Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.Dolly Parton
For many of us, working from home every day was a distant dream. And why wouldn’t it be? With endless perks like no commuting, working in PJs, no bra wearing, ability to do laundry between conference calls, all of this had to add up to a holistic balance in life that we had only fantasized about while applying mascara in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
We would all do well to be careful what we wish for. Enter: the corona virus. With organizations and governments mandating Stay-At-Home orders, many of us were thrown into the work from home stream faster than we were prepared to navigate. Our new normal seems to be a composite of: trying to excel in our career from Zoom meetings at the kitchen table, maintaining a social life six feet apart, drinking more water than wine, exercising with canned goods and babies, texting everyone back because they know we aren’t busy — all while staying sane, healthy and happy.
Is it truly possible to achieve the holy grail of work-life balance? Do we have to reinvent ourselves to create this harmony? Or do we each find piecemeal little tips and practices to help us maintain our health, happiness and a positive outlook?
I have some truly talented, insightful and successful ladies in my Contacts
After you get out of bed, what’s the first element of your morning routine? What about it gets you moving and motivated for the day?
Lisa, 50, Project Manager, Bay Area, CA
COFFEE!!! I hate to admit it but the allure of a cup of French Press Italian Roast Coffee is what gets me moving and motivated for the day. If I had a coffee maker next to my bed I may never get up, so it is a motivation to simply make my way to the kitchen. Now with the inability to leave the house and go to the gym, I think I am actually relishing in the fact that I can’t go, so what was once a motivation, but maybe more of a responsibility or chore, is no longer on the table. I’ll probably miss it, but it hasn’t hit me yet.
People respond to stress, or even busy-ness, in a variety of ways. Your body may be doing some of these things with or without your awareness. Physical stress responses include: clinching your jaw, clicking your teeth, shallow breathing, and holding your breath. Physiological responses are
Alex, 35, Creative Technologist, Bay Area, CA
Feeding my kid! Before him, I used to have a whole morning routine: getting ready, listening to NPR, going for a walk, sipping coffee–generally taking it easy. Now instead of my alarm, I hear little coos and grunts coming through the monitor and know it’s time to get moving. The first hour and a half after I wake up is a juggle between feeding him and getting some quality playtime in, but also doing chores, feeding our animals and making coffee. Hitting the ground running every morning makes me extra productive when I do sit down to get stuff done because the momentum is already there! Plus, I want to power through so I can see him again before bedtime. These days, the sooner I get all my work done, the sooner I get back to the good stuff.
So what do you do? Create a few undisturbed minutes for yourself. I try and
Andria, 45, Freelance, Editor, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
Since I have worked from home for years, the game changer for me has been that my new “co-workers” are three teenagers who are suddenly navigating online learning. So, rather than getting up early with my husband, getting everyone moving, and bolting out the door for school drop-offs before I come home to a fairly quiet house to work, it’s that (other than my law enforcement husband) no one is leaving! So, my morning motivation has shifted greatly. I’m no longer moving at warp speed from the kitchen to the laundry room to backing out of the driveway. I am sleeping an extra 30-45 minutes, drinking coffee in bed and checking emails, then tidying the house a bit before I make my way to my home office, still in my pajamas. My motivation—though intentionally learned and sometimes forced—is the blessing of the slow-down. I get to walk, not run, through the mornings, which ultimately sets the tone for the whole interrupted, noisy, who-are-these-people-who-never-leave workday.
What are a couple of tips that keep your focus on healthy work habits?
Taryn, 34, CEO, Boutique Photo & Marketing Agency, Denver
I use a planner called “Oak Journal,” that helps to establish routine rooted in goal setting all based on a 90-day time frame. The “Best Self” journal is similar in format, wherein you start your day by journaling what you are grateful for, your goal/intention for the day and the top three priorities to keep you focused. The journal furthermore guides you to schedule out each hour of your day to ensure you’re on track and maximizing your work output. The journal can be used for both personal and professional goals, which is why I love it so much. I can track the habits I have put in place for myself to achieve my goals and hold me accountable to them!
Meals are an important part of the day. Do you prepare meals the night before as you would if you went to a physical office? What’s your go to breakfast and lunch when working from home?
Cathie, 53, Social Worker, Oregon
I still prepare my meals on the weekend similar to what I did when I went into the office. My go-to breakfast is oatmeal with blueberries and almonds. My go-to lunch is usually something I prepped over the weekend — lots of soups like chicken vegetable or asparagus. The key for me is always prepping on Sunday for the week.
What’s been your biggest challenge working from home? How are you staying in touch with colleagues and friends?
Valeska, 55, Hotel Sales, Los Angeles
Working from home is a mental thing! Adjusting to working differently, how I exercise and finding positives are among my challenges. I’ve had a set routine for years working out at the private gym facility at my work. Now that I’m working from home, my workouts are more fun. They can happen outside (with social distancing) with runs up the hills, while I enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
Working from home also has some advantages. I feel that I can focus on certain (work) projects without interruptions. And thanks to technology, my colleagues and I can still meet via Zoom.
One thing that has been especially fulfilling is joining some friends and helping some seniors shop for food to ensure they stay safe inside.