Last year was a big year of change for me. Not only was I getting married and moving to Philadelphia, I was going to be moving far away from my family and dearest friends. Not many of you know this, but in Rhode Island I worked for my dad alongside my brother, sister in law, cousin and more. I saw some family members every single day. In fact, my cousin and I even lived together for two years! While I was so excited to begin this whole new life, the thought of leaving Rhode Island left me choked up on many occasions.
When I began to look for jobs in the Philadelphia area, I didn’t know that it would be possible to continue working for my father from home in Philadelphia. Luckily, with the amazing expertise of my brother (our IT guy and much, much more), we were able to figure out a way for that to work! While I don’t see my family every day anymore, I am so happy to still be a part of the family business and talk to many of them on work related business on a daily basis.
Working from home has brought on new challenges. It is NOT easy. Yes, I feel so blessed that I am able to do this, but it was a major adjustment. Over the last six months I have finally learned what works for me, and a recent Ask Me Anything question sparked this post.
“I am pretty sure that since you moved to Philly you are working from home (if I’m wrong feel free to ignore!) – a few questions on that front: How do you stay motivated to focus on work? Where do you work? (Office? Living room? Kitchen?) How come you don’t go for runs at ‘lunch’ time rather then getting up super early or at night? How do you not eat all day long?!?”
First, let me set up the scene for you. My daily winter routine:
6 AM: Alarm goes off. Grumble about it being so early. Hit Snooze.
-If it’s a morning workout day: Roll out of bed with a smile, change into workout clothes, brush teeth and head out for a workout with PhillyBoy (yes, we mostly exercise at the same time, but not always together).
-Make breakfast while PB showers and makes the bed. Pack his lunch if I haven’t packed it yet. If I am feeling extra nice, I make him coffee.
-PB leaves for work and I jump in the shower. I blow dry my hair as fast as possible and consider throwing my pjs back on. I don’t, but I settle for almost that bad. For example, right now I am wearing PB’s Princeton sweats, an Old Navy tank, long sleeve thermal shirt, socks, and slippers. I wore this same outfit Monday & Tuesday, only having changed the socks to fresh ones.
-I quickly do 10 minutes of cleaning as fast as possible, unless the clock is past 7:45. In that case I put on a pot of tea and make my breakfast.
-I sit at my desk (which is set up in the guest room) and eat breakfast while checking emails and reading blogs. I don’t fully get settled into work for another 20 minutes, but I eat my lunch and afternoon snack at my desk too, so I make up for the time. I watch Hulu on my laptop while I work, which helps me not get distracted (sounds counterintuitive but it works). While I make my lunch I do a quick load of laundry or empty the dishwasher or some other menial home task.
-When the day is over I try to remember what my Nonna taught me about looking nice for my husband, but instead I stay in my sweats.
I thought that I would wear real outfits every day, but it is too easy to just work in comfy clothes and not bother spending the time to get properly dressed. It has made me really appreciate those moments when I get out of the house, and I try to look nice on those days. I was having lunch with Leslie almost once a week, but work and life have been too busy lately to allow that. So for now I eat all my meals during the day at my desk.
View from the door:
View from the window:
Here are my tips on working from home.
1. Remove all distractions.
I can’t focus on my work when Mela Mia (my laptop) is staring me in the face with sparkly blogs to read and emails to reply to, so I watch Hulu. It really works for me because I get to listen to the latest junky TV show or news segment while working, and I don’t get distracted. In the same regard, I keep the guest room clean at all yimes. I shut the door completely and focus on what is going on in the room, at the desk. If I think about the dish that needs to be washed or the toilet that needs cleaning, I can’t focus on my work until that task is done. On days where the house is a mess, I start work 30 minutes late so I can get those tasks done, and then work later that evening. That way I don’t get distracted thinking about the mess.
2. Plan your meals.
Eating was a major issue for me those first few months. In fact, I contribute working from home to the few lbs I gained after our wedding. The kitchen was RightThere, and every time I got stuck on an order or needed a break or felt a little hungry I would head into the kitchen and eat a snack. I keep our kitchen well stocked with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods, but of course I also have chocolate and fun treats. I ate all the fun foods first, and my pants got tight. Now I plan breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack to have every day. I know that when I get hungry, the next meal is only a short time away, and by planning something healthy, I don’t raid the chocolate in the freezer as often.
3. Get out.
In the same regard, I try to get out of the house at least once a day or at the least once every other day. I do an errand or meet up with a friend (like Leslie!). CVS, the drycleaner, and Whole Foods are all less than a mile away. After work (and before PB gets home) I make an effort to run a small errand. At first I even purposefully didn’t buy certain items from the market so I would be forced to go back. Now I notice that if I don’t get out for a couple of days I start jabbering to myself or don’t stop talking from the minute PB gets home until we go to bed. That is not healthy. Get out of the house.*
*Note: Our gym is in our building, so I don’t consider the gym or an outdoor run to be “getting out”. Luckily, we just joined a gym and will be going to that one once or twice a week before work!
4. Work hard.
I noticed that it some ways working from home is easier. In Rhode Island my cousin and I would often chat for 20 minutes about the latest gossip or story, or we would all sit in the lunch room for 20 minutes slowly eating lunch. Without those small bits of time, I am able to get a lot more work done. When I am working now, I am working. I can accomplish a lot more in a shorter amount of time because I am completely focused on the task at hand.
5. Bites add up.
Admission: I no longer keep cereal in the house. Granola, fine. Oats, no problem. Yummy cereals, however? The enemy. At the beginning of fall I bought a box of Puffins. Two or three times a day I would go into the kitchen and fill this tiny bowl with a few puffins. I thought that over the course of the day I was eating a total of one serving. When I finished the box in a couple of days, I realized that every time I filled the bowl was an entire serving. Bites like that add up, and I know now to just not keep cereal in the house. This tip goes in line with item #2, plan your meals.
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Working From Home.
1. Even if you say you’ll dress up every day, you won’t.
2. Your friends will think that since you work from home you can meet them at any time to do any thing.
3. The kitchen will tempt you, even if you never had that issue before.
4. If you stay at home too long, you will start singing to yourself in crazy voices or read emails aloud with an accent. This is not ok, and is a sign to leave the house immediately!
5. Managing your time well will become your greatest asset.
6. Your friends will be jealous that you are working from home, and you’ll be jealous that they get to get dressed up and go to an office.
7. You will watch more TV than you used to, especially if you have two computers and like Hulu.
8. House bills will be higher.
9. If you smell delicious and you’re in a fresh outfit, it is a good day.
10. Your life will be more amazing than ever.
Now, please excuse me while I get back to my desk and my Hulu.