature, maintaining a disciplined work schedule without second-party oversight is usually more challenging than finding new business.

The trick, then, is to be accountable to yourself. air yeezy 2 femmes And a good trick to that is to be accountable to an extended version of yourself.

Many people do this already, in the form of making task lists. The list essentially becomes your virtual manager. If you write ten things you need to accomplish but you complete only five, then just looking at the unchecked tasks forces you to be accountable to the earlier version of you who assigned them. It’s like having a virtual manager, except the manager is really you.

But for some reason that could probably be explained by only a psychologist, lists don’t work well with me. And I’ve tried just about every list trick available. But there’s a reverse strategy that does work. Instead of recording a queue of what I should get around to doing, at the end of the day I create a record of what I actually did.

A handy tool helps me with this: an online app called iDoneThis. It’s very simple, yet brilliant in its simplicity.

Every day (or week, or whatever interval you set), iDoneThis sends you an email asking what you’ve accomplished. You reply with your answer, and the website maintains a calendar of your productivity. You can edit or delete anything, anytime, and you can add items by just replying again.

Perhaps to-do lists work for you. Everyone is different, and even for me a list can be functional, such as for keeping a large number of tasks organized. But for everyday work stuff, I find that I’m much more motivated by marking accomplishments than by making demands. The presence of a to-do list feels self-nagging. roshe run hyp femmes However, I never want to end a day without a hefty report to return to iDoneThis.

The solo version of the service is free, but companies, organizations or teams can use a group version for only $5 per person. It’s a great way to track progress and to follow up on projects.