“What happened to you Magdalene? You look so fresh today!” These were the words of one of my colleagues as we held a zoom meeting on the 2nd week of working from home. It was nice that she noticed because I started my 2nd week of working from home with the mindset that I will practice self-care, apply my make-up and dress up as though I was going to the office. This happened because the week before that, I was so busy trying to figure out how to work through new technologies that I barely had the time to comb my hair properly. By the end of the first week, I was exhausted and determined not to repeat the same error during the 2nd week.
However, even though the 2nd week started with a bang and that I did maintain a better routine, I was exhausted again at the end of the week. It was not only me – when I looked at all the faces on our zoom huddle, I thought that everyone looked like me ‘ a bit exhausted!’ Although I have worked from home sporadically over the last couple of years, I would have never imagined that working from home fulltime could leave me feeling so estranged. I can tell you that I have worked harder online than when I am at the office and we have achieved quite a lot within a short period of time. Now I am thinking that pushing ourselves with a new learning curve could be contributing to the exhaustion which we are feeling. Not only that but we are trying to focus while also listening to the devastating news of COVID-19 and also managing our families while working at home!
Under normal circumstances, I am often a bit disorganized and double book myself quite a lot. Nowadays, I am guilty of leaving one online conversation for another and sometimes leaving a conversation unfinished or getting notifications from Zoom that ‘I cannot enter another meeting because I am currently in a meeting.” Working from home seem to look easy on the outside but it needs to be managed. We can buy into the fantasy that we could do more since we are at home but it is important to weigh the pros and cons. Now I have so much more appreciation for my rushed ride to the office in the morning. As rushed as it often is, I miss the familiarity of it and I even miss the traffic! I miss that ‘thinking time’ on the drive to work as much as I miss the idle chats and little stories which are shared from the time I open the door of the office until I leave in the late evening. I miss hearing footsteps and knocks on my office door and the unexpected things which would come about in the day. I miss having the options of choosing where to go, what to eat (apart from my own cooking) or what to do after work!
I know for sure that the social connections with other human beings is important to me and I also get energized by the physical interaction with people.
As I work from home, I realize that being online constantly can be exhausting. My goals this week are to pace myself better, give myself more breaks and manage my online interactions so that I don’t feel guilty for leaving others in the middle of a Facebook or LinkedIn conversation because there is another zoom meeting. I want to practice better self-care and get into a routine which is supporting this new lifestyle. This means learning when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes’ to the many opportunities which has sprung online. I must remember that there are still 24 hours in a day and I am in charge of how I chose to spend these 24 hours.
Today, I also found myself gently inviting my spirit to bring forth memories that will make me feel better as I think about the future. My garden came to mind and I cannot wait to start digging the earth and become immersed in all the abundance of energy that it will give to me. Thank goodness that Spring is here and that the sunshine will be warmer and the evening light will stay on longer. I know that by keeping my mind in a positive future state is one way that I can get through COVID-19 by following the rules of physical distancing and staying home.
What has been your experience of working from home? Please share so that we can all learn now to cope with this new normal!