Working from home isn’t as breezy and convenient when you are forced to do so, with no alternative. This is not just because collaboration is restricted to phone calls and Zoom meetings… There is a certain added weight when you have to consider the ramifications of leaving the house during a pandemic.
I’ve arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to WFH (especially now), work/life balance is a made-up concept. If you are like me, you have noticed that the lines become a lot more blurred when your commute is a 5-second walk instead of a 30-minute train ride into the city.
There are a few factors that come into play here…
- There is less (or zero) pressure to get dressed. When you no longer have to decide which work-appropriate shirt, pants, shoes, and accessories will comprise the day’s outfit, there is a certain carefreeness that results. For me, it is a blessing and a curse, because the way I dress affects my mood, and if I throw on random, non-matching pieces that are super comfortable, my brain is not in “Rise and grind!” mode. I don’t want to get in the habit of wearing sweats and a t-shirt every single day; it adds to the monotony that is COVID life.
- Your living quarters are also your work quarters. We live in a condo, not a house. About half of my friends do, so they have a designated office (or 2) in their homes. My work space is a round dining room table that also serves as my Etsy (jewelry) shop workspace. When you literally cannot separate your home space from your work space, it makes it a lot more difficult to set up boundaries between the two. I unplug my large desktop monitor at 6ish pm each Friday and put it on the floor against the wall to force myself to take a break from work for the weekend. If I didn’t, I GUARANTEE that I’d be tempted to get a head start on a few work projects on my days off. I’m home most of the time, so why not? It would be similar to if I lived in the building I worked in: the convenience of being so close would override my need to take a break.
- We are anxious about leaving the house because of the pandemic. There was a period of time in 2020 when I would make myself leave the house a couple times a week for walks. Now that there is a newer, more contagious strain of the virus going around, I’m less inclined to go outside except to run necessary errands. It doesn’t help that it is about 40 degrees outside at any given time right now… I am not a fan of winter weather.
- It’s easy to lose track of time. All too many times, I’ve buried myself in my work only to look up and realize it’s 1:30pm and I haven’t had lunch. I often ate at my desk when I worked at the office, so being at home is not much different, save for the fact that I use the stove instead of the microwave for my lunches. There aren’t any restaurants in walking distance to me, and the fees for delivery can get pretty ridiculous, so I cook every. single. day. I can’t really complain: I have food in the house. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I miss the Friday bagel runs I used to make with my coworkers, or the occasional blackened catfish sandwich I’d grab at the bar across the street from my job.
Something’s gotta give. It’s too easy to get stuck in a rut these days… I’m going to make a conscious effort to shake things up by ordering breakfast or lunch every few weeks and adding a calendar reminder for a weekly walk around the block. Cozy clothes aside, this WFH shit is getting old.