Living in a world of high expectation

Hi guys,

Today’s post will be a bit different than the usual ones. I won’t share any tips, any deep thoughts. But I will complain a bit instead. It is going to be kind of weird, as the only thing I can complain about is myself. So let me introduce the story.

As probably most of the world does, you might be forced to self isolate yourself. This is our reality, we are trying to fight the pandemic which flooded the entire world in just couple of months. It might have sounded amazing on the beginning (I mean staying at home, not pandemic itself). You know, this time you are going to spend with your family, this projects you’ve never had time before to work on or just simple sitting on the couch and watching tv. Now you were about to take some time off or start working from home and who said you can’t watch tv while working?

Everything sounds perfect (except all the bad things happening outside, especially growing numbers of new cases and people who actually didn’t make it, but this is a different topic). But after some time, you might have realised, that nothing changed. You got this extra hours (even if you are still working from home, you don’t waste any time for commuting), but nothing changed at all. There is still no time to start this project, watching tv isn’t as relaxing as it sounded before and you might have even started to miss your work place.

If you have been reading my posts for a while, you might have noticed that I have never enough time. That my to do list is getting bigger and bigger, just because I keep adding to it without getting anything or just a bit done. I am getting too tired to do anything after working a night shift. I am trying to spend as much time with my son as I possibly can. But still my other things are being left behind.

My company used to be closed for over six weeks. I had tons of spare time. But my to do list have reached a world record for the biggest amount of task on it. I just couldn’t set myself to work.

Today I’ve started wondering, what’s happened? What am I doing with all this time given to me for free? And finally, why do I feel so tired, when I do almost nothing?

And I came to some conclusions. Or more likely I can see some possible options. But the most likely one is I can’t force myself to do anything, if I don’t have any expectations set upon me.

Normally, we live in a world where there are expectations regarding all aspects of our life you could possibly think of. What kind of worker you are, how does your household look like, what kind of a husband/wife, child, parent you are? These are just some of the aspects and no matter what you do, there will be someone who will try to prove that you are doing it wrong.

There are also different kind of expectations, which are even harder to live with. The ones which you set yourself. These are more harder, as every time if you’ll do “not well enough”, you’ll not have to wait for anyone to point it. This person will be already there. Just because it will be this part of you, which is never happy with your work. This voice in your head saying that you should have spent more time and your results would be much, much better.

So let me talk about these last expectations for a while. Before my son was born, I planned to keep my home spotless, so he can grow in the best environment I can provide for him at the time. And although my home is never a complete mess, it isn’t spotless either. There are the days, where there is sink full of pilling up dishes, clothes to wash already doubling size of my washing basket. There are a days, when I can’t get myself to iron (you would probably get scared after visiting spare room in my home). Or when the trash bin is asking me to take it out.

The image of me having a baby made me feel like I have to find a good night shift job, so we can provide for our son’s decent life. I was sure I will manage it easily. I was sure I will be a bit tired, but will manage it till my son will go to the school or till I will manage to figure out getting some kind of business going on from my home (which I haven’t even started to think about so far). I was sure and I was wrong at the same time.

Although it was obvious, I haven’t realised that as my son will be born, things won’t change for better. Of course, my son is the best person coming to my life, but he is also the most demanding one. Since he was born, I forgot what does spare time mean. I have no idea what detailed planning is, as the best I am able to do now is to have plans like: “during his nap time, I will…” or “while he plays with his toys, I will…” There isn’t any particular time. All my life has been sacrificed for this little human being (well, sacrificed isn’t the best word, but he became my reason to do everything I am doing, no matter how hard it gets). But this is not the problem itself. As I said, my son is the brightest sunshine in my life, I wouldn’t change this for anything else. There is only one problem. Expectations. Expectations set by other people, which I can always ignore (although, not always I can manage it quickly). Expectations set by my son, regarding our routine (which I am glad to have). And finally, the hardest ones, expectations set by myself.

Since I have realised that, I’ve decided to stop expect anything from myself. I can’t do anything about other people’s expectations, but I can stop myself from doing it. I will still make my plans and to do lists, but I’m going to look at them like they were some kind of guide, not my duty.

There will be sink full of dishes left overnight? That’s fine. Never ending pile of ironing? Amazing! Well, not so amazing, as eventually I will have to do them, but still ok. But what is more important, I will not let to define myself by the amount of chores I am doing each day or amount of tasks I am getting ticked out of my to do list. How is it going to go? I will definitely share it with you after some time, as I see any change (either for better or for worse).

But for now I am going to end this post. I hope you enjoyed reading it and if you have any thoughts or advises regarding expectations, you are very welcome to share them in the comment section. For now, I wish you a very productive day (without any expectations, though) and I’ll see you in my next post.

Daria

How to work at home and don’t get insane – 10 tips

Hi guys,

Today is a kind of delayed post. Everything what’s going on at the moment all around the world can be very depressing. A lot of us are in self-quarantine, trying to stay sane. Some of us are supposed to work from their home, very often juggling their private life like looking after children, home and all this everyday’s things we used to do after we returned from work.

I won’t lie, this situation got on me a bit. After spending couple of weeks at home, while my employer was working to provide save environment for us to work, we returned to our workplace, having huge amount of work. By the time we got used to, we found out that company is closing and successively there will be stuff reduction going on. Also not being able to meet our friends and family is harsh too.

However, for all of us life is still going on. Being advised (or even forced) to stay at home, we have tree options I can think of. First, is to break the rules and put yourself and possibly many others into the risk. Second, is to stay at home and cry over your situation (I have to admit, I was doing so for the last weeks, since my company closed – not literally crying, of couese). Or third, which seems the most sensible to me at the moment, is to try and make the best of the time we have at home.

The last option has a lot of advantages too. Let’s try and think about our life, before all this started. In my case, it was constant running. Juggling working full-time job, looking after my son and trying to keep my home relatively clean. Just a bit of sleeping and the whole circle kept starting all over again. There were a lot of projects I wanted to work on (I did actually, but not as much as I would like to), if I only had more time. And guess what? Now most of us have a lot of free time! And a lot of us need something to take our minds off of the situation in the world. So why not to use this time to do as many things from our when-I’ll-have-time to do list? And before you’ll say anything, just admit to yourself that even if your list is not written anywhere, it does exist in your mind. Whether you wanted to learn something new, start your business, write a book, make your own game… When will be better time for it? As soon as world will return to norm, even on your days of from work you’ll have a lot of errands to run, friends to meet, appointments to attend… Most likely you don’t have any of this now. And even, if you have somewhere to go, there is much less places you have to be, and more time to use for all the things on your list.

So after such a long introduction, let me get into 10 tips on working at home. All of them are a result of my research, millions of YouTube videos I’ve watched and tons of blog post I’ve read. I think I could easily write a post with many more tips than 10, but I’ve decided to include just those, which I implemented myself and had worked foe me. Please keep in mind that not necessary all of them are going to work for you too. Let’s get right into the tips:

1. Get up early

I know, it seems weird. You don’t have to go anywhere, no more rushing to work or school and still you need to get up early? Ok, let me explain, what I mean by early. So ideally, it would be similar time, as you would normally. So let’s say you get up at 7 to get to work at 8? Try to put your alarm at 8 instead. You’ll get an extra hour of sleep and at the same time, you won’t sleep the entire day. But key word in this tip is to get up early, not just wake up. I find it difficult to roll out of my bed as soon as I wake up. I would be able to stay there even, if I no longer asleep. Getting up and making your bed as soon as your are out of it, will set you into productive day. The other advantage of this tip is that when it will be all over, it will be easier for you to adjust to the old routine, when you will finally return to work.

2. Stick to your old routine

Try to remind yourself, what were you doing when you used to leave to work every morning. Probably you showered, eaten some breakfast, or simply got dressed. What ever it was, you should keep doing it. It can bring a lot of benefits not only for the time when you are staying at home, but also for when you are returning to work. You will have less trouble adjusting, when the long waited time is going to come and there will be no sing of virus left. On the other hand, now you will feel more productive, just because your brain will feel, that everything seems to be normal, no changes.

3. Set up your office

This might be easy for those of you, who have a spare room at home as it can become your temporary office. You could even leave it as an office for good, if you only wish. But, if you are like me, where there isn’t any spare place or room, try and designate just small office area. In my case it is a small table I ordered recently and I did put it my living room. I can easily fold it, if I need some extra space to play with my son, but anytime I need it, I have my office corner in no time. The only thing you try to avoid is to work from your bed (if there is no other choice, because you rent a box room for example, bed should do, but it will make it a bit harder, as it will be very tempting to just take a nap insead of doing a job).

Having this designated space, will help you to set your mind into the working mode. As you will be physically commuting into the work place. You would also have some space, where your work stuff like computer or folders could wait to be used, without the necessity of looking for them each time when you want to work.

4. Get your kids entertained

This point requires you to be creative too. Everything depends here on your children’s age. My son is 13 months now, so I work when he has his nap or when he is surrounded with his toys and I know that as long as I’ll stay in same room, he will take at least an hour to go through all of them and get bored. I started implementing these techniques since one week (as I said, all this got me a bit depressed) and on last Friday we got a message that we are returning to work (I am considered a key worker, as bakery provides food). So tonight will be my third night at work, and this first two days still went pretty well. To get a bit more time I extended my son’s screen time from 30 minutes a day to 1 hour a day (not at one time of course) and I am using early mornings to have a bit of a sleep, and similar my son’s nap time became my nap time too.

5. Keep your home clean.

This might seem obvious, but at the same time it is so tempting to skip dusting couple of times in a row. Especially, if you are pretty much sure that there will be no unexpected visit of your friends or family. However, it is very important, that you keep your home relatively clean at least. It will keep you motivated, as who does not know this feeling that you have to clean now, even of you have so much work to do?

6. Prepare your action plan the day before.

This is the important one too. I am not sure if there is any worse thing to do than sit, ready to work. Believing that you are going to do so much, but… as you sit you realise that you have no idea what to do. This is another one known probably by most of us. But what an action plan really is? If we have our to-do list we should be fine, shouldn’t we? Well, not always. There might be days, when you sit at your desk (or wherever you have to accomplish your task) and you start thinking: ‘Where is my notebook? I need it to start..’ And you are getting up to pick it up from the shelf on the other side of the room. Back by the desk and wondering where did you leave your favourite pen, after laptop, you have no charger, this and that…

You were ready to start your work long time ago, but you already wasted so much time and effort that you actually got a bit hungry. Some snack will definitively set you up for work. Yeah, but these salty crisps, you’ve just eaten, made you a bit thirsty…

I think you know where it all is going. Preparing an action plan is to going through your to-do list and making all tasks on it as easy to start as possible. You could prepare some stacks of things, you will need to accomplish all of the things from your list and after just grabbing them as your tasks are being completed. This way, you reduce some of the excuses to not to start actual work.

7. Take breaks as you would in a regular job.

This is something what a lot of us keep forgetting. When you’ll finally manage to start your work, it might make you lose sense of time. However, as longer you work without break, as less efficient you’ll become. It is even more important, if your work includes sitting by the desk by the screen. It is very important to give some break to your eyes and to stretch your muscles.

Nowadays, there are a lot of tools which can be very helpful in this case. You can download any of the pomodoro apps, where you can set up for how long you intend to work and how long you want your break to be. Your phone will let you know with the alarm, when it is time to stop work or to return to it.

8. Write reasons why are you doing this and hang it in visible place.

To be honest, this one seemed a bit useless to me at first. Why shall I waste my time for writing things I already know? But if you’ll look at this realistically, there will be many tasks which will seem a bit overwhelming. Or you’ll just get stuck in so called dead point, where you just can’t carry on, because you have no idea how to solve the problem you came across. All this might make you give up and keep procrastinating again. If you’ll have all the reasons why do you want to complete particular tasks, you will be more likely to stay motivated and continue.

9. Spare one day a week to precook for the next days.

This saved my life a lot. I used to thing about type of meal I want to cook since the time I woke up. Even when I was doing other things, my mind kept going away to this topic. Having some prepared meals in your freezer or fridge (depends on for how many days you prepared your food) will take your mind off of this topic and help you focus on the things you have to do.

10. Have any kind of physical activity every day.

This advice is very important especially for people, who’s work does not require them to work. Having some physical activity, especially in the morning will give you great kick of energy for the day (I know it seems impossible, as exercising makes you tired, but since I’ve started doing at least mild exercise like going for a walk with my son, made me a lot more productive).

This way we went through all of ten tips. I hope they will be useful for you and help you achieve your goals and get on the top of your to do list as soon as it is possible.

That’s everything what I’ve prepared for today’s post, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any other advises or tips on working from home, you are very welcome to share it in the comment section below.

For now I wish you very productive day and I’ll see you in my next post.

Daria