It’s well-known that good communication is the key to success in relationships of any kind. And when you spend nearly every minute of every day with your life partner because you work from home together, those skills have to be at their prime.
Like many full-time RVers, we worked from the road. In our case, in a tiny toy-hauler with only one area that needed to be everything—living room, dining room, garage, dog den, and office. But even before that in our small Nevada house—and now in our even smaller New Mexico house—we’ve always shared a small office. In all of those scenarios we sit facing each other across our work spaces.
I often call what we do “professional plate spinning.” We have a lot of crockery in the air and it takes substantial mental cycles to keep it all spinning so everything doesn’t crash down around us. (Spoiler alert: we ended up failing miserably at that while full-timing.)
Part of our gig is managing three websites and a half-dozen associated print-on-demand online shops. That ups the ante on the need to have our communication dialed in. Not only to keep things up and running, but because we each play different roles in those projects. That means we have different work flows, amounts of time we spend on each one, and times of the day we tend to those tasks.
Jumping between all of them takes a good deal of mental fortitude and organizational skills. We learned early on in our work life together that we needed some unspoken signals to manage that. Otherwise we end up derailing the other’s work flow.
That’s where the hats come in. It’s a no-brainer way to communicate what we’re working on. When I’m wearing my Val in Real Life hat is not the time to bring up Propane & Bourbon. That brings my feverish, focused work to a brain-melting halt. And it’s not the time for me to yank J into Val in Real Life land when he’s deep into managing Sierra Mountain Passes. You get the idea.
The hats aren’t the be-all-end-all. We still have to pay attention to one another’s demeanor and level of focus to pick our time for an important interruption. But the hats set the framework and help us manage our complicated, close-quarters work life.
And now, back to those plates.