How To Work From Home With Kids

When I work from home, I sit on the corner of the kitchen table, which means that I’m right in the thick of the action.  The living room is about 10 feet to my left, including the main television that the kids use for watching television and playing Wii.  They also tend to keep the volume on our tablets turned up pretty high, and Marissa takes after her father’s verbosity, so the kitchen table isn’t exactly a quiet sanctum.

Yet I still prefer to work from my favorite spot, noisy though it might be.  From here, all I have to do is turn my head to the left to see what the kids are doing, and I can easily hear when someone needs me, when someone calls our home telephone (yes, we still have a landline, though I suspect it’s mostly out of habit), or when one of the endless stream of UPS delivery people comes to the door to drop off yet another package from Amazon (darn you, Prime!).

That being said, all that noise and activity can be a distraction, especially when I need to do some deep thinking.  That’s where my secret comes in.

The first part is easy–listen to music on your headphones, so that you can more easily ignore the noise of the outside world (but snap back into focus at the sound of a scream or other red alert noise).  The secret lies in what kind of music.

The trick is to listen to music that is extremely old and familiar.  I’ll actually dig out old cassette tapes (!) that I made back when I was an undergrad at Stanford.  I spent many an hour with the trusty Aiwa boombox, making mixtapes by recording to tape from CD. (That last sentence was one of the most old-guy sentences you can right, by the way.)  When those aren’t available, I set up a Pandora channel based on fogey songs from the 1980s that I’ve heard hundreds of times.

The familiar music has a number of positives.

First, it puts me in a good mood.

Second, the heavy synthesizer rhythm keeps me working at a good pace.

Third, the lyrics are so nonsensical that they’re essentially white noise.  Seriously, what exactly are they singing about in “Africa?”

Finally, studies have shown that listening to the music of your youth actually makes you think, feel, and act younger.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my Member’s Only jacket.

3 thoughts on “How To Work From Home With Kids

  1. Africa is a great song. I think we are the same age so I'm guessing I have some cassettes with the same tunes you're listening to lying around. I work at home exclusively and the distraction is both wonderful and terrible, depending on the day (or the hour). xox

  2. I work from home and absolutely love it. All it requires me to do is have a computer and internet and I get to stay home all day with my kids and work around their nap schedules and whatever else. I make a very good income working only part time. It cost me ONE dollar to get started making great money. If you are interested in knowing more about what I do to make good money at my own schedule, without having products in my house or anything else, just let me know @, I will be glad to talk to you and get you started if you are interested in extra money that is so easy to get! Have a great day and I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. I wish I could work with the music on. I tried it so many times but if I hear music (any music at all), my brain focuses more on the music and not my work. That is one multi-tasking that never works for me.

    By the way I love Toto's "Africa". Ha! "Aiwa" boom box! I had one too!

    Got rid of all my cassette tapes though, with the kids and all, I need a lot of space, now all my music (about 300,000 songs) are in my 1TB external hard drive.

    My kids will probably give me a quizzical look by just using the word "cassette tape". They'll probably ask how you "burn" music into a cassette tape! LOL!

    BTW! Earlier this year 2013, to commemorate the election of a new Iranian president, "The Daily Show" satirically retired a tan "Members Only" jacket similar to one frequently worn by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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