I’ve been home-based for just over three years now and it’s hard work. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t telling the whole truth. It takes persistence and patience and self-compassion, but most of all time to fine-tune what works.
This started life as ‘a day in the life’ blog, but then I realised there isn’t a magic formula. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable days is part of the learning process. My daily schedule chops and changes according to workload and what’s going on in my personal life because home is my office.
I’m an advocate of good intentions and trying to stick with them. I write a daily ‘to do’ list. I meditate and practice yoga most mornings, I exercise and take regular breaks outside in nature to help alleviate stress and anxiety. I’ve found champions and allies in brilliant work colleagues, explored new online communities and grown my external networks; connecting virtually and physically as regularly as possible. Homeworking is an ongoing, evolving project that requires continued effort and adjustments to keep on track.
Managing your mood is the hardest lesson to learn about homeworking. I’ve had to connect better with how I’m feeling and find ways to shift low moods. At home, you don’t have anyone around to make you laugh, or office chit-chat to lift your spirits. When something goes wrong you can’t offload with a good old moan and problems can sit with you and fester if you don’t find ways to shift them.
Science tells us that emotions are deeply connected to the physical body and we can change mood through sensation and movement. I’ve tried freezing cold showers in the morning, motivational power ballad playlists, dancing in the kitchen, YouTube kickboxing, aromatherapy and brisk walks round the block (pre-COVID19 of course). Smell, sound and movement can all have an impact; you just need to find what works for you.
Confession: There are some days when I don’t work at 100% and that’s ok. When I’m having an off day I prioritise me and in the long run Charity People gets a happier, more productive employee. I don’t feel guilty if I occasionally put ‘Gone Fishing’ on in the background and work from the sofa as long as I’m getting something done. I don’t worry if I have introverted days where business development takes a back seat. Background traffic noise is fine if I need to be outside to talk to people.
Ultimately, I know that most days I’m doing a good job. I don’t beat myself up on the days when self-care is the first thing on my ‘to do’ list. Your productivity will tell you whether you’re getting it right or not. I’ve found that keeping a journal helps release tension and identify what works and what doesn’t. If you’re comfortable with gratitude, you could add something you’re grateful for each day too.
It’s a work in progress and the recent changes to daily life have unbalanced my equilibrium, so I’m starting from scratch again in some respects. Rubbish days will happen – especially in this atmosphere of stress and tension – but tomorrow is always brand new. I dust myself off and try again.