Unpopular Opinion: WFH in 2020

WEAR THE PAJAMAS. DON’T PUT ON YOUR MAKEUP. TAKE 30 MINUTES TO BROWSE THE INTERNET. SAY YES AND PLAY WITH THE KIDS FOR A MINUTE.  EAT THE SNACKS.

Enjoy the freedoms and don’t be so hard on yourself. Life isn’t perfect right now, and you don’t have to be either.

The kids are screaming, your cat threw up on the floor, your boss wants ANOTHER zoom meeting. And you can barely keep it together. Life isn’t the same during a pandemic, and you can’t expect all the tips about how someone with childcare (or childless) and a nice home office works from home to translate to you.  I know that companies are doing their best to help new work from home employees be successful, but not all advice is practical. 

Do what is right for you. 

Dress up in your regular clothes for work.

If you don’t have any client facing meetings, don’t feel pressure to get dressed up. If you could use those extra 20 minutes to get more work done or finish the day early, do it. Someone wants an impromptu video call? Get comfortable in being your authentic self, just make sure you have something on! 

Set regular work hours and stick to them.

If you don’t have time sensitive meetings and calls and have some work that can be done on discretionary time, don’t feel like it needs to be done during 9-5. Shift your hours to where you feel more productive.  Take a break in the middle of the day to play with your kids/dog or do an online workout or just have a mental break and pick up that work later. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and more productive.

Trying to set a rigid schedule around work time can almost be as stressful as not having any set time.  Instead of making a schedule, think smaller steps like creating an “end time” for your day. Agree with your partner (or yourself) when the workday is over so you both have healthy expectations of when you’ll be done.  Figure out what makes you more productive. Is it working one hour on each task then switch? Is it spending 2 hours straight then a 30-minute break? Find a rhythm and call it a “flexible routine,” NOT rigid schedule. Say it with me, “flexible routine.”

Don’t turn on the TV, social media, let your kids watch YouTube all day.

Do you normally have screen time goals for yourself or limits for your kids?  Guess what, screen time is up, and I didn’t have to check your app to know. Are you a bad parent? No. Is this going to permanently affect your kid’s development in the long run? No.  Will you finally get an hour of work done while they play on the iPad/watch tv? Yes. Now don’t feel guilty about it.

Find yourself looking at social media more? We are all craving the connection to friends, family, and coworkers that we haven’t had for over a month. It’s ok to take a break and talk to a friend. Be mindful of your time, and when your break is over, go back to work.  Am I saying spend all day on Facebook? Not at all. Just don’t beat yourself up for needing some social interaction.

Eat healthy and don’t snack all day.

Some people are planners and others are not.  If you weren’t good at meal prep before, no one expects you to be an overnight sensation.  Want a snack? Go for it. Are you actually hungry or just procrastinating? If you’re just procrastinating, no judgment. Realize it, take your break, and get back to it. Some of us miss that walk to the watercooler or the breakroom for a cup of coffee. There’s no shame in being human.

Worried about putting on extra weight? So is everyone else without access to a gym or their normal routine and food options. This is temporary. In my experience, creating rules against eating certain things only makes you crave them more. I ate a granola bar, some fruit, and a yogurt trying to avoid the cookie, but still want the cookie and ate 3x the calories.  Do your best but realize that mental health is just as important.  Don’t allow it to become an obsession. Eat the cookie.

How do you stay connected/ homeschool a child/ be just as productive as you are at the office/ be healthy/ and not stress out every day?

You don’t. Take a deep breath and realize that there is an adjustment period.  Try different things. See what works for you.  Some days you’ll get more work done than you have in a week and others you might do less. Some days you’ll feel like you have this whole work/life balance down and others you’ll barely remember to shower.  Instead of counting cups of coffee, you are counting coffee pots. Is breakfast ok for dinner? Today it is. Do we just need to order takeout and take a break from doing dishes? Sure. Do you really want to join another 20 person video chat happy hour? I don't know, do you?

In all practicality, make a list of the most important things you need to do, go outside and take a breath of fresh air, and call and talk to a friend/family member/co-worker. Most of all, be gentle on yourself!

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