The Downsides to Working from Home
This is the stuff that nobody seems to talk about.
I see so many posts, videos and blogs about the "amazing world" of working from home. Everyone is always so happy, so aesthetic and blessed to be in this position.
Honestly, it makes you think that working from home is 10x better than working outside the home...in every way.
Don't get me wrong here.
I love what I do, but there are times when working from home isn't all it's cracked up to be.
This is stuff that I learned the hard way and it was really hard for me. Sometimes it still is.
Right now, I'm going through a transition from being a full time virtual assistant to being a full time virtual assistant, coach and team leader.
I have loved this journey, but I have definitely been neglecting myself in the process.
I didn't really notice it until about a year ago when I looked in the mirror and came to the realization that I hadn't brushed my hair in three days...
Honestly, there had been quite a bit of things that I've been neglecting because I've been so caught up in work, the move and keeping my clients happy.
I had been neglecting myself by not brushing my hair, not dressing in a way that makes me feel good about myself, keeping my space clean, eating right and spending time on my hobbies.
What made me feel worse about this realization is that I thought I was the only one. Everyone else online was sipping their iced coffees in bed, binge watching their favorite TV show and getting work done in peace (or so I thought). Come to find out, a lot of business owners feel like this. This feeling that I'm referring to is one of the 7 stages of burnout.
That's right...burnout! So, why am I feeling burnt out when I'm doing something that I love? Why are thousands of other business owners suffering the same fate? Well, one thing's for sure...having your "work place" and your "rest place" the same doesn't help. Your brain can often trick you into thinking that whenever you aren't working that you are being lazy.
In fact, for a long time, my rest consisted of slumping into my bed after about 12 hours on my computer. I would scroll through Tiktok for about an hour then pass out and do it all over again. Yes, I realize now that it's an unhealthy practice. But at the time, I kept telling myself that if I just powered through it...I would reach my goals.
The problem with this ideology is that my goals kept increasing and I never rewarded myself for the goals that I already accomplished. This never-ending hamster wheel is what led me to burnout.
I had to develop strategies to knock down the hamster wheel (and keep myself off it). As someone who struggled with the idea that maybe I was the only one and maybe I was being dramatic/lazy/unproductive. I want to tell you that if you have related with anything I have said so far.
You are are not alone.
So today, I'm going to share the tips and tricks that I learned and still use to this day.
#1 STARTING MY DAY WITHOUT MY PHONE.
This has been SUPER tough because I work online. I'm also a military spouse (currently overseas), so when I'm asleep my clients are awake. This meant many of my clients had to wait several hours for a reply from me and so I felt guilty for "wasting" any time easing into my day when I could be answering those messages. So, I was reading messages, handling things and getting worked up before I had even gotten dressed. I was giving myself no time to dictate my mood, my morning or even eat before getting started with my work day. This made it so that my day was decided by my clients and anyone else who sent me a message the night before. If they were upset, I was anxious. If they were rude, I was annoyed. That was my day already decided (before I even brushed my teeth).
Here's what I started to do instead...do not disturb. It's a lovely addition to your smartphone. The setting allows you to pick certain hours of the day that you don't get notifications except from a select few contacts/apps. For me, I only get them from my immediate family and husband. I set do not disturb from 6:00 PM to 9:00 AM every weekday. No matter what has happened, I don't see it until I've completed my morning routine and drank my coffee. I highly recommend it.
#2 I HAVE GIVEN MYSELF A REWARD EACH DAY AFTER WORK.
I am a reward-driven human. I seek out rewards and most of the time...the reward I was seeking was that feeling of accomplishment when I completed a project. The problem was that I would often keep working until I completed it (just to get that reward).
This led me to some pretty late nights and having to redo things because I was trying to complete them at 2:00 AM.
So, I started to set a more tangible reward for myself at the end of each workday. The rewards often change, but they always have NOTHING to do with work. Lately that something has been watching a new episode of Loki on Disney+, playing Stardew Valley with my fiancé or a really tasty treat from the café on the corner.
I tell myself that in order to do the reward, I have to get my to-do list done AND log off at 6:00pm. Both have to happen. This keeps me productive throughout the day, but also manages my time.
#3 I HAVE ADDED EVERYTHING TO A SINGLE PROGRAM
Over the years, I've pretty much always had a project management system. I've used Notion, Clickup, Trello, Asana and now Basecamp. I kept swapping systems and resetting them up because none seemed to do what I needed them to do. I needed organization. I needed balance.
Once day, I realized that one of the biggest issues wasn't the programs itself. It was how I was using them. You see, I was setting up every system correctly. I added in all my tasks, filled out descriptions and even gave myself reasonable deadlines. The problem was that I only ever added in tasks for my business. Everyday, I logged on and checked my task list. I would complete everything and then find myself overwhelmed with the mountain of other things I should have done that day. My task list was only business, so I only remembered to do business. Eventually, it seems that it was all I had time for.
To test the theory, I started putting things into my program that weren't business related. I put in tasks like my morning routine, eating lunch, taking my dogs out, doing the dishes, etc. And POOF!🪄 I magically found more time to be able to do them. Why?
Because I was figuring them into my plan in the first place. So I started putting everything in there. Sure, I don't share tasks like "wash your face" with my assistant, but when I check my tasks I can see it and that's what matters.
I KNOW IT MAY SEEM SILLY.
Some of these tips may seem second nature to you and completely unnecessary. But the beauty of this is that these systems work for me. You've got to stop worrying about what works for everyone else and find out what works for you (even if there isn't a best selling book about it).
Working from home means that you really need to sit down and figure out how to take control. You need to take control of your life and your schedule. You are in such a unique position where you can decide everything...and sometimes that is what is so scary about it.
So if any of these things resonated with you, try them. Alter them to fit your own style and I hope they work for you. Above all else, if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the 7 stages of burnout, speak to a professional before it progresses.