7 Things I Learned Working From Home In The 1st Year
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Working from home is the new normal.
While many will argue that traditional office space has long turned redundant and the workforce was becoming increasingly long-distance anyway, the change was still far too sharp and extreme for the majority of people who have found their schedules distorted and work habits redundant in the wake of this new reality.
Maybe those who say that traditional office space was becoming redundant do have some truth on their side. After all, an increasing number of jobs are becoming fully reliant on electronics.
Nowadays, if you have a working computer and access to a decent internet connection – you’re likely to be able to do your job from any part of the world. Many capitalized on that ability long before the pandemics – freelance is becoming the ever more popular choice of career due to the freedom of being able to work whenever and wherever.
But freelancers who’ve found working from home suits them and upended their lives, also tend to easily forget – they had the freedom of choice. They wanted to work from home. Maybe some of them even had to fight and struggle, before they managed to find enough work to pay all the bills without having to stress about whether their income would keep steadily trickling in.
But most of us, who’ve been sent home in the wake of the pandemic? We never had that freedom.
Change is always valuable
There are undoubtedly many, who’ve found working from home suits them – that it decreases their stress, increases their productivity, helps them organize their time better. For others, leaving the structured office environment is a struggle that impedes their very ability to work.
If you’re one of those who struggle, then you should remember one thing: change is always valuable because it brings a new experience. Even when that change isn’t positive, it is a learning experience, and learning something new is never bad.
In fact, maybe that is exactly what you needed. I found I did, even if I struggled with long-distance working at the beginning of it all.
Looking back now, all in all, I’m glad I had the experience. And now I want to share it with you.
Here are the 7 things I learned working from home in the 1st year
1. Keep a regular work schedule
One of the biggest problems many newbie long-distance workers encounter is that their work schedule becomes distorted. If your official workday ends the moment you exit the office building – at home that boundary seems to have been erased. You’re essentially always at the office.
This makes it hard to organize the work schedule. In the beginning, I often found myself working up to 9-10PM, simply to get a task done. Something I would split into two parts while working at the office (unless, of course, there was a deadline looming), I would work on long past reasonable time, because stopping felt like I wasn’t finishing the work.
Now I boot up my work computer at 10AM and am done by 6PM, keeping the same hours I did at the office.
2. Boundaries matter – don’t be afraid to set them
Not only you, yourself, will have trouble sticking to the regular schedule, but likely your managers and clients as well. Time becomes distorted for them as well – and they’re bound to call after hours, because… well… to them it won’t be after hours. You’re home all hours every day – so that means you’re available for work all hours every day, right?
Set boundaries with those who demand you do work after hours. Don’t be rude, of course (I’m not advising you to lose your job here, after all) but be firm.
“Can you do something really quickly?” Well no, I’m sorry but I cannot. I’ll make sure to do it first thing tomorrow.
3. Good food should be a priority
Food is important – maybe ever more important now. Which is why you should actually prioritize what you’re eating. If you eat like crap, you’ll feel like crap, that’s true, but if all you eat is healthy food… you’ll feel like crap too.
Food shouldn’t just satisfy your body or your mood, it should be a balance. Yes, you should eat your fruits and veggies – but you should also eat chips and chocolate, and not feel like you’ve committed a crime when you do.
Now, more than ever, it’s fine to spend money on takeout, if you can afford it.
4. It’s okay to cry sometimes
It’s not stupid. It’s not weak. We’re humans and it’s normal to cry when we feel like crap. Don’t feel bad about it.
5. Outings make it better
The biggest mental burden of working at home is the never-changing environment. Go work in a coffee shop. Go work in a park. Find a place that makes you feel good and visit it to work from time to time.
Change up your environment to curb the feeling of being trapped. After all, that’s the reason #1 most freelancers choose to do what they do – the freedom of being able to work from wherever they want. Working from home doesn’t have to mean literally working from home. At least not all the time.
6. Talking helps
There are thousands of people out there who are feeling stressed and anxious about what’s going on in the world.
Talk about it. With your friends, with your family, with co-workers even. It might feel like you shouldn’t burden them with your problems in these hard times, but that’s what a support system is – you burden others with your problems, and in turn, offer a listening ear for them to burden you with theirs.
Yes, even if it calls for the cheesy cliché lines in the vein of “I’m always here for you”.
7. Self-care can be brutal. Do it anyway
Here’s what many seem to misunderstand about self-care: it’s not about the pampering. Though sometimes it can be.
Yes, when you’re feeling stressed and don’t want to cook, you should order take-out from that one restaurant you like. Yes, face masks can be very nice, even if they’re pricey.
But that’s not what the essence of self-care is about.
It’s about digging yourself out of the bed and taking a shower, even when you’d rather sleep another half an hour. It’s about taking a lunch break and eating a nourishing meal. It’s about visiting a dentist even if the idea makes you shudder with horror. It’s about asking for help with the task from your superiors, even when it makes you feel stupid.
Self-care is, paradoxically, about taking care of your needs, no matter how big or small, even when you really, really don’t want to. Even when it feels like it makes you weak and stupid. Even at the expense of comfort.
We’ve seemed to forgotten that. If there was ever a time to re-learn, it’s now.