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When I began working from home in 2015, it was a daunting task. But over the years, I learnt and made some lifestyle changes to finally loving WFH!
I love Mondays, and I work from home!
And I believe we all take few decisions in our life, some on impulse and some out of sheer desperation. We may regret these later or we might find ways to make it work.
Frankly, I still do not know why I decided to work from home since November 2015, with some luxurious days at office! (Thanks to the lockdown, no-one is really going to mind the usage of ‘luxurious’ here.)
My decision fit none of the brackets. Yet people close to me reassured me that my decision was due to certain important goals and it was appropriate. They definitely seem to know better while I am still trying to solve the mystery.
Anyway in Nov. 2015, I landed from a very promising career at my previous company to my present company. I got a decent package and the option to work from home as I had to deal with different geographies in my role.
The first few months of my work from home were almost a nightmare. I was definitely not prepared for it. Each day started with some self motivating quotes and something like ‘She knew who she was and the game changed’ (As if)
And some other days, when I felt overdramatic, they began with singing Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ in the kitchen while scrolling through my emails. Not particularly productive but I did manage to learn the entire lyrics to Roar and can still sing it in a heartbeat.
Well, as I was adjusting to this new life, further drama was obviously created. For an assignment, I had to do some technical designing in a completely different database that I absolutely had no clue about. I was assigned a mentor from the US (different geographies indeed)
Few weeks down the lane, we both knew – that we did not really work well. Escalations flew here and there and boy! It was really bad. That really went up the ladder, I was told to really buckle up and start doing some real good work!
There were questions on my abilities, my previous job experience, the recommendations people gave about me and some seniors who knew my work as well. I was feeling awful but at the same time I was clueless as to why I could not perform to the best of my capabilities.
What made me go from a top performer in the previous org to a below average employee? During this time, my girl gang kept cheering me on with, ‘ You can do it babe!’ And the few minutes of sulking with them made me feel strong and empowered. However, looking at the database did nothing to keep it up!
It wasn’t just work, but my domestic life suffered too. I lost interest in cooking cleaning everything. All I wanted was to reflect and introspect on what was going on with me. I even applied for other jobs that would be much meatier but nothing really materialised. Clearly, I had lost my mojo…
Then there were my other health issues which is for a different blog someday, nothing was right. I was isolated from all the experiences of office-life and I missed my old life terribly.
And while all this was happening, I am not sure what really happened, but while I was going through all this, I decided to give work from home one last change. I wanted to beat the hell our of it and feel more powerful than my laziness and procrastination.
So, I started making a small plan for myself which included one health benefit activity, office work, one passion to follow religiously and some socialising. My morning walk, work from home and cooking were the activities. The morning walk helped me mentally relax and feel good. During the walk I made it a point to listen to music or just to my inner voice.
Once I set out on my work, I started making a to-do list everyday and posting on my desktop and it is something I still do. My to do list contains one or two nagging items, two simple tasks and two pending tasks that need follow up with other teams.
I try keeping my day to five to seven tasks that need to be done and if I am able to do them and attend important meetings, I take some pride in that. And I also have the habit of sending the to do list to my team members who work with me, it helps them a lot (I don’t know if they are annoyed) On a serious tone, I have seen some very positive change in them.
I have also set some ground rules in my life. Taking my lunch break is important and something I am entitled to. My play time with my toddler is important and non-negotiable. I have realised time management is important but multi tasking isn’t (it just stresses me and makes my hormones feel out of sync) One can try but just a little.
The third I suggest is following one passion at the end of the day. It could be anything right from reading to singing, to writing or cooking, and even binge-watching Netflix. One needs to recharge and rejuvenate too.
Many people say work from home with kids is a total nightmare. And I agree it can be and requires a very special kind of magic. It is definitely not easy in the beginning.
Try the mental shutting off and you might get there. However, you definitely need some support or help to manage work responsibilities. I owe a huge chunk of my sanity at work and home to my five nannies! (Obviously, not all at once, but one after another as per their exit plan)
It is a different game altogether in this lockdown if you don’t have any help. Since I experienced it, let me be very honest – it’s not easy and almost impossible to do justice to both. And just be proud if you manage to pull through the day with your body and mind intact!
We are wonderful I tell you! As women, I believe, we are our best version when we are jealous or when threatened – clap if you agree!
However, for people without kids work from home is another challenge – overcoming the monotony. I mean, how many date nights and binge watching sessions can you really plan!
I spent half of my work from home on the other side and I can tell you, the combination of being parents and working from home is far better! You have a goal – you need to shut down from work to play a board game with your little monster. And, trust me, that’s a serious goal!
The fourth is socialising face to face. During lockdown this might not be possible, but people are moving to apps and that can be used to socialise. I’d advice you schedule it.
There was an instance when my husband’s boss wanted to have a video call with the entire team and my husband was working from the bedroom. I was sleeping on the bed enjoying my evening siesta. And he just woke me from my deep sleep and asked me to move to the living room. He definitely had a productive call, but same can’t be said about balancing the stakeholders at home!
When we work from an office, we are friends with people who do the same work as us and there is a sense of oneness which is comforting too.
But when one starts working from home, you can make a lot of friends too, in fact, a wider circle of friends. But that involves coming out of you comfort space and shedding a lot of inhibitions. Often you may not be in the same juncture of life, or might have different views on the world but somewhere I realised, this is fulfilling too.
You will feel supported if you have friends in your vicinity who can really be there for you and not just tied a common professional goal. Again this is a lot of work! It did not come to me easily (took me over three years) And there were layers and layers of inhibitions that I had to shed to become friends with a lot of known unknown strangers. Some of them actually resided in the same building or near me. Life is funny!
I pray that we all get back to our offices soon after the lockdown. It would be interesting to know if one misses a part of the old lockdown life and the perks of being work from home. Let me know what you think!
I hope was able to encourage someone out there with my experience that went from tragic to comic to thrilling to finally a life lesson! Work from home does get better with time. It takes tiny lifestyle changes and things are bright and sunny again!
So if you are just pulling through this lockdown, able to answer emails, listen to your team, converse with your family, please pat yourself. You are doing much better than some li(ke me) when we started work from home!
Bravo work from home crusaders! Shine on!
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Pexels
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