First week

First week

After a full first week of my new job, I can report that I think it’s going to work out great.

It’s been a bit of an adjustment, going back to a daily commute and working in an office after 15 years. It’s been that long since I commuted every day to an office. Since 1996, I’ve worked from home, which has its own challenges.

For one thing when you work from home, you need to be self-motivated and able to separate yourself from distractions. For another you have to be able to clearly separate work from family time. In a telecommuting environment, you can easily slip into a pattern of working all the time because your desk and your computer are right there.

The hardest part of the new job has been adjusting to the commute. There’s no getting around it: traffic in the Boston area is terrible. The most natural route for me is to hop on nearaby Route 128 and drive down to the Massachusetts Turnpike. Without traffic it should take 45 minutes at the most. One day last week it took 2 hours.

I could go down Route 1A toward Logan Airport and then drive through the Ted Williams cross-harbor tunnel to pick up the Mass. Pike going west, in the opposite direction of traffic. Even during rush hour that should take no more than 1 hour. Unfortunately, the tolls would be five dollars per day roundtrip. That adds up to $25 per week, $1250 per year! Just for tolls!

So I think I’ve come up with a solution. I’m now leaving the house at 6:15 am, which is before the rush hour begins in earnest (although there are plenty of people on the road with me), and go down Route 128 to get me to the office between 7:15 and 7:30. Then I work until 3:30 at which time I head home through the Ted Williams Tunnel, getting me home by 4:30. That gives me two more hours with Melanie and Isabella before Isabella has to go to sleep than I was otherwise getting. If I let the office promptly at 5, I wouldn’t be home until 6:30 at best and got only about 30 minutes with Bella before her bath and bedtime.

Thankfully, my boss gives me this flexibility (along with my co-workers; this isn’t special treatment) with the understanding that if he needs me there until 5 or later on some days then I’ll be there. An added bonus is that between 7:30 and 9, I get plenty of time without interruption to work. Not that my co-workers are distractions, but it is nice to be able to focus on my projects first thing in the morning.

Whew! I don’t know people manage to commute and get anything done around the house, especially those of you with both spouses working. When I get home there’s barely enough time to have dinner, unpack a box, and then collapse in front of the computer to catch up on email and RSS alongside Melanie who does the same.

The only downside is getting up even earlier, about 5:30, but then Isabella’s been preparing me for that for the past year. smile

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  • “An added bonus is that between 7:30 and 9, I get plenty of time without interruption to work. Not that my co-workers are distractions, but it is nice to be able to focus on my projects first thing in the morning.”

    This is a prime reason why I get in early…avoid the workplace distractions and many meetings, so I can get things done.

    (As a sidebar, I recently clued in about how some use emails. Besides those who expect an immediate reply—as if I’m spending my working hours waiting for emails to come in—I have some colleagues that walk into my office to tell me they just sent me an email.

    If it was so important for me to reply, why send the email in the first place? And if it can wait, why interrupt me to tell me about the email?)

    Good luck with the commute. My afternoon commute is only about 35 minutes but it is bumper to bumper and I am worn out by the time I get home.

  • A telecommute job obviously allows enough flexibility to go to daily Mass. Before Isabella, Melanie and I often went. Not as much after.

    As you might expect, the chancery has daily Mass at noon. Unfortunately, around the area where we live now there aren’t many pre-work Masses available.

  • My family moved into our new house in February of ‘06, and our fourth bedroom / office is still a massive box warehouse.  You have my sympathies.

  • Dom,

    Did you consider getting a place near the commuter rail? Is there a station not far from you? A monthly pass is a bit pricey if you live in the outer zones, but think of all the time for reading and relaxation you get every week instead of wasted hours in traffic!

    I’m fortunate enough to live in the city, but when I start my own family, I would hate to spend 2 hours a day going to work and back in a miserable car.

    You have my sympathies!

  • Salem has a commuter rail station.

    Melanie used to commute to Boston College when she was a student there and living in Salem. It took her at least 2 hours each way on the train on a good day.

    So I could spend more than 2 hours each way crammed into a cattle car, traveling according to the whim of the train schedules, paying just as much for a T pass as I do for gas and tolls every month.

    Or I can go in early and leave early if I wish, driving in the comfort of my car, and spend 2 hours total. I’ll stick to my car, thanks.

  • You’re really blessed to have a supervisor and job that are so flexible. That’s a luxury that most people don’t have. I can’t complain about my commute, but it’s true that the traffic around the Boston area is truly unbelievable.