Ever since I first started writing posts on From China Village, when my only goal was to reassure my parents that I was safe and sound and surviving over here, I’ve found the writing and editing to be incredibly therapeutic. I like processing challenges and new situations by writing about them. So, what better way to help myself adjust to this new working-from-home life than to write about it and have a discussion with you all about it!
I thought it would be fun to do a little March mini-series. I’m calling it Home Office. We’re starting this week talking about the challenges that arise when working from home, and we’ll cover resources, tips, and what a typical day looks like over the next month. I’m no expert – heck, I only started a few months ago! – so I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts, suggestions, and advice about what works for you if you’ve ever been in the same position. I’m looking forward to your help!
So we’ll dive right in. Here are a few of the challenges I’ve encountered over the last few months.
At this very moment, I am sitting at my dining room table at my computer. I am surrounded by papers and notebooks and there is a cat snoring on the chair next to me. We have another little room in the house with a desk, but the internet won’t reach that far! By day, I work from the dining room table, and when we need to eat dinner, I try to squish my things down at the other end of the table.
I’m also learning quite quickly that I need my space to be tidy in order to get to work. Since I can see about a third of our apartment from my table, there’s always some picking up or straightening up to do before I work or even throughout the day. And there are always, always big pairs of basketball sneakers that need putting away at least once a day. This, of course, can get out of hand – most days I try not to clean up until I’ve been sitting for a few hours and need a stretch. That’s a perfect time to vacuum or do some dishes!
One of my favorite things about working from home is that I actually get to see my darling husband a little more often. But that’s also proving a little difficult with my new set up. If I’m writing, I usually take a break to make him a coffee or chat about the day. But if I’m in the middle of an interview or have a deadline, sometimes I wish I could just shut the door to my office for a little peace!
On the other hand, when Michael is gone for twelve hours straight or I have a stretch of days without meetings, it can get quite lonely. Poor Michael often walks through the door to an ambush of questions about his day and the outside world. Luckily, the cat keeps me company between his naps!
I mentioned this last week. Some days, there just aren’t enough hours to get through the to-do list! Some of what I’m doing currently involves sitting at the computer and writing, and some projects necessitate meetings in the city centre. And sometimes you just need to meet a friend for coffee to catch up! I usually try to break my week into days I have to leave the house and days I don’t. Each week, I protect at least a few days just for staying at home and writing or creating.
Social media is such a big part of my job, from promoting blog posts to researching or contacting people for collaborations or projects, but it can be a huge time suck. I still haven’t quite figured out how to avoid getting sucked into the internet rabbit hole, but one of my latest tricks is to only access social media on my phone. That way I’m not tempted to click into those tabs on my computer every five minutes!
So there youhave three big challenges I’ve found over the last few months. Of course, they’re not challenges to complain about (after all, I know how lucky I am to do what I’m doing!), but challenges to conquer. Any thoughts? Tips? Lessons learned the hard way? I’d love to learn from you!
I came across this article about working from home in the Irish Times over the weekend. It gave me a chuckle!