The past couple months have been a deep dive into what continued remote work can look like in my life. The past two years working from home mostly took place in the living room, dining room, even in the kitchen. I always felt scattered and pulled in too many directions. If I emptied the dishwasher between meetings, emails piled up. If I edited a communication at the end of meeting time, I felt guilty for not spending more time with my family. Most of my multi-tasking or quickly swapping between to-dos left me with overall internal chaos. Chats, meetings, nurse my baby, meetings, wolf down lunch and nurse again, tidy kitchen, meetings, couple work tasks, and repeat weekday after weekday. My stress levels felt consistently high.
Coming into 2022 and my 37th year, acknowledging this is likely to be the future of my job life, I determined it was time to figure out how to make this working at home work for me. I set out to make little tweaks that would hopefully snowball into bigger change. I relocated my “office” to a space in our basement near the treadmill and yoga mat I’ve started leaving permanently unrolled. I now hop on the treadmill for walking meetings, lift weights and do squats when listening to a webinar, and flow through sun salutations when I need a pick-me-up between lengthy sedentary intervals. I started lighting a candle on my desk as part of my morning routine in addition to taking 10-15 minutes to have a cup of coffee and read a few pages or an article or a professional or personal development.
I have been working in goal setting for each month and breaking them down for each week, along with daily to-do review to keep on track with achieving my objectives. I mix in some occasional jigsaw and crossword puzzles, chores or other personal tasks, and periodic coffee chats with colleagues now that life is trending back to something more “normal.” It’s still a daily combination of work and personal life activities, but I’m much more intentional about it. It’s a focused integration more than a balancing or juggling act.
It’s not a perfect arrangement, of course, but I’m getting better at choosing and sticking with it. If I need to focus on work, I do. When I want to exercise while listening in on a meeting, I’m making the conscious decision that serves me rather than letting the demands of the day run right over me. I’m also making more of an effort to have more fun at work. Hence, the puzzles, reading, and coffee breaks, but I’m also giving myself permission to take time to chat in the team chats, send funny GIFs to my coworkers, organize virtual water cooler times for my team, and continue to work longer hours Monday-Thursday to have Friday afternoons off.
Days can still feel a bit too full and work occasionally still too stressful, but I feel more in control and more productive. Simple tweaks are indeed making impactful differences–micro changes yield macro results. When we’re all so busy, a total overhaul can feel overwhelming and unfeasible to implement, but small changes feel possible. So let’s all make micro changes to make big improvements in our days.