I started working from home on March 18th, unexpectedly. I had brought my laptop home & a couple folders with some work in it, but I was not at all prepared to be working from home long term. No big deal, I was told I could return to the office after 2 weeks. Fast forward 3 days & the company stated that all personnel was to work from home starting the following Monday. Alright... this is gonna be a bit more difficult. My first thought? I DON'T HAVE MY NOTEBOOK!
Once I heard the news, I asked my co-worker to break into my office before she left & grab a handful of things for me that she could pass off to me sometime the following week. After working out of my laptop bag backpack, I realized a few things that would have come in handy besides my notebook... like a stapler, my calculator & screw it - the computer monitor too. I've got spreadsheets to work on!
Seeing as how I've included a picture of my beloved notebook, you know that I did manage to meet up with her this week & get my things. But even having some of my supplies again, I've noticed a lot of things about myself, my work & my home after working from home over the last 8 days.
#1. I'm not set up to work from home for more than a day or 2.
This is my current work area. I started this work at home journey from my kitchen table. Which, worked fine. I had plenty of space to spread my things out. But by the end of day 2, I was complaining about how uncomfortable the chair was. I found myself snacking constantly, because hello refrigerator, hello pantry, hello bag of popcorn sitting on the counter. And by day 3, I was realizing how COLD it was in my kitchen, and I absolutely hate bundling up in my own home.
Day 4, I tried moving upstairs to my desk which I had given up to my step daughters with the exception of my sewing machine still setting on, but quickly realized that area was cramped, cold & the folding chair I had for it was even more uncomfortable than the kitchen chair. Nope, this isn't gonna work. I worked from the couch that afternoon, but was going crazy not having a hard surface.
Day 5, I ordered myself a lap tray desk on Amazon that should hopefully make it here by tomorrow. In the interim, I asked my parents if they still had the TV Tray Tables that they had when I moved out 13 years ago & they did. I grabbed that & it was an immediate upgrade to the couch work area, and I was warm again in the living room! The only downfall was I had to sit on the edge of the couch because if I leaned back against it, I was too far away from my laptop. The next day, I grabbed a big overstuffed memory foam pillow & this has been the BEST solution so far, and I'm getting used to it. I wish the table were a touch wider & a touch lower, but it's really not all that bad. Considering returning the tray table if I don't 100% love it when it comes tomorrow.
#2. I lose track of time.
I don't know what it is, but the days FLY by. I know I can definitely stay focused more when I'm at home, and sometimes Video Conference after Video Conference can be annoying & things take longer to get done because we're ALL working remotely, but the days absolutely fly by. I start my day with an 8:30am Team Video Conference & after that, I find myself thinking shoot - It's like 11:30/11:45 & I'm way late for Cuomo's daily press conference. Then after that ends, it's like 1:30 & I'm like geez, I forgot to eat lunch. Then we have our end of day Video Conference at 4:30, and when that ends at 5, I've got 30 minutes to wrap it up. The days just fly.
#3. I'm not drinking enough water.
This is all the water I drank yesterday. I don't have to tell you, drinking water is important. I'm not sure if it's because my work area isn't big enough so most of the time that water bottle gets moved, but I'm straight up not drinking enough & I've gotta figure out a way to fix that. I might set hourly alarms on my Alexa to remind me to chug 1/4 of a bottle.
I also think part of the problem is that when in the office, getting up to refill my water bottle would be a nice break. I could step away from my work for 5 minutes, visit with co-workers as I passed by & refill the bottle. There's none of that to be done working from home.
#4. My pets had just as much of an adjustment period as I did.
I'm pretty lucky that my pets are pretty chill. The photo of my dog Gunnar above is pretty much how he spends his entire day - right next to my lap while I work. But in the beginning, he spent an entire day licking his paw. I checked the thing at least a dozen times & I couldn't find anything wrong with it. I think he was nervous because I hadn't left the house in 5 days & he wasn't sure why. After all, he's used to spending 8+ hours home alone with his 2 kitty sisters every day & that has certainly changed. Pippa slept in her cat bed yesterday for a solid 7 hours. Is that normal? I don't know. Maybe she just wanted to stay out of my way. I have another cat too... she was anti social before all of this, and nothing has changed.
Every once in awhile, Gunnar will jump up & join me in a Video Conference & I'm just glad my co-workers don't seem to mind. He doesn't bark or make noise, so that's always a plus.
#5. I burn more candles.
I know. That's super random. But I do! Obviously it's because I'm home more, but also my time spent at home isn't necessarily moving things around, cleaning, people all over the place, etc. For the most part, it's quiet & calm here so I feel like I can burn them & not worry. This one is almost gone, so I'm excited to go pick out a new scent from my stash!
#6. I'm now eating a real, hot breakfast & it takes less than 5 minutes to cook.
This is something I hope to continue after quarantine, social distancing & work from home life goes away. This is usually my go to, so long as I can find avocado's in store. Avocado Toast with Over Easy Eggs & "Everything But The Bagel" seasoning from Trader Joe's (but it in store, it's way cheaper). It takes me less than 5 minutes to put together & only a few minutes to eat. I think starting my day with a real breakfast has made it easier for me to not snack throughout the day (except for the trial process in #1), made me less hungry at lunch time (see #2 - I didn't even know when that was) & has made me overall more productive.
#7. I feel like there's less "me time" than before.
I don't think I'm the only person feeling this. I get up at 7:15, take a shower, get ready for the day, enjoy my breakfast & jump on my first call at 8:30am. Then it's go time until 5:30pm. Yes, I do get an hour lunch break. Days 1 - 5'ish, I found myself not utilizing my lunch break for myself. I would do laundry, dust, sweep, vacuum, change bed sheets, put clothes away, organize my dresser, just try to keep up on some house work. Which... was fine. But then at 5:30 when I closed my laptop, I was heading direct into "home life". By this time, the rest of the family is here & I jumped directly into cooking dinner, putting last night's dinner dishes away, getting started on dishes from today, oh - and there's moving that laundry from lunch time over to the dryer & ultimately another load of towels to wash.
I was quickly burning out. It's no one's fault but my own. Combine that with the fact that I really can't go spend time with friends at happy hour or anything like that, there's just no breaks to be had (except for the 3 hours I've spent so far watching "Tiger King" on Netflix). But I realized how much I take for granted the hour long commute I have to work every day... an hour each direction. That gives me 2 hours a day to spend time by myself, listening to music & having Z-E-R-O responsibility other than driving & hanging out in my own head. For me. I miss it. Thankfully the weather started to warm up towards the end of the week & I was realizing the negative affects & was able to get outside for some sunshine & fresh air.
#8. I needed new slippers.
I figured I'd end things on a lighter note. But it was definitely an observation I had! I had slippers, and they were fine to wear for an hour or two at night. But after wearing them for 12 hours a day, I realized they were garbage. I took full advantage of a coupon I had & picked myself up some Minnetonka Moccasins. Normally I wouldn't spend $40 on a pair of slippers, but the coupon code, free shipping plus all the money I'm saving on gas... I treated myself.
Hopefully you & your family are adjusting to this new life that we are experiencing. For those of you deemed essential employees who need to report to an office or workplace & can't NOT be around people, for those of you temporarily laid off, for those of you having to teach children every day & for those of you just uncertain, I pray for you & your family. This is definitely an experience that none of us are used to & we're learning how to work through it. At the end of the day, just be patient with one another, be kind to one another & love one another. And stay 6 foot away.