Strange days indeed with things, rules and “normal” changing daily. There are a lot of intense emotions, anxiety and stress flying around, whether we want to give in to these or not. Life as we know it is changing fast and here is your Survival Guide for Working From Home.
This is my fourth year of working from home (when not in clinic), growing an online business – through online appointments and online programs.
Over this time, I’ve learned a few things (including massive gratitude for school and teachers) and have navigated holidays, travelling, kids, a hyperactive dog, and sharing an office with my beloved other…until we discovered the brilliance of co working spaces. Separately of course!
I have a lot to be grateful for including…
My health and that of my family, having access to uncrowded beaches and bushland, a virtual support and mentoring team, an office with a door…
I also mostly have a positive mindset. I can see that the glass is half full and that this will not last forever, and while business has slowed, the hard work I have put into growing my community and my business will pay off at some point in the future. I also know that I have a lot of value to offer and the knowledge and ability to support people through these times.
Things will be lean and scary for a while. That’s OK, you can do this. As a start up online business, this isn’t new for me.
But…for those of you who haven’t navigated working this way, I acknowledge that it’s not easy, that it’s overwhelming and also the more frustrated you get with the tech, the less likely it is to work. Every time.
I’ve learned some hard lessons over the last few years about how to survive while working from home, so thought I would share to give you some comfort in knowing you are never alone, there is always support (feel free to message me anytime) and that this is temporary and will pass, be it weeks or months. Here’s my survival guide for working from home.
Survival Guide for Working From Home
Take Care Of Yourself First
Put your own oxygen mask on first. It’s not selfish to make sure you stay as mentally and physically healthy as possible. It’s a necessity. I urge you to take care of yourself first. If you go down, you won’t be able to support anyone else.
Conserve Your Energy for What Matters
I have three kids, with vastly different personalities and emotional needs. They are all very social and active, so for them to be without friends and sports and activities and training is going to be hard.
My first responsibility is to be a mother and to show up in a way that I am proud of every single day regardless of what’s going on in the world, which is SOOOO much easier to do when they are at school all day and at activities in the afternoon.
Now they are home with me. They have their own feelings which I must help them navigate. They are bored. They fight. They need attention. They instantly respond to my state of mind and mood, so I need to do the work daily (hourly) to make sure that my energy exudes love, compassion and joy. (NOTE…I did NOT say endless board games or entertainment!)
Mothering them now requires 10X more energy than it did two weeks ago.
Despite being very social, I am also highly empathic and an introvert. I NEED alone time. I need quiet. I need to have full days where I can do my own things to fill my own cup. I don’t have that luxury right now.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR SANITY:
Noise-cancelling headphones for you and the kids (I wear mine when working, they wear theirs when listening to dumb annoying things I don’t want to hear like those stupid Tic Tok songs and endless YouTube videos)
Walks alone if your kids are old enough to be left
Carpool karaoke all by yourself. Literally singing at the top of your lungs “ALL BY MY SELF…. JUST WANNA BE, ALL BY MY SELF…”
Separate the children on different floors or in different rooms of the house (we’re calling this in-house social distancing)
I also have a friend who swears by Fake Showers (this one has saved her sanity more times than she can count) Pretend you’re taking a shower, turn it on, let the water run (I know… water/environment, we’ve spoken about it) and sit in silence in the bathroom, read a book, do whatever you want. Leave the bathroom a towel on. They’ll never know. (Try it. Thank her later)
STAY IN YOUR BUBBLE
We’ve stopped watching the news, especially on commercial stations. The hype, sensationalism and the drama serves no one. Get your information from credible sources that serve up the facts.
I noticed that my bubble was being penetrated because all anyone can talk about is COVID-19 and my anxiety was escalating. I turned off the news and instantly relaxed. I want to stay updated with facts, not get caught up in the drama.
I am in charge of how I feel and now more than ever I need to keep my bubble-tight.
TIPS FOR YOU:
Don’t watch the news unless it’s critical to do so. (Don’t listen to the commentary, there’s no point, it’s all opinion, not fact)
Get your information from trusted sources
Avoid going down the rabbit hole with friends and family
Disengage from social media if it’s triggering you
Know that it’s ok to disconnect and live in a bubble and trust that if you need to know something, someone will tell you
FOOD & HYDRATION
Now is not the time to plunge headfirst into comfort food and a bottle of wine, as tempting as that may be. It’s never been more important to strengthen your immune system and focus on your food prep, create blood sugar/hormone balancing meals and hydration – You have the time!
Keeping your blood sugar stable and ensuring that you support your stress hormones is critical.
If you’re not used to being at home all day, take notice of how much you’re snacking, when and why.
Make sure your meals are nourishing and satiating enough that you don’t (physically) feel the need to snack.
If you find yourself craving foods, then that’s a good indicator you need to support your hormones and/or support your mental wellbeing.
TIPS FOR YOU:
● Meal plan and prep for yourself
● Have meals and snacks set out in individual containers
● Always have a reusable water bottle at your workstation
● Include different sources of hydration throughout the day
○ Water with lemon and sea salt
○ Herbal Tea
○ Greens powder
○ Mineral water
○ Water with crushed fruit
TIPS FOR THE FAMILY:
● Make lunches the night before as if they were going to school and allow them to self manage their intake
● Have a snack drawer they can access with preferred options
● Use a muffin tin and fill each cup with different snack options so they have a variety to choose from throughout the day
● Fill up water bottles with for them to consume throughout the day so you’re not
constantly being asked to get them a drink (because OMG)
Bake healthy treats with them so they have special snacks
BE IN COMMUNITY GROUPS WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
Given that we’re all socially distancing, now is the time to be in virtual communities with like-minded people.
It’s important for your mental wellbeing to surround yourself with people who have the same or similar mindset as you, where you can support each other, lift each other up and share resources.
Now is also the time to leave the communities or groups of people who do not have the mindset you are trying to maintain. (Goodbye Sunny Coast Community page)
TIPS FOR YOU:
● Facebook groups where the values, content, communication and resources are helpful
● Zoom with colleagues, friends and family (long before this pandemic I would have Zoom dates with friends who live around the country)
● Facetime and Facetime groups
● Group chats via Facebook messenger or text
● Slack (we have a #random slack channel for my team where we’ve been posting funny, helpful content to uplift each other)
● What’s App
TIPS FOR THE FAMILY:
● Teach your family how to use Zoom (we’re planning a virtual zoom dinner with my parents)
● Facebook/Instagram/Snap Chat messenger for kids (it’s helping my teens keep in touch with their friends as they are craving social interaction now more than ever)
● Online games where you can play against friends (I was so glad when fortnite ran its course but it has a purpose!)
SURRENDER & SLOW DOWN
It’s ok to slow down. It’s ok to do nothing. It’s ok to be productive in other ways.
This is what I’m calling ‘forced relaxation’. I am used to moving a mile a minute between the kids, work and after school stuff. With three kids and before and after school activities most days, having nothing to do in the evenings is a BIG change for us. It’s taking time to adjust.
Earlier dinner, books, 80’s movies and Netflix help.
BUSINESS IS NOT AS USUAL
Yes, I have an established online business (for which I am eternally grateful) but unfortunately, no one is immune to the economic effects this is going to have. It can be really challenging to show up on social media, for my audience and for my clients when I feel uncertain about my financial future.
GET ON THE SAME PAGE
Depending on your family dynamics, you might be working from home with a full house. One of the ways that I, and my colleagues who have children or a partner who also works from home, has navigated this challenge is to have clearly defined spatial boundaries and a schedule, just like you would at a regular office.
TIPS FOR YOU:
● Have a family meeting where you create dedicated workspaces in the home and work in bursts if you can. What that means is that you work in shorter work periods, especially if you have younger children who can’t self-manage for long periods of time.
● Talk about respect for work boundaries and how to problem solve
● Put hours on the door so that everyone else knows when you’ll be done so they don’t interrupt
What this looks like for me is getting some beach time in with my kids’ (and the dog) first thing in the morning. Then working for 90 minutes. I do that on repeat. It’s not ideal but it helps to avoid feeling frustrated by interruptions.
Another important thing I do that has really worked for me, although my kids are older now, is to have a conversation about what working from home is and how it’s important to have respect for my work boundaries. Just because I’m physically in the house doesn’t mean that I’m available for every glass of water needed or to break up the dumb fights they’re having.
I want them to feel like they’re contributing to my work efforts, so I set up a reward system where they earn points based on their behaviour throughout the day. They pick their prize ahead of time, so I have something to leverage. It’s not a perfect system, but it works.
A PRODUCTIVE DAY STARTS THE NIGHT BEFORE
I have a short night time routine that allows me to set myself up for a successful day the night before. Given that you might be working with a full house, it would be helpful to review your upcoming day the night before so you can plan ahead, should you need quiet time for meetings or because you need to get into the flow and concentrate.
MY NIGHT TIME ROUTINE:
● Review the schedule for the upcoming day with the family
● Organize the people in my house so they’re ready to go for the morning
● Make sure I’ve blocked off time to eat
● Block off time for 30 minutes of movement (might be in 10-minute increments)
● Write out my top 3 must-do action tasks for the next day
● Do a brain dump
HAVE A POWERFUL MORNING ROUTINE
I swear by my morning routine. I need to wake up before my kids. I crave alone time. I credit my morning routine for saving my sanity because it allows me to feel like I have control over my day and not like I’m always running behind.
With a full house, it might be a good idea to wake up earlier so that you can get the most important work tasks done before the house wakes up and the day starts. I know that waking up earlier for a lot of people isn’t ideal, but it will help you to feel much less stressed and frustrated if you can check off some of your work to-dos before the rest of the house gets up.
Being of service to others exerts a lot of energy throughout the day and if I don’t replace that energy with alone time, that’s when I start to feel burnt out.
It’s ok to give yourself alone time and if that needs to happen at 5:00 am, so be it.
CREATE A DEDICATED WORKSPACE
Even though I’ve worked from home for years, I’ve never worked from my bed or my bedroom. Although it might work for some, I feel like it does something to my levels of focus and productivity because I associate my bedroom with rest, relaxation and sleep. Plus working from bed hurts my back.
I move around and work from my dining room table, my outdoor table and now that the kids are off school for at least the next 3 weeks (I also heard a rumour of 4-6 months Eeek!) l’ve moved my workspace permanently to the office upstairs, which also happens to have a door.
This will also leave the dining room available as a “school space”.
I can’t ask my kids to be quiet all day long and them bouncing around my house while I’m trying to work with clients is very annoying. It will save me from turning into a scary/angry mum for the next few weeks.
If you don’t already have a dedicated workspace in your home, create one, which might mean having to move some furniture around to accommodate a remote workspace that has a door you can close.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR AT-HOME WORKSPACE:
● Ensure that you have a comfortable chair and desk to work from so that you’re not adding more stress to your body
● Avoid using direct overhead lights and instead, use ambient light that can illuminate the entire space
● Use noise-cancelling headphones so that you’re not hearing all of the house sounds that could be distracting
● Avoid harsh scents and other environmental stimuli
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU
Let’s just acknowledge that this situation isn’t ideal. It’s frustrating, annoying and doesn’t promote the most productive workflow. You might be working in shorter bursts, get interrupted more and need to work at night or early in the morning. To keep your momentum and survive working from home, keep these in mind:
A POWERFUL VISION
If you don’t have a powerful vision for your business and life, now is the time to create one. Reading your big reason WHY will help focus and centre you. It will remind you WHY you’ve chosen to do this and help to pull you out of the Darkness.
USE FACTS, NOT EMOTION
Now is not the time to let your emotions make decisions. Continue to do the things in your business you know work until the data tells you otherwise. If your content stops getting engagement, then you likely have a messaging issue so adjust accordingly. If you’re ads stop working then adjust your ads. Avoid letting fear and scarcity stop you from doing the things that you know work.
WELL BALANCED WOMAN ONLINE FB GROUP
I created this group for all women. Initially it was about balanced hormones…but has become so much more than that. Balancing the conversation about health and hormones with sharing books we’ve read, or what we’re watching on Netflix. Balancing family with work, balancing blood sugar, balancing the piece of cake, or glass of wine if you want it. In addition to all the hormone and health related topics.
Make sure you join. There is a ton of getting started content, search through the video and blog section. I’ve added years’ worth of free content. Also, make sure to use the search feature and type into the search whatever you’re looking for.
You will prevail. I know you will. Because you don’t have a choice. Sit with all of the feelings as they happen, allow them to come but don’t live in them. Protect your brain, your energy and your heart. Focus on your future. Make fast decisions. They don’t need to be perfect. It’s ok. Now is not the time to overthink. Take massive imperfect action AND rest when you need to.
You were made for this. I’m here to support you. We’re in this together!