The Working Woman of 2020: Office Not Required

Exactly five months ago, I started working from home. I can’t tell if it feels like a long time ago or a short time ago. For all I know, time has ceased to exist.

Jokes aside, remote work was foreign for me. I was physically in an office every day for a decade. I created a space I loved working in. I enjoyed being close to the team in NJ. I had grown fond of traveling to Chicago at least once per quarter. (That city really started to grow on me!) I wore JEANS. What a wild time.

Fast forward to today, I spoke on a panel about adjusting successfully to remote work. The truth is that I am still evolving what I need to do to feel “normal” at home. Yesterday morning ( we’re talking 24 hours before I spoke on a panel about working from home successfully) I had a melt down. Celeste hasn’t transitioned well to the freedom of her toddler bed so we had a rough night. I wasn’t feeling great and the lack of sleep didn’t help. My calendar was packed straight from 9:30-5:30. I was trying to let Chris sleep in but I knew I was running WAY behind. I went downstairs to try and finally get out the door and I noticed my perfect good boy pup left a TURD on my favorite carpet. I burst into ugly tears and I am not a crier. Chris ended up cleaning the turd, driving Celeste to daycare, and ordering us breakfast. I sat in the passenger seat like, well, a sad turd. By the time I got breakfast and was ready to work it all seemed comedic but let me tell you –> I’m still figuring this all out.

Now that was a rough start but I was still able to pick up the pieces and rebound to make it an all around productive day. What helped me re-calibrate from that “false start” was relying on some rules and boundaries I put in place for myself.

  1. Use Your Tribe. When I feel like a hot mess, I share it. I had short exchanges of grief with a few friends about how my morning started. It took five to ten minutes and a friendly ear. This has been KEY to feeling normal during this time. Society has encouraged us to compartmentalize what happens at home and at work. But guess what, the lines have blurred even more as a majority of people work from home. Thank God because NEWS FLASH: we are the same human whether we are working or watching a movie on the couch with a glass of wine. Its OK normal to need to vent and share whats happening in your life. In fact, after I shared what a shitty morning I had, I felt 1000x better and my mind was excited to work. Take advantage of those digital interactions to dig deeper with people you trust. If you see someone visibly rattled, ask if they are OK. When someone in your circle tells you that they need to vent, try and make time for them.
  2. Calendar Blocking. With Celeste back at daycare, we have strict time blocks for safe drop off and pick up. I block my calendar at these times to ensure I have a clear schedule. I also block my lunch. My lunchtime is my recharge time. My lunch block is how I rack up my 3-4 workouts per week. I also make sure I have a legitimate meal where I can take a breather and enjoy. Making clear time blocks allows me to know when its time to focus on work or when its time to focus on myself or my family.
  3. Physical Feel Goods. Both practices so far are focused on your mental state. But focusing on your physical self is critical. Make sure you do something that makes you feel physically good about yourself each day. Whether that means wearing your favorite earrings, finishing a workout, or getting dressed up with no where to go. Do it for you!
  4. Make Time for Friends. You don’t always choose your family or coworkers but you do choose your friends. Out of all the tips, I struggle with this one because I get wrapped up in my to-do list of things that “need” to get done and sometimes cut into the friend time blocks. Once a month I have my book club. I also try and schedule time with other amazing women in my life to grab a drink or bite to eat. Each time I wrap up a night with a friend, my heart just feels full and revitalized.

The big secret I’ve figured out for working successfully in a remote environment aren’t work specific tips at all. NONE of those items listed above are solely work related. The biggest learnings for me were simply this: Be kind to one another in a way that allows a space to share, create time for loved ones, do things to feel good about yourself. When those things are aligned, feeling motivated at work is effortless.

Let me end with one more hot mess story. Two weeks into quarantine, Chris and I both had calls at the same time for 30 minutes. We were in the same room together and laid out toys for Celeste but she wasn’t having it. I made the ultimate Mama hail mary play and gave her my cell phone and opened up YouTube. Ten minutes into my call, I hear her chit-chatting with a man with a dutch accent that sounded strikingly like my boss–because it was my boss. My two year old called my boss. Mortifying for me but luckily he thought it was hysterical! Good times.

Please share mortifying stories or your own tips below 🙂

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