Hello my lovelies! Before I get into my full on gyaan mode and share the work from home tips that worked for me here is a bit of forewarning-I DID NOT want to do this!
Yes, you heard me right! I am never the one to go about doling out unsolicited advice ‘coz guess what ! I loathe such advice myself mostly ‘coz I know and understand we all are in different circumstances and stages of life and what works for one might not necessarily always work for others and vice versa.
However during a recent “Ask Me Anything” series one of my Instagram friends asked me how do I manage my time working from home. I guess now more than ever, with the current COVID situation when all members of family are home , us women are feeling the most amount of pressure. It is definitely not easy when you throw home- schooling young kids into the equation. I mean there is a reason we send our kids to school, right? ‘Coz we DID NOT train to be teachers! And it is THE hardest job to teach one’s own kids ‘coz the buggers just do not take you seriously and question everything you say! Anyway! I digress!
The point is someone asked and I thought it is my responsibility to share . And if it helps even one person then my job is done!
Before we begin…
Working from Home is not easy!
All you working from home Mamas, give yourself a HUGE pat, yes a HUGE BEAR PAT on your backs. It is the most ridiculous concept and yet we fall for it in the name of work-life balance. Ok, maybe it is not all that bad especially on the days you can work while sipping your favourite wine! Hey! Us wfh peeps are entitled to our happy hours too, isn’t it ?!
Also, do remember no one woman is a super woman to manage it all, all by herself. It takes a village and it is upto you to create that village! I have a few – my immediate one being my husband and my help. Next, close friends who I know I can fall back on. So, before you embark on any ambitious project do make sure you have a dependable village and not just fair-weather friends 😉
And last but not the least, do not beat yourself up if things do not work out as planned. Cut yourself some slack. Being humane has to start from being kind to your own self first, right?
So, here it is: Work from Home- 7 things that worked for me!
Sacred Sunday Evenings
As much as I hate to encroach on family time over weekends but having those two precious hours to myself before bedtime on Sundays ensure I have a relatively smooth week ahead. I use this time to plan my work schedule as well as what we are going to be eating during the week.
Everything is written down and planned to the T with no room for miscommunications. This includes sending out calendar invites to my husband with reminders and my schedule which he needs to be aware of even if he is not personally involved. That also helps him brace himself for the mood-swings he may have to witness on certain days. I am obviously talking about the kids 😉
I also brief the help about the times of the day she cannot expect to fall back on my support even if I am physically around.
Highlighting Hectic Days
When extremely busy days are highlighted all the adults in the house ensure that they plan the lead up to those days accordingly which means everyone gets enough rest and we have no unnecessary drama. Do not underestimate the power of a fully rested mind!
Setting an Intent and Journaling
The night before, I set an intent for the tasks I need to accomplish the next day. No rocket science right? We all do it ! But how do we do it? Stressing and forcing ourselves about all that needs to be done and in the process freaking our brain out and loosing on a good night’s sleep.
I was the same until my therapist taught me the right way to do it- replace the “should” and “need to” by “could” and “try my best to.” Example: Instead of “I need to upload a blog post tomorrow”, try “I will try my best to upload a blog post tomorrow.”It sounds like a lot of words till you put it into practice . And the more often you do it, the better your brain gets at it. It also helps to set your intentions or record your goals, both short and long term, in your journal. It is like reiterating to your brain that this is important stuff.It is also a way of putting your subconscious mind to task in achieving those goals.
Well Begun is Half Done
Now, this has taken some resolve and I have not so good days too like everyone else but more often than not I like to start my day with at least half an hour of Pranayama and mild workout. It has a two-fold effect, one, my body is gifted with the right dose of endorphins and dopamines setting the right note for the day and second, it helps me focus on my tasks much better through the day with complete mindfulness. And we all know the power of doing a task mindfully-better and more satisfactory outcomes. My three goto Pranayam techniques- Anulom-Vilom, Kapal-Bhaati and Bhramari.
Guilt is for Criminals
And you aren’t one! Well not until you get caught, haha! Jokes aside, what I mean is I do not let my “mummy-brain” guilt me about taking time away from kids. How so, you might ask? And the answer is simple-I do not take time away from them! When I plan my week I make sure I chalk out distraction-free time with my kids during which we do things which Mummy is good at. For other things we have Daddy and Aunty.
Yes, I am very grateful for a full time live-in help to whom I can outsource the non-value adding activities like taking the kids to the playground from time to time. There is no day care concept here in Hong Kong so the help is critical. I also make sure I maximise my time with my children while teaching them things only a parent can. Phone and gadget free meals are one of them. If I am home, meal times are sacrosanct.
I rarely do working lunches and am happy to set everything aside to have a quiet meal with family. That way we get to speak about our day and also talk a lot about health and nutrition touching upon why we are eating what we are eating.So, when I am with family I am my hundred percent and when I am working , shutting my study door with my headphones on I forget about everything but my work.My lovelies do remind yourself from time to time- There is no guilt in prioritising the right thing at the right time. And ONLY YOU know what is the right thing and when is the right time!
Treat Times & Celebrating Small Wins
Because most weekdays are usually back to back with things to do for me, I make sure to give myself a “treat” midweek or late in the week. This treat could be a coffee or walk with a friend, curling up with a book one afternoon, a nap or (in pre-covid times) a foot massage!
By doing this I avoid the “living my life only over the weekend” syndrome and am all charged up for the weekend which more often than not involves cooking elaborate meals for the family or working on a blogpost or client work. This also helps to recharge and refuel my creative brain especially before an important client project.
Celebrating wins, no matter how small or inconsequential they seem, is equally important. Managed to wake up 30 minute early on 3 consecutive days? Journal it with positive words of reinforcement and reward it with a nap midweek 🙂
All the above pointers are useless if one lacks the resolve and discipline to stick to it , right? Luckily for me, that one thing I grew up hating my parents the most for, is what makes me the most grateful for now-sticking to a routine with utmost discipline! If you ask me, good habits and discipline is what differentiates naysayers and shirkers from achievers . It isn’t easy but it makes life better. So, my suggestion, to start with, try to stick to your new schedule for 3 days in a row, then on the fourth day after a pat on the back, journal what things did not work and then start afresh for the next three days. Gradually increase three to five to nine and so on.
Some helpful tools
My friend Shailaja V who is an established blogger and a social media coach shares some great applications that make working from home simpler and I thought it is worth a share.
Tips to Plan Meals: https://onewholesomemeal.com/weekly-meal-plan-the-why-when-and-how/
Affirmations-the HOW & WHY- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/smart-relationships/201403/affirmations-the-why-what-how-and-what-if