Work From Home Blues

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

I’m not sure if I shared this information with all of you. I’ve been working from home since March 13th. After I reveal this information immediately, the response is, “Wow, how are you managing that?” Contrary to popular belief, I am an introvert. I know shocker but not necessarily to those who know me personally. I had to learn how to navigate this extroverted world and let me tell you; it’s not easy. My fellow introverts will be able to relate to that last statement. Overall, working from home takes its toll on you regardless if you’re an introvert or not. At some point, you’ll miss your co-workers, not having to work as hard (basically, you’ll feel guilty for putting in less than 100%), the little joys such as happy hour after work, and some shred of normalcy. If your curious about how I overcame the work from home blues, then keep reading. I came up with four steps that have been instrumental to me during this pandemic. Of course, more can be added, and feel free to share them in the comment section below. 

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Update Your Surroundings

Nothing says boring like your uninspiring makeshift office space. If your overall area is dull and in desperate need of a makeover, then make it happen. You can’t be surprised if your brain is in a constant state of depression if your workspace looks like a horror movie (I love horror; btw, this is just an example). I’m a big believer in your surroundings do impact your mood. For you to feel amazing, your workspace needs to be unique to you. Add your favorite things to your work area. For example, travel items, memorabilia items, novelty items, or whatever tickles your fancy. The point of this is to spruce up your workspace and to have you love your new office. Plus, if we’re going to be home for a while, you need to love your new digs.

Photo by Mental Health America (MHA) on Pexels.com

Take Productive Breaks

There is this tendency to work like crazy when working from home. I believe subconsciously; we want our employers to know we’re working hard and not wasting time. Unfortunately, what comes with this line of thinking is the lack of awareness to take breaks. I remember countless times during the beginning of the pandemic when I would work past lunchtime. I would look up, and it was 4 o’clock, and I remembered I didn’t have lunch today. Let me tell you those days are OVER! I have a recurring meeting for my lunchtime. Sometimes the time may change, given my workload that day. However, I have lunch every day, as expected. No more thinking I need to get work done because nothing is worth your health. Depending on how the day is going, you may need to take additional 15-minute breaks. If so, don’t be afraid to schedule those times as well. We’re all trying to survive this pandemic the best that we can. Being a workhorse isn’t the wave, so don’t jump on it.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Look Into Training

One of the most incredible things about this pandemic is the ability to work on something that we had on the back burner. I know for a fact there has to be a new area you wanted to try or training that you keep shifting from month to month. There’s no time like the present to seize the day! Working on yourself during this time will set you up nicely when either a new project comes up or returning to the office. For example, I recently completed training at work, and now I have an opportunity to work on a new project. If I didn’t take the opportunity to gain this knowledge, then I couldn’t be apart of this new endeavor. You never know what opportunities can arise from taking on new challenges. Even if it doesn’t pay off right away, it can help with adding further details to your resume. Given the current economic climate, the more skills you have, the better. These skills can be the reason why you’re in high demand by employers. Being in a position to demand salary and place of employment is the ultimate goal. 

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

Take Your PTO

I understand your response is, “Where am I going?” If that is your first reaction, then you’re missing the entire point. The pandemic may have put a dampen on things travel-wise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy local activities. Given the extra emphasis that COVID-19 has on mental health, breaks are more critical than ever. Working every week with no breaks is not recommended pandemic or not. Why are you letting this time stop you from enjoying yourself? Take time to spend with family, friends, and, most importantly, with yourself. Taking time away from work will cause you to be more productive once you log back on. Life is stressful enough, so don’t add to it but not taking time off work. Work will be there once you return. You truly aren’t missing anything, so get out there and LIVE!

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

I have implemented all four of these steps during the past seven months, which changed my life. I was ready to throw the laptop out the window because, at some point, enough is enough. There’s only so much a person can take with the isolation that working from home can cause. I got to the realization that I missed my co-workers, and we started having virtual lunches. Those lunches were game-changers as it made me feel connected in a small way. That made me realize how much in life we take for granted and how it an instant it can disappear. Hopefully, these tips will help you as you move forward in this new work from home environment. 

Be sure to check out the discussion question below before you go, and I’ll chat with you in the next blog. 

What tips are you using to overcome the work from home blues? 

Importance of Setting Boundaries

pexels-jens-890774

One thing that I have always struggled with is setting boundaries. I was too busy with being concerned about people liking me and avoiding conflict. Now that I’m self-reflecting, I have realized now more than ever how essential setting boundaries are. Not only does it help prevent conversations that make you uncomfortable, but it also keeps your privacy to yourself. The fewer people that know your business, the less likely you have to worry about information getting out. I came up with four steps to help with setting new boundaries within your relationships.

Decide Which Boundaries to Set
Before you can set boundaries, you need to determine what your limits need to be. Get a pen and paper to write down your limits and to whom each category represents. For example, finances and dating are off-limits to parents for discussion. Follow this exercise for others, such as friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. Doing this will help with oversharing information as well. Conversations should be a dance, and if it’s turning into a solo act, you’re sharing too much. Having boundaries will help you with not sharing details before it’s safe to do so.

pexels-frans-van-heerden-632470

Start Implementation of Your Boundaries
Now here comes the fun part of implementing the new boundaries that you set. It won’t be easy at first, but people will learn to adjust over time. You will most likely get backlash from folks closest to you but stick with it. People who love you will respect your boundaries after some time. Start with someone who will be least resistant to your limits. That will give you the confidence to continue down this new path. Don’t give up easily if people start to provide you with a hard time. People will try to see how far they can go, but enforcing your boundaries will let them that’s not possible.

pexels-bich-tran-636246

Continue to Reinforce Your Boundaries
The best way to keep people on board with your boundaries is to continue to enforce them. Once someone tries to overstep, you have to shut it down immediately. Also, people need to know there are consequences to their actions. For example, if you told someone that dating was off-limits and they continue to push, the result is that they don’t get to speak with you. I understand that sounds harsh, but you have to put your foot down. People need to respect the boundaries you have set forth. However, if you don’t consistently enforce your limits, people will walk all over you. You have to be intentional for people to understand why your boundaries are vital for them to follow.

pexels-cqfavocat-613508

Reassess Your Boundaries as Needed
As life changes, so should your boundaries. There may be new topics to add or old ones to remove. Whichever way it goes, continue to reevaluate your boundaries. Make sure you do this often to avoid conflict when a topic comes up that you weren’t expecting. For example, a newly married couple will receive unsolicited advice from different people. It can even become overwhelming at times. When a new life event like this occurs, your boundaries need to include it. That way, people will understand that every new life event is not up for discussion. If you do decide to share, it will be your choice to do so.

pexels-august-de-richelieu-4427547

Setting boundaries can sound scary if you never did it before. It can seem like a difficult undertaking at first, but it’s worth it in the end. I recently started implementing boundaries, and it’s working out great. I’m not forcing myself to discuss or do things I’m not necessarily comfortable doing. The beautiful thing about boundaries is that it helped me improve my self-care and improve my overall mental health. Boundaries are helpful because it sets expectations of what topics you will share and which ones are off-limits. Don’t look at it as a bad thing, but something beneficial in the long run.

pexels-pixabay-258063

Be sure to check out the discussion questions below before you go, and I’ll chat with you in the next blog.

Do you have boundaries set up? What type of challenges did you face while implementing your limits? 

Career Advancement

access-adult-african-american-woman-business-1181335

I’m at a crossroads currently within my career. I want to move to the next level but unsure of how to get there. My current team doesn’t have any job opportunities at the moment. That is furthering my confusion on the next steps that I should take. I had to sit with myself to come up with solutions to improve my current situation. I came up with a list of four things that I employed right now to help improve my career prospects. I hope that this list works for you, or in the comment section below, you can tell me what tips you will use or which ones you currently use.

Hire a Career Coach

beautiful-businesswomen-career-caucasian-601170

Hiring a career coach may or may not work for everyone, but it was a game-changer for me. It has been years since I last applied for positions. I wasn’t sure what employers were looking for in terms of a resume. I needed help updating my resume properly, interviewing skills, job searches, and working on past issues that could impact me from getting hired (confidence & mental health issues). A lot has changed since I last interviewed, and the knowledge that I gained was a tremendous help. My resume look 100% times better. That reminds me that I need to make an update to my Linkedln page to reflect the recent changes I made. I started going on job interviews. I haven’t gotten the jobs that I’ve wanted, but I’m making significant progress. I know the right position will come along, but in the meantime, I won’t stop looking for the next opportunity.

Updated My Wardrobe

woman-sitting-on-chair-while-leaning-on-table-871494

You know what they say dress for success or dress for the job you want. Making new tweaks to my clothes not only empowered me gave me new-found confidence but also people took me more seriously. Let’s be honest people judge your appearance. Based on your clothes, if you don’t look presentable, then you’re perceived as unreliable and disingenuous. As superficial as it sounds, if you don’t dress the part, then you won’t get the part. With that in mind, don’t give anyone any reason to use anything against you. There are plenty of budget-friendly places you can use to update your wardrobe as necessary.

Invest in Yourself

bitcoins-and-u-s-dollar-bills-730547

I started to educate myself while reading more books and looking into certifications to further my career. One book that helped me the most is called ” 7 Healthy Habits of Highly Effective People.” I realized that I needed to make myself better for this next chapter in my life. I need to work on my time management skills and setting my goals/expectations more effectively. If you need more information on this, there’s so much information available at your fingertips. There’s no excuse for working yourself to exhaustion when you could be bettering yourself in the process. Don’t be afraid to change things about yourself that may be holding you back. We all have to be continually improving ourselves as that’s what’s going to help us win.

Ask for Honest Feedback

two-woman-chatting-1311518

I understand that harsh criticism from others can be triggering. However, if we don’t receive honest feedback, we won’t be able to make adjustments. For example, the feedback I received over a year ago from a review stated I needed to work on my tone when I would speak with people at work. Unfortunately, microaggression is a real thing (research that if you aren’t familiar with the term), so when someone who looks like me says something that can appear aggressive, it’s out of context. If I were a man, it would be an utterly different story. I realized this could be holding me back from moving forward. It took a year to work on this, but I’m pleased to report that in my latest review, my efforts paid off. It was a good feeling to know that my hard work was acknowledged. Had I not asked for the feedback, I would’ve still been doing something wrong. Behind close doors, that would’ve been the reason for me not to achieve a promotion. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but doing the work on the back end is the difference between advancement vs. stagnation. You want to put your best foot forward, and you need to know if anything is preventing that from occurring.

Let’s get the discussion going. Let me know in the comment section below what your thoughts are. What steps will you take, or what steps have you taken to make improvements?

time-for-change-sign-with-led-light-2277784

The Meaning of Life

asphalt-automobile-beach-1118448
I think about it often to what the meaning of life is all about. I understand that this statement is cliche, but I still wonder about it often. There has to be more to life than work, bills, and debt. Life has to be more than getting up doing mundane things daily and not having a real purpose. The reason why I’ve been thinking about this is due to the latest episode of Pose. *Spoiler alert* One of the main characters, Candy, is murdered in a run-down motel room. The episode featured Candy coming back as a ghost and speaking to a few of the main characters. One of the things she said to Angel was to live your life and don’t have any regrets. I feel that to be free in life; you have to live it to the fullest. When you are long gone, do you want to be remembered for what you accomplished or how you enjoyed your life? You can be alive but not doing what you want will kill you long before you die physically.

bright-candle-clipboard-811575

One of the things I started to do was manifest what I want and allow the universe to make things happen for me. I stated that at the beginning of this year that I would travel and go out more. I have made both of these things happen so far. I have been enjoying life and living it up! I have already experienced things that I could only dream of, and it paid off. As Will Smith said, “The other side of fear is outside of your comfort zone.” I took this saying to heart, and I’m noticing significant results. Also, I stated that this is the year that I would finally get the promotion I’ve been wanting. So far, I’ve been on four interviews and praying that this last one will be my opportunity. However, if it doesn’t happen, it won’t stop my shine. Whatever is for me won’t pass me. At the same time, you have to put yourself out there for opportunities to come your way. You can’t sit on the sidelines and wonder why what you want isn’t happening. The universe won’t grant your wishes if you don’t put in the work and put your best foot forward.

adolescence-cute-dress-944762

I understand that it’s easier said than done to stop listening to the naysayers and live your life to the fullest. Of course, people will call you crazy for what you’re doing. You must realize that once you stop caring, what others say life becomes so much easier. The main person that you should be focusing on is you. Other people will feel threatened by the fact that you’re taking life by the horns and how comfortable it makes you. Most people don’t know how to deal with that as it’s not something that they experience daily. They’re too busy complaining about why things aren’t happening for them or being negative about everything in life. It’s not about why things happen, but how you react to it. Remember if at any point in your life you don’t like the story then change the narrative. You’re the author of your life, and you can change the story when necessary.

art-bible-chapter-320266

Get out there and live more!