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Work from Home Redux

I originally wrote this post in late March last year as I was settling into what I thought would be a very temporary situation. It was about finding my groove and figuring out the best way to manage this "work from home for now" thing. It has been a year, folks!

And I have to ask... how is it going? This temporary working from home plan? Are you getting what you need to get done? Or are you stressing because you feel disconnected in your isolation? Are you distracted by the other (maybe little)people that are home with you now too? Are you trying to multi-task by doing laundry, cleaning baseboards and listening to a webinar? Same questions as last year, but, whoa, what a difference a year makes, right?

My sister has commandeered one of her extra bedrooms upstairs and made it into her office, replete with desk, ergonomic chair, file cabinet, printer, cellphone and VPN, courtesy of her employer. She did this several months ago when she realized they probably weren't going to get back to the office until at least the summer. Now it looks longer. But her retired husband and the dog were driving her batsh*t when she was downstairs. So much happier now that she has a quiet space.

As for me, I have been feeling disgruntled as of late and I wasn't sure why. I sit at my desk in the living room, which faces out onto the street and I get to see all the deliveries to my home and my neighbors. The sun shines through lately and the snow was beautiful to look at, even more so when I knew I didn't have to drive anywhere. Bonus, yet I also noted, no more snow days, either. Things have shifted.

So what was bugging me? I think it was too much time at the same desk, same window, same home, same street. Groundhog Day. It was just too much the same. Anyone else feel like this?

The solution I hit upon is this. I have an office on High Street, in Mount Holly, that I used for coaching and massage services. Since I wasn't offering any bodywork any longer and my coaching is done primarily online anymore, the only thing I have been using the office for is making my videos and hosting my webinars. I have a lease which I must honor and I haven't been able to find the right fit yet for a sublet. If you have an interest or know of someone who does, send them my way.

It occurred to me that the best way out of my malaise was to do something different. This is something that I teach my clients in our coaching sessions. To try a new food, a new exercise regime, or explore a book or movie that you might ordinarily bypass. All of these make you more present, more mindful and less likely to sleepwalk through your day or life. Be curious and get out of your rut.

I regularly host webinars on different health-related topics such as Tonglen meditation, Intermittent Fasting and eating Keto. In fact, I have one coming up this Wednesday at 8PM on Keto, if you would like to learn something new.

Starting this Monday morning I will be working from home, from my office. The benefits are:

  1. a change of environment is good for my brain

  2. walking to and from work each day, getting in my daily walk

  3. no mindless snacking

  4. staying focused on the task at hand and not getting distracted

  5. I have a yoga mat and weights set up in there - no excuses

  6. I can walk around the shops during my lunch break and not feel so isolated

I am invigorated by this change of pace and can't wait to get up tomorrow and put things into action.

Now, not every one has an extra bedroom or office in which to create space for change, I know that. I am just suggesting you get creative and use what you have available to you. If you are still having a tough time managing your days at home, I have a few recommendations for you, starting with these:

1) Prep the night before

2) Set the stage

3) Take regular timed breaks

4) Stretch, do some exercise, go outside and take a walk

5) Connect with others in a meaningful way

A little planning goes a long way. Take a look at your online calendar the night before and make sure you are ready for an early morning meeting on zoom or by phone. Map out your day just like you would at work, by scheduling your tasks and your breaks. Write it down (in pencil) on a paper calendar where you can see it from your workspace to keep you on track. This should take a whopping five minutes a night, but it will save you so much time the next day. Remember to use your mornings for creative or detailed work, as you are just naturally more focused then.

What do I mean by setting the stage? Very simply, have a well-defined workspace carved out that has what you need to get things done. A laptop or PC, with printer, good lighting and a comfortable chair, for starters. Paper, post-its, a nice big cup to put your morning coffee or tea in, and a jug of water nearby.

Additionally, you may want to add the following to really get you in the zone:

  • An aromatherapy diffuser to scent the air

  • Some essential oils (peppermint and orange are a good combo for revving up your energy, while lavender and frankincense create a more soothing atmosphere – depends on what you are working on).

  • Plants or flowers

  • Background music (classical is great)

I don’t know about you but if I sit too long, my a** aches. Yep, I get really stiff sitting in one spot, in one position for a length of time. One of the most beneficial things I have started to do is set a timer on my google calendar to pop up to remind me to move.

And more importantly, I do. I have some ankle weights, hand weights and a yoga mat nearby and I quickly get into exercise mode when I get a notification. I might do some bicep curls, squats or planks for about five minutes and then stretch a bit on the mat -done. During lunch breaks, I now go on a walk either outside or inside depending on the weather. If inside there are some great walking workouts you can do for anywhere from 12 to twenty minutes. Or better yet, join me for my monthly walk in the park. We have a great group of friendly regulars and I would love you to join us.

Number 3 and 4 are kind of co-mingled together because breaks are perfect to get a little exercise in, that leaves you feeling more alert, focused – and fit, each day that you do it.

It is also important to take a lunch break, which some of us don’t really do at work. You know who you are. You power through some task while eating cheese crackers or a Pop tart. Not good. Take the time while at home to make yourself a healthy lunch and eat it away from your desk. If your desk is the dining room table, please move your lunch time break to the kitchen. It is so important to take the mental break too. Spend some time chatting with a loved one or catching up on a novel. Switch gears from work.

No one is happy to be sequestered at home against our will, however many of us are finding some great benefits such as spending time with a beloved pet. Your dog, cat or guinea pig is really enjoying all of the attention you are able to give them by being home and loves you right back. An unexpected bonus of connecting is reduced blood pressure too.

Last, but certainly not least, reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, just to say “Hi, I was thinking about you. Are you OK?” Especially your older friends and family you might have normally visited, but now can’t. They are still really feeling the isolation and could use a boost.

There is a silver lining to even the most daunting of challenges. I hope it helps to revisit these tips and if you need more help, consider joining me for my 3 week health transformation online group coaching, starting March 21.

Have a productive and safe week, and if you like this post, please share. Thank you!

Coach Michelle


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