It’s crazy that only days ago the #WFH (that’s work from home) was only known to a small few – bloggers and MLMers (like myself) and people in sales (like my husband) to name a few. But as the world gets, well, let’s face it – different, so many people are being thrust into this new world of home life/work-life balance. I understand, I empathize, because this was 100% me, 4 years ago.
For as long as I worked in an office after college, I’ve worked in my home. I’m a veteran – but how I got here was a quick, rash change that really did a number on me. The cliff notes – I went from having 3 jobs, all outside of the home and all VERY social to quitting my job, moving 2 hours away and going whole-hog into running my home business in a matter of a month – just after getting married. It shook me so much, I ended up in treatment for depression. I get it, it can be hard, a shock to your system. In fact, my go-to life motto “we can do hard things” was inspired by a talk from a fellow #WFH friend when I was pretty close to rock bottom.
I’ve grown into this role as a working from home (and now a stay at home/work from home mom), with my husband working just feet away, which means you can too. There are definitely a few simple tricks that have made it worthwhile – to which, I feel like I am capable enough to give some advice to all of you out there.
Create a Routine and STICK TO IT
This is my #1 most important thing, and the hardest thing for me to do – especially chasing around a baby these days, but it’s vital. At home it seems like you have so much more time until you don’t – and it is so incredibly easy to waste. There is no boss peering over your shoulder if you are scrolling social media, and also there’s nobody turning off the lights when it’s “quittin’ time.” There’s nobody reminding you to eat and taking a stroll around the cubes to say hi to friends isn’t really a thing. So make an agreement with yourself that you’ll be at your desk at a certain time of day – that Netflix episode can wait. You’ll take lunch – and then at the end of the day, you’ll unplug. In our household, we have our devices on do not disturb from 8-8, that’s our family time and being connected to the office for 12 hours a day is PLENTY. I use google calendars and even time-block my day, just like I would in the office when I couldn’t handle one more meeting.
Get dressed to impress – yourself.
If dressing up for work is something you loathe, don’t do it. If you like wearing makeup and looking nice, put it on and fix your hair! The key thing that you have to do – I’m talking non-negotiable is: get dressed. Even if it is a clean set of pajamas. For me – it’s usually workout chic, and if the morning goes well, my hair is fixed too. If you act sloppy, you will feel sloppy and your work will be sloppy…but sloppy is not the same as comfy, for sure.
Let the Sunshine In ☀️
Vitamin D is a natural antidepressant – so be sure to open all your curtains and if possible, put your desk where you can see outside. Even better? Spend 30 minutes of your day outside, maybe a conference call you can take while going around the block? Or eat your lunch on the patio. When the weather is good – I like to even do my home workouts outside.
Give Yourself Breaks
A friend of mine told me to follow “The Tomato Timer Method” the first day I started working from home and I haven’t forgotten it – probably because well, I’m allergic to tomatoes. It goes like this: Set a timer for 45 minutes, or however long you think you can focus (that seems to be my magic number) – and for those 45 minutes you are balls-to-the-wall focused on your work. No distractions. And then, for 15 minutes, you can take a break. That can be answering emails, throwing in a load of laundry, grabbing a snack – anything. But, at the top of the next hour, you go right back into your next task. This method is based on the idea that people really only get AT MAXIMUM 6 hours of productive work time while at the office, so you are mimicking that at home while minimizing your distractions.
Continue to Meal Prep
Just because you are working from home and are saving time does not mean that you need to eat like it’s the weekend every day and binge on snacks or go out to eat all the time for human interaction. And – spending time cooking meals daily can really add up. To stay on track with your fitness goals, take a few hours (I do Sundays & Wednesdays) and make that your cooking day where you prep everything down to your snacks. That way, if boredom sets in, you aren’t eating for entertainment (my case) or undereating if you get too busy (my husband’s case).
Interact with another person outside your household
It is so easy to go down the path of isolation – and when terms like “Social Distancing” are becoming normal, think of it like “physical distancing.” We are humans, mammals, and we require some form of social interaction. You can do that in so many ways – for me, I facetime someone each day but I also conduct many meetings that could just be a phone call over video chat. I use zoom meetings (It’s free for your first meeting a day!), and workout from home with my friends, too. Is it the same as getting a hug? no – but for this extroverted physical touch love language girl, it’s wonderful to see that face on the other side of the screen. Others need that interaction too, so set up a touch-base with your team or grab some friends and have a digital happy hour.
Create your space.
I love that song from Cinderella (the live action one, with Brandy) – “In my own little corner, in my own little chair – I can be whoever I want to be.” It’s true – and you do need your own space to create. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a desk or fancy computer, but taking over a corner of the dining room saying “This will be my space” or using your dresser as a stand-up desk. The point is, you have a space to work, an escape where your ideas hang out…and also where you can leave. So its in your bedroom? You don’t sit in that chair unless you are working, or you put a sheet over your computer when you are done working (been there!). My husband and I now work in separate rooms – but that wasn’t always the case either, but having “my space” that nobody else touches – that’s power.
Believe in yourself.
At the end of the day, you’ve got this – and you can thrive at home. It took me a few years, and therapy bills to believe this – so if I’m speaking to the “me” of before, I would like to remind you, Amy, that you can choose your feelings and how you react, and sometimes that is hard – but you are in control of that. Also, after doing this for so long it’s really made me cherish those few personal moments I do have. Create your boundaries, celebrate you don’t have to wear pants if they depress you and get ready, it’s a bright blue-lit world on this side too.