This Just In

What I’ve Learned About Working From Home

For the first time in my life, I am working from a home office. When we transitioned to St. Petersburg for my husband’s job, my boss and I worked out an agreement to update my role at Growing Bolder to allow me to work remotely (most of the time) and to continue to help our company grow, all while taking on an amazing new challenge with my family.

Life really is a beach.

I had no idea what to expect. I’ve never before had a job that could be done outside of an office, so I never really thought it was a possibility. Even if it had been, I know that I do best when I am in a collaborative team environment.

But I was and am very thankful that it’s an option, and I’m embracing the opportunity to kind of be my own boss; I still report to and work with my colleagues, and that won’t change, but each day, I run this remote office. I decide what tasks need to be done and when, and how the rest of my life fits in.

It’s been a few weeks now, and I’ve learned some good life lessons.

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1) Time operates on a different level.

I have a demanding job, and whether it takes me an hour or five to get a task done doesn’t really matter: it’s about delivering a result. I thought I’d feel less time pressure at home, where there are no impromptu meetings or gossip sessions to drain the minutes away.

That’s somewhat true, but somehow, in a way that defies physics and science, time goes by faster when I’m working home alone than it ever did in an office. I’ll get lost in writing or answering emails or on a conference call and all of a sudden — BAM! — it’s the end of the day.

Because I’ve cut my hours back to part-time, I figured I’d be able to do some daily chores, schedule workouts, etc. all into the 9-5 grind, but I’m still ending each day with several unchecked tasks on the list. I’ve looked at my workflow and I don’t see any obvious time suckers, so I think that the clock just runs faster once my workday is officially underway.

I even started setting an alarm for myself, so I wouldn’t forget to go get Audrey from school!

2) It’s easy to forget to eat.

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I know it seems nuts (no pun intended) since my kitchen is literally five steps away from my desk, but I have forgotten to eat lunch almost every day. I get there eventually, thanks to a rumbling tummy, but instead of running in at noon on the nose every day, I’m wandering in and throwing leftovers into the microwave or slapping together a sandwich long after I should.

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Even worse…I’ve not yet eaten lunch away from my desk. It’s a bad habit that I don’t want to continue BUT it has just been easier to eat while listening in to a webinar or wrapping up some social media shares.

I did meal plan last week, which helped me feel better about making and eating a good dinner and also helped me feel less stressed at the end of the day (I really don’t enjoy cooking and Lucas does a majority of it but since he’s working a lot of nights I’m trying to take some of the burden back).

3) Finding sounding boards is tough.

My dog and cat are lazy co-workers, so they’re not much help. Thankfully, I’m able to jump on a weekly conference call with my team, and my colleague Jackie is always available by GChat and Facebook messenger, which makes it fast and easy to get feedback on tasks, but I’m missing the interaction with real people.

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I’m thinking about looking into some co-working spaces, or even taking my work to Starbucks or a library once a week, just so I can have some other people around. Maybe they won’t all be sounding boards, but having an energetic environment would help me a lot.

{By the way, this was also one of my co-workers this week…I looked up while standing on my balcony for a conference call and there he was!}

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4) Silence can be distracting.

The first two weeks of work, I had Audrey home with me. It was much, much harder than I anticipated to get any work done while trying to entertain her, and it led to meltdowns from both Mommy and toddler. It was a hard thing for me to admit that I wasn’t set up or equipped to work from home with a kid running around, and an even harder thing to decide to put her into daycare several months earlier than I’d planned. {I’d envisioned this magical summer of mommy-Audrey playtime, with me working in the mornings and evenings but it became clear very quickly that that’s just not something that’s feasible in my life.}

Now, however, it’s too quiet. I keep Pandora streaming most of the time (I found that keeping the TV on in the background was too distracting) and I’ve been listening to the audiobook of “Hero” by Rhonda Byrne (recommended by my boss) and all of that helps.

{One great thing about working from home on Marathon Monday? I was able to watch every moment on my iPad!}

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5) Embracing change is GOOD.

I talked about it a bit here, but my biggest lesson learned is that professionally and personally, this change has been good for me. It’s forced me to take on new routines, and to loosen and use mental muscles I’d not stretched for a long time. It’s making me focus on big tasks and let some small ones go, and it’s teaching me a lot about the kind of worker I am and can be.

I feel more personally invested in my work than ever before, especially because I know that my colleagues are counting on me to keep up my standard of work, despite our distance. I want to make them and myself proud, and I really want to use this opportunity to grow as a leader instead of just doing the same ol’ thing.

It’s been an interesting few weeks, and I am so excited about what’s to come.

 

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