I’ve been working from home for over three years. I know the productivity hacks, the productivity killers, the steps in my routine that I need to do to stay energized.
I know not to keep my phone by my workspace. I know not to sit around in pajamas all day. I know not to indulge an urge for daytime television.
I know how to set boundaries with clients (or bosses)—how to keep regular working hours. I know how to beat back feelings of loneliness, isolation, giddiness that nothing is “real” outside an office.
Since the “Safer at Home” order went into effect, I find myself—impossibly—at almost the same starting point as office workers suddenly required to WFH for the first time ever.
On March 18, my friend who works in administration at a university called me to ask for my “best tips” for working from home.
When I picked up the phone, I was sitting on the floor of my living room, fear-scrolling through headlines, intermittently checking email, wearing yesterday’s pants.
“Oh, um, well, it helps if you have a strict routine,” I said. “So you don’t have to make a decision of what to do next every second of the day. It’s all planned out already.”
I ended the call and promptly decided to shovel a handful of dry cornflakes into my mouth.
After I spoke to many of my freelancer and entrepreneur friends, it became clear that my reaction was not unusual among the long-time work-from-home crowd.
We were: Course creators, freelance graphic designers, freelance writers, independent artists, consultants, and other online business owners.
And we were finding it impossible to concentrate enough to successfully work from home as we had been doing for years.
What was going on?
For about a week, I felt lots of guilt over my “failure” to continue to work from home as though nothing had changed.
But then I realized something: I was expecting myself to respond like a machine, not a human.
Would it really be a good sign if I had just shrugged off the pandemic and kept on, business as usual?
As a human, I was profoundly affected by the news—and by my fears for my elderly and sick loved ones, by my worries about the economy, by the general sense of panic and dread that was circulating through the air.
It made it feel ridiculous to continue to show up at 8 am on my laptop to write about marketing. Ultimately, I think that’s the most human reaction of all.
Finally, I’m starting to get back into a groove of working from home. I’m adjusting to the reality of not being able to meet-up with other freelancers to work together in a coffee shop, or to spend an afternoon at a coworking space.
And, like everyone else, I’m learning how to keep going through uncertainty.
Among the throngs of articles about “how to be productive at home,” I wanted to share an experience that I’ve found to be fairly common but rarely talked about.
Working from home right now is not the same as working from home in a more “normal” time. So if you’ve been working from home for a while… and now you’re struggling with it, it’s okay. We’re humans, not machines.
Content courtesy of Krista Walsh, creative copywriting for purpose-driven companies and passionate people
CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR, KRISTA WALSH
Krista Walsh writes website copy, blog posts, and product descriptions for small eCommerce companies and service-based solopreneurs. Her writing and messaging strategies help her clients speak to their customers’ values and emotions, for meaningful sales.
In her free time, she writes about purpose-driven business and freelance life at kristawalshcopywriter.com. On the off chance she’s not writing, she’s volunteering to walk the big ole’ dogs over at the Dog Café LA or watching (pretty bad honestly) TV dramas on Netflix.