WFH – Day Thirty One

It takes forever to shut down.

Not a whole lot has changed about my WFH routine since days one, two, and eight.


DIFFERENT: Drawer

The big thing is I now have a drawer. Steven suggested I put my work laptop away and out of site instead of just closing it and sliding it out of the way to slide my personal laptop into its place. Turns out I had an empty drawer right next to me, so now when I’m done for the day I put away the laptop and the adapter that lets me plug into my external monitor. It’s nice ’cause they never catch my eye and remind me of worky work stuff when it’s not worky work time.


I’m really quite settled in, and I’m slowly switching over to the phase where I dread having to someday go back into the office. That doesn’t seem imminent, so I’m trying not to think about it much. Yet.

I hope whatever your situation is that you’re weathering it as well as can be hoped.

 

WFH – Day Eight

I’m not even wearing regular socks anymore.

After eight days of working from home, I’ve definitely made some adjustments since days one and two.


DIFFERENT: Hair

Remember how I said I wander around with bedhead on weekends, but on work days I brush it and put it in pigtails? Yeah, that didn’t last long. I might randomly brush it and pull it back at some point in the morning before my lunchtime shower, but it’s not exactly likely.

DIFFERENT: Clothes

My goal of wearing “weekend work pants” lasted about two days. Last Monday I rolled out of bed and pretty much went directly to my computer—pyjamas and all. It was a nice try, but I don’t think I needed pants that are remotely “real”. I did throw some nicer comfy pants on after my shower today, and that was neat, but I’m finding it’s not something I need. Likewise, wearing regular socks seems to have fallen by the wayside. Comfy, puffy slipper socks have become the norm when I need them. Or I just go barefoot if it’s warm enough!

DIFFERENT: Exercise!

I’ve been doing a good job at staying active at lunch. I mostly still hop on the elliptical, but some days when I’m feeling particularly tired or stressed (or both, like today), I do some yoga instead. This is the session I did today, and it was perfect. Very gentle, relaxing stretches, and it was quite meditative.

WORKING ON IT: Scheduling

I still find myself staying logged in longer than I need to some days, so I’m trying to police myself better about logging off when my shift is over.

DIFFERENT: Dongle

I have a nifty dongle that allows me to use my big, external monitor with my work laptop. It’s great! I’ve decided to keep that dongle in a drawer with a bunch of other cords and dongles. I could leave it plugged into my work laptop, but it kinda sticks out, and the convenience of having it there already is far outweighed by the feeling of satisfaction I get closing that drawer on the dongle at the end of a work day. And then opening that drawer the next morning really puts my brain in a “time to start the day!” gear.


I think what this all boils down to is that I’m learning what works for me. Some people need to get dressed in real clothes to feel like they’re able to focus on work. Turns out, I’m not one of those people. I have plenty of friends who work from home all the time who never bother with many of the tips and tricks I’ve seen online, and they’re really successful! So I’m not judging myself for working in my pjs and slipper-socks. If it works for me, it works for me!

I hope whatever you’re doing is working for you too. Stay safe out there.

WFH – Day Two

Work socks! And Friday is jeans day!

Day two of working from home felt smoother than day one did. I still think I’m not working at my top speed, but I wasn’t when I was in the office over the past couple weeks either. Worrying about a pandemic scatters one’s thoughts. Who knew?

I figure I’ll keep noting wfh items here as they crop up. So there may not be work-daily posts, but who the heck knows anything these days? Maybe there will.


MODIFICATION: Spouse Time

On a normal office-workday, I wake up Steven to say goodbye and get some hugs and snuggles before I leave the house. Now that I’m just in the other room, I’m not waking him up before I leave because that would just be rude. (He rarely falls back asleep after I wake him, even though he doesn’t need to get up that early. He also stays up waaaay later than I do.) This morning, I took a short break after he was awake to pop in and say good morning. It made a bigger difference to my state of mind than I’d’ve expected, so I’ll definitely make sure I’m not sacrificing important together-time.

DIFFERENT: Hair

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been showering at lunchtime instead of before work, so my morning hair routine is necessarily different. On a weekend, I just wander around with bedhead. For wfh purposes, I’ve been brushing my hair and putting it in pigtails to feel a smidge more human/professional. (Then I do it normally after my lunchtime shower.)

DIFFERENT: Shower

Yep—still sticking with the lunchtime shower, so in the morning when I wake up, I’ve been washing my face with Neutrogena face wipes. It helps make me feel a little more together and with-it. (I generally try to avoid using lots of disposable stuff when I don’t need to, and this is my biggest mental-health exception to that. There’s something about washing my face in the sink that really stresses me out, so this is my bougie concession to my brain’s nonsense.)

MODIFICATION: Casual Friday

In the office, we can wear jeans on Friday! I know my pj pants or my “weekend work pants” are more comfortable than jeans, but I wanted to feel some solidarity with my distant coworkers, so I put on jeans today (as you can see a tiny bit of in the picture above). I also decided to wear “proper” socks today. Yesterday I padded around in slipper socks all day. Today’s purple cat-socks are a wee bit more professional.

DIFFERENT: Coffee

I forgot to mention this one yesterday. I had pretty much stopped drinking coffee at work. (I only drink decaf except in really extreme circumstances, so I don’t need the caffeine boost.) I decided it would feel more morning-at-the-officey to have a cuppa joe at my desk, so I’ve been making myself some decaf each morning.

WAY DIFFERENT: Accidental Mocha

Today I made the genius move of putting chocolate oat milk into my coffee and had myself a very basic mocha. Steven accidentally bought a carton of chocolate last time he went out for oat milk, and it was a happy accident indeed! Might need to make that an on-purpose move going forward.

DIFFERENT: Exercise!

I am so proud of myself! At lunch today, I hopped on the elliptical trainer for 20 minutes before showering. I am so glad I didn’t fall into the “I’ll start that next week” trap. Better to get rolling with physical activity immediately. There’s always a reason to put it off. But today I ignored all those reasons, and I think I’ll be better off for it.

MODIFICATION: Snacks

I still haven’t gotten back to my mixed-muts-as-a-snack thing. I still had some leftover Thai food (the place we order from has incredibly generous portions), so I had that at my 11am snack time. I think that was wise, given that I exercised at lunchtime. Then for my 3pm snack, Steven brought me a Booster Juice after doing a quick grocery run for fresh foods. (He is very careful when he goes out–armed with alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer and doing all the right social distancing. So have no fear on that count.)


One thing I’ve noticed these past two days is that the day positively flies by as compared to a day in the office. I can’t believe how quickly 4:30 rolled around. (And then 4:45 because something “rushey” cropped up at the last minute because Fridays are always a shitshow.) I wonder if that’s just because this is all still relatively new. Maybe after I’m a bit more used to it, the days will begin to crawl. Only one way to find out—keep on keepin’ on.

Hope you all out there are keepin’ on too.

WFH – Day One

The view from my “new office”

Having been given the go-ahead to work from home, I am now living the wfh lifestyle. It’s not entirely new to me — I work from home every now and then. So I don’t need resources like Glenn Fleishman’s Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily, which is currently free! Hop on that if you’re joining me in wfh-land and need some help.

While this isn’t new to me, working from home more than a day or three is. So I’ve been doing some things the same as usual for an office workday, some differently, and some are a modified version of what I usually do. I thought I’d take note of these things as I go — as much for my edification as for anyone else’s!


MODIFICATION: Clothes

The dress code at work is business-casual. The dress code at home is pjs all day. I split the difference. I have a few pairs of what I call “weekend work pants”, which I wear when I have lots of podcast work to do and want to feel slightly business-ey. That’s what I wore today.

SAME: Breakfast

I have a breakfast shake every morning before walking to work, so today I made the same shake even though my walk was only from the kitchen to the computer desk.

DIFFERENT: Commute

I’m getting much less cardio now that I’m not walking to work and back every day. This is something I’m gonna work on. But not right away. Just getting my work setup set up is enough for me for this week. (And I did get some extra walking today because I had an appointment downtown.)

MODIFICATION: Desk

I do still work at a desk, but this one is much less ergonomically set up for me. I’ll be working on this over the coming days. I did pop by the office to grab a foot rest, which has helped, but I may need an external keyboard with a keyboard tray because this chair doesn’t go as high as I need for this non-adjustable IKEA table.

MODIFICATION: Screens

I have a lil dongle that allows me to plug my work laptop into the external monitor I already have at home. I had to fight with it a bit to get MS Office apps to look clear, but I prevailed! At the office I have two largeish monitors that are oriented in portrait mode (vertically) right next to each other. Here at home, I have the external monitor in landscape mode (horizontal) hanging over my laptop screen. I’ve had to re-arrange where I put each of the programs I use regularly. I need to train new muscle memory, so I was a little slower than usual today — always reaching for the wrong part of the screen. I expect with time, I’ll get used to this setup and be back to my usual speedy self!

MODIFICATION: Hourly Steps

At work, I try to hit the 250 steps-per-hour goal my FitBit tells me to get. It’s usually pretty easy to do this because the trip to the bathroom or around the floor is much farther than the same journey here in our apartment. So every time I get up for any reason, I do a circuit of our living room and kitchen. (You can walk all the way around one wall so I do at least one circuit every time.) I’ve mostly met my 250 steps each hour.

MODIFICATION: Snacks

At the office, I had a pretty steady routine of eating 2 tablespoons of deluxe mixed nuts at 11am and 3pm. Now that I’m home, those nuts seem much less tempting. Today I ate leftovers at my 11am snack break, and then had some caramel corn at my 3pm snack break. I didn’t have anything at lunchtime though (in part, because I was at an appointment). I will definitely be policing myself when it comes to food. It’s too easy to just binge whatever I want, whenever I want. (I did refrain from eating an ice cream bar after my Thai food — even though it was quite spicy, and my mouth would have appreciated it! So I’m feeling pretty virtuous.)

MODIFICATION: Shower

I took a shower at lunch time. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to make myself get up any earlier than I absolutely have to — especially not to take a shower if I don’t need to go out and see people. I am not a morning person. So a lunchtime or even evening shower may become the way of things.

DIFFERENT: Lunch

I usually drink another shake at lunch (protein+greens with coconut milk and coconut yogurt, same as for breakfast), but that’s honestly just ’cause I’m too lazy to get anything else ready to take to work. Now I have the whole of my fridge’s contents to work with, every day. So I had some leftover Thai food I ordered from a place in Chinatown (and tipped handsomely for). Will I default back to a shake when I have no delicious leftovers to divvy out and heat up? Quite possibly. Or I might start in on microwave meals.

DIFFERENT: Distractions

At the office, my distractions mostly come from my coworkers. Usually they’re asking a work-related question, but not always. There’s some fun random water-cooler talk too. Now that I’m at home, I’m finding I have far fewer interruptions to my work. Steven did have stuff on the TVs behind me, but I’m really good at tuning things out. The only thing that caught my ear today was when CBC switched over to their COVID-19 coverage. Dr. Deena Hinshaw is a rockstar, and I definitely took a short break to watch her statement.

DIFFERENT: Schedule

Today may not have been a great example for my daily schedule because I had an appointment downtown and also had to pick up some stuff (including the foot rest) from the office, so I wasn’t at my desk constantly. I say all of this to excuse the fact that I kept working a half an hour after my shift is actually over. It’s really easy to just keep working when you’re already at home. I’m gonna have to keep an eye on this on days when I don’t have an extended lunch period.


I know that all of this will evolve over the coming days/weeks/months(?), and I’m kinda interested to see how I tweak things as I go. Thus the blog post(s?) to help keep track of where I started and maybe where I’m going.

Nothing’s Changed; Everything’s Changed

Sadly, this is not my current state of affairs.

I’ve been wanting to write something about how I’ve been feeling through all this … waves hands at the world … but I’m having trouble getting my thoughts to settle down to even figure out how I’m feeling. I know I’m not at all alone in this, but I also recognize that everyone is feeling it in their own way.

The thing that’s the most difficult for me to wrap my head around is the fact that my life hasn’t changed. At least not yet. I don’t do the grocery shopping, and 80-90% of my social interaction happens online anyway. Most distressingly, my employer doesn’t have the IT capability to let all employees work remotely. I do have a laptop, and I’m set up to work remotely (which I do occasionally when the need arises), but we’ve been told we really should be in the office.

So right now, nothing is substantially different here. We don’t usually go out to eat, and we only see movies in the theatre a couple times a year. We do have semi-regular hang-outs with local friends, but those often get cancelled anyway.

Everything is the same.

But it’s not.

That’s what is twisting my brain around. So many of my friends are working from home for the first time (because their employers have IT systems that can handle it). They’re hunkering down in a way that’s new and different for them. The picture at the top of this post represents what my brain seems to think I should be doing these days, but I still have the same amount of day-job work, and I still have the same amount of home-job podcasting work (if not a little more right now).

In a way, I’m lucky(?) that so much of my life is pretty much “social distancing” at the best of times because there’s no learning curve. But on the other hand, the cognitive dissonance of going about my business while knowing that the world has already changed around me (and will change more, and for the worse, very soon) has my neural chemistry in quite the tizzy.

So if you’re not making many active changes (because you don’t need to), but you’re still struggling mightily, know that you’re not alone.

Take care of yourselves. <3

Predictably Warm and Fuzzy

Today wasn’t great, but it was a day where I managed to overcome my brain (and body) challenges to make some things work for me. That’s not something I achieve every day, so I’m taking a moment to be thankful I was as productive as I was.

In that spirit, I’m closing out the night with a very warm fuzzy thought. I may be asleep by the time Steven gets home from work, but when he does, I’ll be tucked warm and cozy in my blankies, and he’ll settle himself down on the couch and watch the highlights of the hockey games he had to miss because he was working.

It may sound so banal as to make you question why that’s a warm fuzzy, but there’s something comfortably wonderful about the cozy knowledge that we’ll be right where we belong. Especially on bad-brain days, I crave stability and predictability, so here’s to a night like many, many others.

And thank heavens for warm fuzzy thoughts because it’s currently -31°C (-24°F), and poor Steven is walking home! Then my walk to work tomorrow will look like this… brr

Wednesday morn -42C Sunny, Feels like -52

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Ok, despite the inspirational title, It’s not that kind of post.

This is a post about washing your hands.

Or, at least, that’s where it started.

I’ve been doing my best to avoid getting sick during flu season for the past few years: getting enough sleep, eating (sorta) well, and most importantly — getting the damn flu shot! And in addition to those basics, the other basic is employing proper hand-washing technique [source: the CDC]:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ended up with “Happy Birthday” stuck in my head at work because I’m silently singing it to myself as I lather my hands.

Anyway, yes. I dutifully go through the song twice when washing my hands… except…

Except when there’s someone else in the washroom at the same time. When that happens, I default to my previous hand-washing routine where I just get ’em wet, cover ’em with soap, and rinse ’em off. In and out, lickety split.

Why? Why am I so self-conscious about washing my hands?

Ok, I can tell you why. It’s my dumb social anxiety and my somewhat intense need to not interact with anyone in the washroom. But it’s not so strong it needs to interfere with my Quest for Health. (No shame to anyone for whom this *is* a deal-breaker. Brains gonna brain.)

So this week I resolved to stick to my song and lather lather lather until I can wash those nasty germs away — even if there is someone else there.

And that’s when it hit me: maybe other people are doing the same thing I had been.

I’ve never witnessed anyone at work washing their hands for the proper amount of time. But maybe they’re doing it when I’m not around? Or maybe they’re not, but they know they should be. Either way, acting as an example may trigger my anxiety a bit, but it does that less when I think of it as doing a purposeful demonstration for the good of General Office Health.

I am well aware I over-think things. And there’s every chance no one will even notice except maybe to be like “who’s that weird chick who washes her hands for so long?” But whatever. If I can inspire even one person to wash their hands longer just one time, it could be the time that person would’ve come down with something righteously nasty, and I saved them by also saving myself.

You’re welcome, random co-worker. You’re welcome.

Relaxing About Meditation

Apparently this week is a series about my new self care routine and how I’m handling it. Neat!

I grew up doing Transcendental Meditation (TM) with my family, so that’s always been what “meditation” means to me. I knew other types of meditation existed, I just didn’t bother trying any of them for most of my life.

Then I attended a conference that covered entheogens, how brains work, and the nature of reality. The day of programming ended with a guided group meditation. That 10-minute experience was more profound and relaxing than almost any of my 20-minute TM sessions. (This may have had something to do with the shared nature of the experience — I recognize that.)

Ever since then I’ve wanted to explore other meditation options (especially since I haven’t found a ton of benefit from my TM practice over the last several years). I did try a “beginning meditation” course, but I bounced off the instructor so that wasn’t helpful. My brother gifted me a book that’s a guide to many different types of meditation, but I found I can’t really get into meditation via reading — it just doesn’t work for me. I know there are phone apps for guided meditation, but having to fiddle with my phone doesn’t appeal to me in terms of getting in the right head-space for meditation.

Then last week while I was lying on the yoga mat getting ready to do my TM practice, I had the bright idea to try asking my Google Home to play “10-minute guided meditation”, and bam! Instant guided meditation. Cool!

That’s when I ran into my next problem: my brain. (Why does it always have to be my brain?)

I’ve been doing TM on and off for over 30 years. Doing something else, especially something that takes less time, felt a little like failure. I know that a) not all types of meditation are right for all people at all times of their life, and b) the frequency of a meditation practice is more important than the duration of the sessions (at least according to that meditation teacher I didn’t like). But tell that to my damn emotions.

I did! I did tell that to my damn emotions.

They didn’t exactly listen. I still get an uncomfortable flutter in my stomach when I even think about doing something different from my decades-long routine, but I truly feel that changing things up will be better for me. I know that right now I’ll get more out of something different and a little more structured.

I will probably keep doing TM several times a week, but (especially in the morning when time is more precious) I’ve insisted to myself it’s ok to do something different and shorter. The ability to do this feels very akin to my triumph at learning to stop doing yoga when it hurts.

As I’ve said before, I’m not really into new year’s resolutions, so the fact that all this is coming together right at the beginning of 2020 is mostly coincidental. But maybe 2020 will be a year of learning to let go of behaviours that don’t serve me. Who knows?

And heck, if you do have recommendations for meditation apps, let me know in the comments (and let me know *why* you think they’re good). At some point I might be ready/willing to incorporate that extra step in my process. Gasp! Who am I even becoming?

(Someone better. Or at least healthier. That’s who.)

Letting Go of Perfection

This is a topic I come back to often — and in almost every aspect of my life. While there are some up-sides to being a perfectionist (I usually turn in pretty darn good work!), there are also plenty of down-sides. One of the biggest for me is I let my desire to get-things-just-right and do-them-completely get in the way of doing things at all.

I know I’m far from the first person to experience (or write about) this, so I’m not here to lecture you about it. If you deal with this too (and I know so many people who do!), you already know it. Instead, I’m here to celebrate a small way I’ve managed to let go — in a way I’ve never managed to achieve before.

Yesterday I wrote about how I’ve picked up my yoga and meditation practice again. Exercise of any sort tends to be a place where I get stopped up. When I finally make myself do it, I want to really *do it*. Then I hurt myself because I go too hard too soon. This has happened more times than I can count. (And I would have had to start counting several decades ago.)

This time I decided not to let that happen. Of course, deciding something and actually doing it are two different things — I’d made that same decision before and didn’t stick with it. This time, however, I’ve actually followed through, and I am honestly kinda giddy about it.

I am happy to report that I have cut short or significantly altered my yoga sessions four times. (I’ve only been at it for a little over a week, so this is a significant number.)

I’m not sure I’ve ever bragged about quitting before, but right now I totally am. Every time, I felt a muscle twinge or a nerve being pinched, I slowly came back to centre then called it quits for that session (or rested in child’s pose until the video moved onto something I thought I could handle). Could I have forged ahead and kept going without doing damage? Maybe. (But at least one of those times it was very unlikely.)

But why risk it? Is it worth it to finish that YouTube session with an instructor who doesn’t actually know I exist? My perfectionist brain says YES.

But I’m smarter than my brain.

Suck it brain — I’m taking care of myself.

 

Small Steps

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. It’s nice to think about ways I can make 2020 better than 2019, but I’m more into continuous improvement. Sometimes having an arbitrary day to start something new helps (I prefer to start new routines on Mondays as opposed to mid-week), but I used to fall into the procrastination trap all too easily. “I don’t want to start X right now because I have That Thing next weekend. I should wait until after.” “[Arbitrary date] would be a good time to start X because it’s a holiday.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

That’s why I didn’t wait until the new year to start getting back to my yoga and meditation practice. I’d let it fall off quite a bit over the latter months of last year. During my holiday break, I decided I was sick of feeling tired and creaky so often, so I started near-daily practice of both yoga and meditation again — before the calendar clicked over to 2020. (It was only a few days before Jan 1, but it’s the principle that counts — I didn’t let the calendar dictate when I’d start my self care.)

It’s only been about a week, but I’ve already noticed a difference. Even before I re-started the regular yoga, I’d been doing a basic toe-touch stretch a few times a day in which I’d breathe deeply, hold it briefly, then let it all out slowly. Every time I did that, my spine would crackle like a bowl of breakfast cereal. I’d keep breathing and stretching until the crackling stopped.

Now, roughly a week later, when I do that stretch, almost no popping to speak of! It’s a little thing, but it’s really neat to get a measurable result so quickly.

I wouldn’t necessarily know I had made that progress if I hadn’t already been doing that one stretch. So I’m going to keep this in mind as I move forward with this (and any other) self-improvement effort. Stuff is happening. As long as I’m putting in the work, things are getting better. I might not always be able to see or feel it, but it’s occurring just the same.

Knowing that helps.