Wednesday May 31, 2023

From Zero to Hero: Stepping Up the Work from Home Game

zero to hero

Working from home isn’t easy. It’s not always easy to get started…and once you’ve gotten your feet wet, it’s not always easy to keep up your momentum. I’d wager a guess that at some point, all of us who work from home have questioned why we do it and why we are at least momentarily envious of our friends who earn a living in a more traditional environment.

Even if you’re getting everything done in a day, it’s still easy to feel like a total zero. Here’s how to step up your work from home game and go from feeling like a zero to a total hero.

Examine Your Schedule

When you work from home, you get the “opportunity” to set your own schedule (most of the time – I know some people contract with places like call centers and end up with set hours…and that’s okay, too). The thing is, the schedule that works for you during the school year may be a giant no during the summer or on school breaks. Planning to work while your baby naps is all well and good until you realize just how freaking tired you are or the little darling gives up naps. Your day is not designed by Ron Popeil. When you work from home, there is no set it and forget it. It’s more like set it, use it, tweak it, and change it if and when necessary. Schedule your most mind-power consuming tasks for when you have the most energy and focus. I don’t care if that is 5 am before anyone else wakes up (bonus: you’re done with all your work by like…noon) or 11:32 pm. When you work on the most energy consuming work tasks first, the rest of the time you work will make you feel a million times more productive.

So, make it a habit to examine your schedule and change it when necessary.

Stop Being a Conformist

It can be just as easy to fall into the habit of comparing yourself, your work habits, and your entire life to other work from home enthusiasts. You don’t have to work like they do. You don’t have to have the same decision making process. While it is good to network with others and glean what you can use, don’t ever think that you’re doing it “wrong.” If your house isn’t burning down, the kids don’t have you hog tied and living on the roof during a lightening storm, and your clients are happy, you’re fine. Sure, try new ideas if you want…but don’t do it because you think you’re wrong or because there is a certain why you must work from home. No. Working from home is individualized. It is your business.

Take Some Time to Enjoy Working from Home

Doing the dishes doesn’t count…unless maybe you’re planning an awesome dinner party or just looove to clean. Take some time every day to enjoy the fact that you work from home. Sometimes, I take a hot bath in the middle of the day. Why? Because I fucking can, that’s why. Sometimes I go and sit at the lake and work while Red Bull fishes. Why? Because I fucking can, that’s why. I’d love to say sometimes I take a nap in the middle of the day…but I don’t because I am a chronic insomniac who can’t even sleep during the day…and on the off chance I do, I’m likely quite sick. Every day during the summer, Baby Bull and I wander toward our neighborhood park. There’s a splash pad there. We stay for close to an hour (he sunburns easily even with sunscreen). We go whenever we want. Why? Because I fucking can, that’s why.

So, go to the library. Go on a walk. Take the children somewhere fun. Go stand on your head in the corner. I don’t care what you do as long as it is legal and moral. You will never feel like a work from hero until you learn to enjoy your life.

Be Consistent Even on Shitty Days

Some days, life is just a big steaming pile of dog shit. The kids and the dogs are vomiting on the carpet. Your sweet little pumpkin decides to grab a permanent marker and draw you a picture….on the wall. Clients change their plans at the last minute. Your hypochondriac mother won’t leave you alone and you decide to take up drinking. Some days just suck. While there is an occasional day where you should just take a break and throw in the towel, it is extremely important to be consistent even on shitty days. The needs of your clients don’t go away because your day sucks. Your electric company still charges you. You still need money to pay your bills.

Persevering through shitty days does you two favors. First, it reminds you that you have a purpose. Total strangers still need you. Second, it teaches you and your spawn a valuable lesson. Life doesn’t stop. When things get hard, we do not quit. Sure, we may re-assess and need a new plan, but we do not quit. It teaches YOU that you are capable and strong. You may feel like a zero that day, but in a few days when you look back, you’ll feel like a total fucking hero because you rocked that day like no other.

T Is for Time Management

Zeros have the same 24 hours in a day as total heroes. The difference is in how that time is managed. I know that tomorrow will suck for me because it will be busy. So, one thing I am doing today to prepare for tomorrow is to handle some of tomorrow’s work. That will be one less thing for me to do.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Learn to manage your time. Plan things. You don’t have to have a start and stop time for things. I don’t. I do know roughly how much time I will need to devote to each client on any given day. And I work in my fun time.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Seriously. No is perfect. I know it can be hard to give yourself a break. I struggle with it, too. “I could do more. I should do more. I must do more.” Yet, our self-worth shouldn’t ever be totally tied up in our work. You are not a slave. You are a person. You are a person with needs. You are a person with responsibilities outside of work…and that make you a hero.

Comment below how you make your work from home experience better (and click Confessional to tell us your anonymous secrets.)

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