There’s No Crying over Spilt Coffee:  It Can be a Blessing – Laugh and Learn


The Wonderful World of Business

By Jim Penn


Those of us who work at home can exhibit idiosyncratic behavior not allowed in the conventional workplace.  This free spirit behavior has its downside, too.  Less discipline in the workplace – shoes off or laces untied and torn sweatshirts – can present problems.  However, after spilling a mug of coffee at my desk for the third time this week, it struck me; such gaffes are not causes for crying but laughing.


Okay, let’s get the clichés out of the way.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and when dealt lemons, make lemonade.


Sorry for that, but I had to do it.  Coffee spilt at a work station is a blessing in disguise; it forces you to clean off as well as clean up your desk.  Recognizing this valuable tool in home office cleanliness, I began to think of other lessons I’ve been forced to learn that could be communicated to others who work at home.  I made a list, although I have not checked it twice.  Neither naughty nor nice, here it is:


* Shave and shower in the morning, or it’ll never happen.


* Your attention span is directly proportional to the number of coffees drunk.  Confine your coffee drinking to the morning hours, and productivity in the afternoon will measurably improve.


* Hide the portable phone when working on a deadline.  A variation of hide-the-portable-phone is to place it in a plastic bag and give it to a golden retriever writing companion to hide upstairs.  It also turns into a game when a deadline has been met.


* Dedicate a daily or weekly time period for anal retentiveness (AR).  These AR activities include counting paperclips, checking to see which pens are almost out of ink and preparing lists that are the product of other lists that have been delisted.  AR “time-out” is also called AR “time alone;” spouses should not be included.


* Snacks, particularly crackers, should be eaten directly over a prelined wastebasket.  Also, it doesn’t hurt to teach a canine companion to eat his portion over the wastebasket, too.  Dogs can be taught; cats cannot without extensive, intensive human training.  Teaching time should be included in your AR time allocation.


* Shredding is both entertainment and exercise.  Materials should be shredded during your exercise period.  Exercises that can be done while shredding include balancing on one foot, waiving fingers in the air and leg stretches.  Make sure your shredder has a finger guard.


If these activities do not provide enough exercise, there’s always the opportunity to run around the house with scissors in your hand.  Although frowned upon by parents, I’m at an age where I can do this with impunity.


Dancing is not only permitted, but encouraged.  Dancing is always an acceptable form of exercise, and uninhibited office dancing is the best.  If you’ve got hardwood or concrete floors, try a little tap dancing to Sibelius’ 2nd.  Magic, pure magic.


Mental exercises are also necessary while working at home, and I suggest juggling assignments and jumping to conclusions.


As you can see, if viewed in the proper light, home office activities can be fun and productive.  Intraoffice communication is also very important.  My golden retriever, Cheddar, and I have it down pat.  Two thumps on the rug with his tail means either a cookie or outside duty calls.  A whistle or two from me and the display of a plastic bag means a trip upstairs to deposit messages for my house mate.  Key jiggling signals our daily trip to the post office, hopefully the bank and a walk. 


The opportunities for office procedure improvement never cease.  I purchased from “Pennally’s Large Dog Opposing Thumbs.”  Although they fit Cheddar, and his keyboarding has become passable, he still refuses to use spell check.  A dog out of water and all that jazz.


Hope springs eternal, though, and it’s all in a day’s work.