I have been working part-time from home for years. Through all the changes that come with working through the dynamic state of healthcare to raising kids, I have traditionally had a fixed mindset on the way I work – a few minor adjustments here and there, but sticking to a strict schedule and regular habits.
I have been giving guidance to professionals for years, especially working moms, on how to flex their schedules and negotiate with their employers some time during the week to be at home. My Type A personality has served me well, in both my work life and home life, allowing me to be productive.
Pre-COVID, I was regimented as a Type A person, committed to what I saw were the building blocks of productivity and success. I focused on:
A written schedule was posted at all times and also put in both my work and family calendars, separated in one-hour blocks. Breakfast and lunch made by 6:30am with dinner by 6pm. Laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. Work meetings, kids activities, and chores were all scheduled.
Morning and night routines were set and habitual. Meal planning was done weekly with checklists of items needed. Even movie watching was a weekly habit.
My home office was set up in my loft area. We call it the “study” where there is a large desk, large windows, and several bookcases. With a lot of open space and lots of light, it made for the perfect spot for focus.
I used to sit in an ergonomic chair in my office desk with my computer keyboard set at the appropriate height. I would use the clock beside my keyboard to remind me to take breaks at the hour marks.
Then the COVID crisis hit. My first thought was, well here comes change again and I’ll make the minor tweaks to manage it the way I always do and all will go back to normal again…
Well, I sure was wrong!
This time, the world is dealing with crisis and change management at an unprecedented scale. And down to my microenvironment, everything around me is now different.
I didn’t factor in my kids being at home and the invasion of my work space. I didn’t factor in multiple meals for multiple family members where some days I feel like I’ve lived completely in the kitchen with the never-ending pile of dishes. I didn’t realize I would have to deal with the anxiety of all the people around me – my kids, my spouse, my parents, friends and co-workers.
Now, during COVID, here’s the real truth.
You Type B’s – I salute you because you are ADAPTING better than I am!
My Type A ways are not serving me as well, and now I need to adapt. Success for me now is not about strict deadlines and schedules, but it is about managing, about adaptability.
The world is upside down and I’m focused on my small wins throughout the day and laughing at the messes and misses. I’m not accomplishing everything on my “to-do” list, but I’m learning a valuable lesson. Now, when I think about my day, my foundation has changed.
Schedules almost feel like a thing of the past! As we are all trying to understand virtual learning, class times vary and thus school time is far from routine. Everyone is waking up, eating, and sleeping at all odd hours. I have resorted to block times in order to maintain some sort of order and surprisingly, it is working out just fine.
What habits? Feels like many of them have gone out the door. Any day where we shower, eat one thing healthy, and refrain from screaming is a success! And that’s what we focus on. Each night during dinner, we try to discuss our “wins” for the day – what we are proud of that we accomplished.
The study is no longer a choice for me so I’ve put a desk in my bedroom. And while my body wrestles with the confusion of work time vs. sleep time in the bedroom, I am embracing the flexibility of being able to work from different places in the home.
These have definitely taken a back seat. My laptop follows me everywhere – into the kitchen while cooking, into the laundry room while folding clothes, and into the family room where I hope to get in some squats while watching a webinar. I just set the laptop on any counter I can find and hope my back and neck make it through each day! Surprisingly, they are because I am actually getting up and moving more.
Will working at home always feel like it does now? No. There will be a new normal created after this crisis, but we all will find some type of structure that will work. I’ve learned to laugh about my old habits and embrace the controlled chaos now.
Let me help you find that balance as you transition to work more at home. Reach out to me at:
Aashi Arora, MHA