Andrew's Working from Home Schedule + Tips

Andrew is taking over the blog today! I thought it would be fun to get his perspective on a few things He will be doing a guest post roughly once every two weeks or so (unless we see there is a lot of love, we can bump this up!!). Today's post came from the notion that it might be helpful to hear how he's dealing with working from home, seeing as he is coming from an office environment. I hope this is useful and without further adieu, we will let Andrew take it away from here... 

Now that we all have adjusted to life within our own walls for a few weeks, Krista wanted me to share my tips for maintaining my sanity while working from home. Granted, doing this for three weeks certainly doesn’t make me an expert. But I do feel like I’ve found a groove. I don’t want to work from home forever, but at this point, it’s going quite well.

I will get into my typical day below, but if I had to boil this down to one element, it’s to develop a routine. Most people are reliant on routine. Think about babies. They wake up, get fed, go back for a nap, wake up, get fed, have playtime, have some diapers changed, get fed, go to sleep again. The reason for doing this is to get the baby into a routine. Doing this enough will acclimate them to the flow of a day. We need to be taught to sleep during the night, wake up in the morning, and eat at certain intervals. If it worked for you as a baby, it will work again now.

The second piece of advice is to separate your weekday routine from your weekend. It is dangerously easy to lose track of the days in these circumstances. There really isn’t a difference anymore between a Tuesday and a Friday. But you should keep your weekend as a treat. Without 7-8 hours of work on your docket on Saturday or Sunday, it’s important to make those days feel special.

I am -- and always have been -- a creature of habit. It took me until my adulthood to realize this. At some point when I began to have a job, it became apparent quickly that late bedtimes and poor eating habits weren’t going to work anymore. So I made some changes

I am firm believer in living a holistically healthy life, and having a dependable routine is part of that; at least for me. It’s been hard to define that in this era of self-isolation, but I’m happy with my routine now.

7:15 am - Alarm goes off. This is the same time I would wake up when I had to go into the office. I found it important to continue to get up at that time in order to make the eventual readjustment easier, and because I knew it was going to be easy to sleep later and later each day if I didn’t.

7:30a - I’m out of bed. I wash my face, brush my teeth, put my contacts in, and put on some clothes. During the week this generally means jeans and a hoodie. No need to dress for the office, but definitely don’t wear sweatpants. No one has ever been productive in sweatpants. Unless you’re a professional napper.

7:45a - Meditate. There is a caveat here. I am not a regular meditator. This year for Lent, instead of giving something up -- aren’t we all giving up more than ever this year? -- I chose to commit to meditating every day. I did it last year too and loved it. At the beginning of Lent, we weren’t isolated yet, but now that we are, it’s nice to continue this as part of my routine. It’s an awesome way to start the day with a fresh mindset. I purchased Headspace on a monthly basis to help me with this. It’s not cheap at $12.99 per month, but there is a free two-week trial for new users. I recommend it. When you think about it, $12.99 is a mere pittance for mental well-being. 

8:00a - This is my favorite part of my new at-home routine. I make breakfast! In normal circumstances, I would be throwing together a sandwich for lunch at this time. But with no commute before logging on, I have ample time to make a real breakfast. I turn my Bluetooth speaker on in the kitchen, throw some Duke Ellington on Spotify, and take my time making breakfast and coffee. One of the unforeseen pleasures of this quarantine has been that I’ve discovered jazz. I love it now. Depending on how I’m feeling I will make something different for breakfast. Usually, it’s a huge bowl of steel-cut oats. I add granola, a sliced banana, a handful of blueberries, chia seeds, cinnamon, and flax seeds. It is quite hearty.

8:30a - This is when I sit down in front of my computer with my power oatmeal and hot coffee. I set up my screen with all my necessary sites and apps, peruse emails that came in overnight, catch up on some news, and slowly transition into work mode.

9:00a - This is when my workday starts in earnest. I have finished my breakfast and am now receiving Slacks, emails, and reminders to join meetings.

9:00a - 5:00p - It’s hard to properly describe what happens between these hours because it is so dependent on the day. Sometimes I have tons of Zoom meetings and calls. Others have lots of free time built in where I can catch up on other longterm projects.

But I think it’s important to mention that I never sit in front of my screen for these eight hours without interruption. I wouldn’t do that in the office, and I won’t do it at home. It is so important to take breaks, get up, walk around, make lunch, watch a YouTube video, etc. Krista and I will often take 45 minutes or so during the late morning to go for a walk. I love how that breaks up my day. If we come back from our walk around noon, it’s the perfect “halftime” for my day. I can’t stress this enough, but you should absolutely feel empowered to step away when you need. 

5:00p - I close my computer and put it away. It can be so easy to feel obligated to continue to answer emails and Slacks that come in throughout the evening. That does not in any way mean you need to stay "plugged in" because you are home. In normal circumstances, I would leave the office and have a nice 25-minute walk home to decompress and clear my head. Without that transition from work to leisure, it's imperative to pick a time when work is "over" for the day. For me, it's 5p. It might be different for you, but you should definitely pick a time and stick to it.

5:00p - Once I'm done for the day and my computer is closed, I work out. If this isn't your thing, that's totally fine. My point is you should find something that acts as a transition the way your commute normally would. For me, it's a 30-45 minute workout. I have been doing so much yoga, and it's actually pretty amazing how much I can already feel the changes it has made to my flexibility and core strength in three short weeks. I mix in some P90x3 workouts that don't require weights, exercise band work, or even stair workouts. I never do these all on the same day of course, but I mix it up throughout the week as to not get bored. 

5:45p - I'm normally done with my workout, but not quite ready to start making dinner. More often than not, I have been using this time for some video games. I do not consider myself a gamer per se, but I do still enjoy them from time to time.

6:30p - This is when I start making dinner. I could do an entire blog post on the various meals I make for dinner, but generally speaking, I'm done and we're eating by ...

7:30p - We are seated eating dinner. During dinner, we normally watch something on our DVR. It's usually either Shark Tank or Jeopardy.

8:00p - Dishes are done or in the dishwasher and I am in the shower. 

8:30p - I am out of the shower, changed, contacts out and glasses on. This is also when I FaceTime or call my parents. I'm sure most of you can relate to the feeling of not being able to see your families and worrying about them. We are so close to our families, and the lack of an ability to see them has been the hardest part of this whole ordeal by far. Normally, Krista and I go up to my parents' house every Sunday for dinner, grocery shopping, and some personal interaction with them, my sister, and my brother-in-law. Those Sunday dinners have been replaced by group FaceTimes. It's a blessing to have that ability, but it's still hard. We also had to cancel a trip to celebrate Krista's mom's birthday (a milestone birthday) last month. Call your parents. Call your siblings, friends, cousins, neighbors, whatever you got. Every single person is going through the same thing and probably feeling the same way you are. This is the shared human condition. It can feel reassuring talking to someone who feels the same way you do. Try it.

9:00p - The curtains go up at Le Cinéme LeRay. That just means that Krista and I start watching a movie at this time. You probably know by now that we are embarking on a journey through the Oscars, watching every Best Picture winner from 1987 (my birth year) through today. We have plenty to get through, so this will take us a while.

11:00p - The credits are rolling, the lights coming up, and the popcorn sweepers making their way through the seats. That's my cue to get to bed. But how do I fall asleep so early? I know it has been hard for a lot of people to get to bed at a normal time. I have to be honest, I have been sleeping like a rock during all of this. I can't pinpoint why, but I believe it's because I have committed to this routine, which is guaranteed to make me tired. My day starts at 7:15a and I fill it with a combination of mental stimulation, work, and plenty of physical activity. By the time 11p comes around, I'm tired. If you aren't, wait until you're 33 and then update me.

11:30p - I am sawing logs. I like to read when I get into bed, so I do that for anywhere from one to 25 minutes, depending on how long it takes me to drop my Kindle on my face out of exhaustion. This is why it takes me six months to get through a book. Still, I like to read and use this time to do so. Once I'm done reading, I'm normally asleep within minutes.

Rinse, repeat, and continue indefinitely. 

I should say at this point that despite my new routine and commitment to schedule, I still don't love this situation that we're in. I unquestionably would much rather be doing my normal routine during the week, going to the office, interacting with people, going to the gym, etc. 

But this is our temporary reality. Make the most of it. Do not be a victim to its maliciousness. Control what you can and power through.

At the end of all this, we can all get back to regular lives, complaining about work and longing to spend a Saturday under a blanket watching movies...

So what's your routine? Should I be doing something differently? Do you have further suggestions? I would love to hear them.

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