Work From Home Blues

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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? 

Career Advancement

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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