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? 

Quarantine Life Part 2: Glow Up

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With all the time we have to think and focus on what’s to come. Now is the best time to work on the things you’ve been putting off. There’s only so much television, social media, and phone conversations you can have. At some point, you have to take action. While everyone else is focusing on mundane things, you can be working on your glow up. Yes, there is no time like the present. I was moping around complaining about what I’m going to do? There’s only so much working and Netflix I can take. Besides the fact of being alive (Thank God), I have too much free time to waste. I’m not bashing anyone who may feel that surviving is good enough for them. I hope nobody feels slighted or ridiculed in any way. This post is for those people who want to glow up and need an extra incentive to do so.

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Fitness

I’ve been talking about wanting to work out again for a while. I felt the pounds coming on, and I was over it! Through the power of the Internet (via Facebook), my former boot camp coach contacted me after reading my comment about exercising. It started as a 21-day calorie quarantine crusher challenge. I’m currently on the 21-day 2.0 version, and this week I started the healthy living portion of the program. I’m addicted to working out again in a short amount of time. I’ve continuously been exercising since April 6th. I lost 4 inches so far, and I can’t believe how strong I’m becoming. I’m pushing myself like I never have before. I have more motivation behind why I’m taking this fitness journey seriously this time around. I may or may not share some time in the future. My main point is to set a realistic goal of getting into shape, and you’ll become addicted as well. Fitness has helped to improve my mood, which brings me to my next point of self-care.

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Self-Care

I speak about therapy often on this blog, so there’s no surprise why it’s apart of this post. Mental health issues are skyrocketing during this time. The self-isolation alone is enough to drive anyone crazy. Be sure to check in with yourself daily. Whether you decide to seek therapy or not, you need to have an outlet. The self-isolation isn’t the time to hold your emotions in as it can have dire consequences. You can journal as well if you don’t feel comfortable sharing with others. Anything to express how you feel will do wonders. The main point is to get rid of those negative thoughts in your head. Be careful how you speak to yourself and what you allow yourself to hear. Negative talk can seep into your brain and get into your sub-conscience. Then ultimately, it will manifest into disruptive behaviors. Now is a perfect time to work on self-care if that’s an area that needs improvement. You have loads of time to practice, so get to it!

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Career

I wrote a few posts back about my plans to get a new job this year. I started the process, but so far it hasn’t panned out. Rejection is redirection into an area I need to be. I began to look inward at my network for a job as I would like to have a regression proof career. That regardless of what’s going on in the world, I would still be able to support myself. I had two informational interviews so far, and I’m currently working on the third. I struggled to try to secure these networking opportunities before coronavirus, but now it’s happening—the exact definition of a blessing in disguise. Based on the feedback I received, I need to get additional training under my belt to aid in securing a new job. It will show future employers that I’m capable and ready for the new role. I know which training I need to take because it’s what’s required/most requested. This information is critical because, without these informational interviews, I wouldn’t have known. When the next job prospects come along, I’ll be more prepared. My biggest takeaway was if I want to get to the next level, then utilize my network. You never know who someone knows or how that one interaction can bring you closer to your dreams.

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Finances

It is sad to hear on the news about the unemployment numbers. I’m grateful I can work from home and still receive a paycheck. The quarantine shed light for me about how I need to create a better financial safety net for myself. As the old saying goes, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. I recently checked my 401(k) to see when the last time I re-balanced it. (If you aren’t familiar with the term, research it.) That is something that you should check periodically. You have to change your elections to receive the maximum benefit. Any safety net you create has to be under constant review. The safety nets include (in addition to 401(k)) Roth IRA, savings account, CD, stocks and bonds, 529 plans, Simple IRA, SEP IRA, traditional IRA, and Roth 401(k) to name a few. I’m not trying to provide any financial advice. This information is provided strictly as informational, and it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you and your family. Having these safety nets removes the worry about what will happen in the event of an economic downturn. Even if you aren’t in a position to participate now, you can still learn for later use. The more you know, the more informed financial decisions you can make in the future.

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Your idea of glowing up can be completely different from mine, but you get the picture. It is a blessing to have this much free time on your heads. You can concentrate on all the things that you swept under the rug. Glowing up isn’t limited to clothing/appearance (I have purchased new clothes, so stay tuned world) but about what you’re feeding your mind and soul. I’m going to leave you with a quote my fitness coach told me. “If you don’t feel like doing something, then now is the best time to start.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Now go out there and glow up like a diamond!

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Don’t forget to check out the discussion question before you go, and I’ll see you in the next post.

How do you plan on glowing up during this quarantine?