Top Five tips to Rock Working from Home

It’s a bad habit many of us have to let our routines become chores. We just kind of accept that the routine is going to suck but, what are you gonna do? You gotta work, right? With many more people working from home during the pandemic and a number of companies exploring longer term work from home policies here’s a few ideas for creating a work from home routine that doesn’t suck.

  1. Lunch time: This is the easiest answer to where some mid-day you time comes from. Lunch hours are there because it’s no secret our brains need breaks. Humans are just not designed for 8-9 hours of focused work. So leave your work station during your lunch time. Even if it’s as simple as moving from your office space or computer desk and sitting in your kitchen to eat. In a small space like a small condo or apartment just make sure you’re in a different seat that allow your body to relax and perhaps facing a different direction – like out a window – so you’re not just staring at your computer from another angle.

2. When the work day is done, Shut down. Walk away. Be done. This was my absolute biggest challenge working from home. Work was always right there. I could just pop in to the office and… and, and, and… it never ended. I was always just a thought away from work mode and it made life difficult. I couldn’t really relax and just focus on the time and people I was with. Don’t get sucked in to the vortex of always working just because it’s right there.

3. Find a task management system you like. It’s easy to finish a work day and wonder what you even did all day and where the time went. Whether it’s an old fashioned to-do list, a task management app you’re loyal to or a time-tested strategy like the Pomodoro system – find a way to manage your tasks that you will like and use, and that will allow you to know you got done what you needed to.

4. Don’t forget to move and hydrate. If you’re like me and wear a fitbit then it will remind you to take a minimum number of steps per hour. Apple watches have a similar feature but it’s also just as effective to set hourly reminders on your phone to have a stretch, pace around a bit, look out a window… anything that means you aren’t stuck in one position all day long. Same with hydration. There’s apps that will remind you, as will simple phone reminders or drink wear with time-goals on it. Regardless of how you go about it don’t get sucked in to a work vortex and forget to look after yourself.

5. Stay connected. If your workplace has work-approved methods of staying in contact like an employee chat then use it. If they don’t have this type of set up then go ahead and reach out to text your colleagues from time to time. Whether it’s to pick their brain the way you would if they were just the next office over or for a little water cooler chat don’t let working from home become extra isolating.

Overall, think about the parts of your workday that you enjoy the most and how you can build a schedule and routine that flows and balances all of your needs. It should include focus time and allow you to be a badass powerhouse but also should include time that nourishes you and boundaries that let you be so much more than a workaholic.

Drop a comment with your fave work from home tips, tricks and routines!

Let’s Connect

Seashell & Mermaid

Just wanted to pop in with a plug for my cute little etsy shop Seashell & Mermaid =)

Here’s a few of my fave designs – but I also do custom work! Think that sweet t-shirt you’ve always wished you could find, or sets for bachelorette and besties groups! Just drop me a line and we can talk about styles, colours and everything else to make your vision a reality.

Find all my designs here:

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SeashellandMermaid

2019 In Review

Last year around this time I took some time to reflect on my first year of blogging. Back then this blog was called Oh My Mermaid – it launched in early 2018 and it was great to see how the first year went. Those stats and that review told me a lot about the response I had gotten and motivated me to keep showing up and putting myself out here.

Of course reflecting should be a habit we do annually, at least, if not more. So here I am reviewing 2019.

Curious thing about 2019’s stats. They demonstrate that there’s still a growing audience for this blog – and oh my god I’m so grateful for that revelation I could cry. More on that in a bit. What 2019’s stats reveal more so than 2018’s did, though, is my life offline.

See, 2018 showed great growth from launch onward. 2019 shows a slower, more steady growth but fewer blog posts, fewer words. A symptom of a complicated and changing life offline.

I wrote about that in my last post, titled It’s Time for a New Chapter – have a read if you want more on that.

In those changes and the battles that were going on I lost a part of myself and the blog suffered because of it. Now I’m back. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time and just as losing myself took away from the blog, finding myself has started me writing again.

I want to take a moment now and really tell you – from the bottom of my heart – thank you for reading. Even when I was distant and posts were few and far between. Even when I seemed so far away and you may of thought I’d forgotten and abandoned this blog all together… I hadn’t. And this little corner of the internet has been a source of motivation to get to a good and healthy place in life. Writing for this blog – even bits and pieces I never published – has helped me sort and understand my own feelings. Messages I’ve received after posting have reminded me how much I’m part of a community and never alone. I am so grateful to my readers and well, ’tis the season to let ya’ll know you truly mean so much to me.

So without further ado, a few stats from the previous year and a promise to post a 2020 sneak peak, just as I posted a 2019 sneak peak this time last year.

While I made 72 posts in total for 2018 I only made 18 posts in 2019… actually seeing that stat today was kind of a shock. I knew I had lost myself in what was going on offline but I didn’t totally realize how much of myself I’d lost.

Still, despite the scattered posts I had more views and more visitors this year – that… that fills me with gratitude and hope. I had 6713 views from 3362 visitors. As I said last year – not half bad, but with room to grow!

I grew from 103 followers to 160 here on wordpress.

I switched my facebook page to a new Tea With Carmen one – leaving the old Oh My Mermaid page – please come join if you haven’t yet.

I grew from 163 followers on twitter to 200 even and counting with every tweet – it’s a weird habit to get back in to!

On instagram I held even – not to shabby given long absences.

I have some new social strategies I want to try going in to 2020 and I’m excited to be coming back to the online projects I started with such passion.

As promised, stay tuned for a 2020 sneak peak shortly after Christmas and some new comment in January! Drop a comment with any requests so I can get to work bringing you content you’ll love =)

Getting a “Real Job”

Let me start by saying I always resented that phrase – “real job” – as if the way I earned my money wasn’t actual work. People loved to ask if I was applying at “real jobs” or if I’d thought about giving up teaching for a “real job”. Working from home as a freelance English as a Second Language Teacher was nothing short of a real job. From the very basics of performing a task and getting paid to the more complex work of planning, preparing and continuously training, teaching was meaningful, challenging and real work.

Still, this kind of teaching lacks a certain stability. It’s hard to plan your life or build serious financial goals when your pay varies widely in the wake of world events, holidays and student availability.

Not to mention that you end up teaching during your own countries holidays and off on vacation during holidays from other parts of the world. It’s not the worst but still, it’s hard to explain why you taught on Christmas eve and then relaxed all through February (Chinese New Year).

The last few months have brought a lot of change to my life. While I do still love the work flow I had built I also wanted to try something new.

So I went out and did it – I got myself one of those “real jobs” people talk about. No more “real” in the actual doing of work, but substantially more stable and a better hourly wage.

I’m now happily working away full time in a call centre – I got lucky and found one that lines up super well with my existing skills and interests. There’s a sort of taboo around being okay with call centre work. It’s not supposed to be a “good enough” job to warrant anything nearing job satisfaction but so far it’s been a good experience. So good, in fact, that there’s already talk of me “levelling up” my training. Hello, raise!

Not to mention it brings me back to my favourite town. The place where my Grandfather lived, my dad grew up, and I went to school. It feels like coming home.

Don’t worry – I’m not abandoning all my at home hustle. The social media management business and Etsy shop continue to evolve and remain close to my heart. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus while the dust settled on the new job and other life changes. That dust is settling, though. Soon all the changes will be official in blog posts and I’ll keep ya’ll posted with the changing realities of working from home and working from well, not home.

What Nobody Tells You About Working From Home

Working from home – or earning a living working from anywhere, therefore allowing you to travel while working – is definitely glorified in our culture. When I tell people about what I do they often say I’m lucky or that it must be nice. They’re not totally wrong but there’s a few things nobody tells you about working from home.

It’s Lonely

This is the best kept secret of the work from home crowd. Honestly, I talk to people from morning to night – literally I start teaching kiddos between 5 and 7am, and I finish teaching adults at 10 or 11pm. I talk, talk, talk all day long and when I finally shut the microphone off I still feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

That’s partly because even though I talk to people all day long I often have the same conversation over and over again – Hello what’s your name? My name is Carmen. Where do you live? I live in Canada. What do you do? Wow that sounds stressful…” and on it goes.

Even when I’m not teaching, I’m writing and blogging. This is a little different because I don’t write the same thing over and over but I also don’t get a lot of direct interaction with the people who are reading what I write.

Cabin Fever is an Occupational Hazard

Along with the loneliness get ready to have a love-hate relationship with your house. It’s my home. I picked this furniture. I put it where I wanted it. This is where my super comfy beds are. This is where my favorite pillows are. There’s a recliner and nice places to read a book or watch TV.

But oh my gooooosh get me OUT of here. I wake up, work, eat, exercise, entertain myself, work again and sleep here. I’ve gone for car rides to the gas station just to be somewhere that isn’t there. Working from home might be the dream but from personal experience our brains need a change of scenery. It’s a requirement. Sometimes the best thing I can do is go do some blogging or social media client work from Starbucks.

It’s real easy to gain a ton of weight

Seriously. All I do is sit at my desk. Unless I make the conscious decision to go down to the treadmill or out for a walk it’s easy to pass the whole day without moving a whole lot.

And your whole kitchen is, like, RIGHT THERE. So eating a lot is super easy.

It’s a recipe for weight gain (Trust me , I know. Keep an eye out for my posts about my weight loss journey.)

People Forget that you Work

Yeah, your family is included in this. You’re there when they leave to work and you’re there when they get home. They don’t work at home. Home is just about relaxation and hobbies and family time for them. They kind of forget that it’s like, also your office building.

This goes for friends, too. They imagine that since there isn’t like, a manger or a boss watching you work you could just leave at any time to go do fun things with them.

While it might be true that you set your own schedule you probably have some time requirements and can’t just leave on a whim. Even if you leave on a whim, the work you were gonna do during that time still has to get done so even if they don’t see it you’ll be putting those hours in – be it afternoon or after midnight.

There’s a Million More Distractions Than A Regular Office

In a regular office I feel like a sort of hive-mind kicks in. Even if you’re having trouble focusing everyone else is working that that kind of prompts you to re-focus and get with the program. When I worked in an office it felt way easier to find the next task and get it done because usually everyone else was working so I could feel the groupthink guiding me to work too. This was important, too, because if the whole office wasn’t working then the whole office wasn’t working. A distraction for one became a distraction for many and nothing got done so there was a true sense of value in that groupthink must-work atmosphere. At least if you were gonna go off task you needed to be discreet about it.

Have you ever heard of procasti-cleaning? This is where suddenly you feel the overwhelming urge to clean your whole house instead of doing work. The whole house needs a cleaning, anyway, right? So it’s not really procrastination because you’re still being productive, right? How about Netflix? So easy to access from home and no manager to catch you binge watching Riverdale instead of working.

As many of you know I’ve recently taken up as a demolition derby driver and the shop is right out back! I could be building a car instead of working!

So is it a Dream?

Working from home sounds awesome until you realize every part of your life that isn’t work is right there and it’s SO ridiculously hard to be productive.

Okay, so it’s still pretty awesome but before you make the jump consider that there are some serious risks and if you’re moving to freelance you might want to budget for membership to a co-work space or find another way to plan time out of the house doing something social!