Working from home isn’t exactly what you imagine — or what you see on television.
I’m no Carrie Bradshaw typing by my New York window after a night out with my girls. I’m more of a stay in bed, skip a shower, make some coffee, write a paragraph here and there type worker. It’s not always conducive. It’s definitely not romantic.
But hey, I’m working on it.
Working from home has a plethora of benefits. I wake up when I please, take breaks on my terms, and stop for the day whenever my fingers begin to cramp. I am a women’s health and sexuality journalist. I dabble in interviews, focus on the arts, but most of my work is centered around women and their vaginas.
It’s a rewarding and satisfying job, especially in today’s political climate. I feel like I’m fighting the good fight from the comfort of my bed.
But what happens when you suffer from anxiety or manic episodes?
I find myself pacing around my apartment, distracting myself with my phone, or retweeting Cardi B.
What happens when you don’t talk to anyone all day, no co-workers to share a laugh over, or gossip about? What happens when you’re talking to yourself and pacing around your small apartment? You start to become unhinged.
In today’s society, 24 percent of people complete some or all of their work at home. Cubicles and offices are too expensive. Everyone can make a space at home. However, as much as I hate set-plans, clocking in, and being a slave to an office, I miss it from time to time.
My days blend together while working from home.
I have no set regimen and loneliness creeps in. I find myself working crazy overtime. I don’t take lunch breaks and sometimes I forget to pee. Yes, sometimes basic bodily functions are abandoned in order to meet a deadline. My fingers work constantly as I grasp for some sort of schedule to make my day go by swiftly and productively.
I first began to notice my changing moods when I took on full-time freelance writing a year ago.
My manic episodes became more prevalent. I wouldn’t calm down until after I’d left the house for an hour, abandoning my work to center on my mental state. This became exhausting and more importantly, I was losing out on money, catapulting me into even more of a frenzied state of mania and anxiety. My inability to create a routine for myself was obvious, I had to make a change.
Timothy Golden, an associate professor at the Lally School of Management & Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute says that when working at an office, “chores, family members and piles of laundry are out of sight, providing a physical barrier to the conflict.”
Whereas, when I work from home, I see my conflict. I see my outside responsibilities and I can’t seem to differentiate the two. In between writing paragraphs about the best new sex toys, I’m cleaning the bathroom, making my bed, and scrambling to make a meal.
My two worlds collide and my cup, definitely, runneth over.
A schedule is the first, and most difficult, task in creating a harmonious workspace at home. I commute on some days. Whether it’s a coffee shop or my art studio, peeling myself out of my apartment is a must. It doesn’t have to be every day, but creating an environment away from my home has a huge impact on my energy.
I wake up, eat breakfast, shower, and begin to work. Before, I would remain in bed, lug my laptop under the covers with me, and remain there for the rest of the day.
Talk about a bad office environment.
Getting up and getting dressed as if I’m leaving for the office has been sufficient to my professional drive and mental stability.
I’ve also invited friends to come work with me. In an age where many of us are working from home, or have more days off, I can use a little social interaction throughout the day. Studies have shown that water-cooler chatting can be beneficial for your health. Since we don’t have a water cooler, a cup of coffee will do. Brigham Young University in Utah found that lack of socializing can negatively affect your health in the same way that smoking 15 cigarettes a day can.
Lastly, I move.
This is an example of how working from home can be the opposite of damaging to my health. I live ten minutes from Lake Michigan and in the summer, I take an hour break between writing articles and run along the lake.
Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it sort of is.
On days where I don’t feel like leaving the house, I squat, do a few stretches, and practice some Pilates when I’m feeling a lull in my routine. When I do feel a spark of mania coming on, I schedule a break to organize my thoughts in order to remain balanced. Staying energized and active is pertinent to my success in my work.
Sometimes, I yearn for the 9-5 and I daydream about work meetings.
Working from home requires a little bit more prioritizing. I don’t get to clock out, therefore I work way after the typical work hours. Organizing, scheduling, and making lists are ways to combat any lack of discipline.
Most of all, I’ve learned that my Google Calendar is my best friend.
I don’t let my work overwhelm me. I take breaks. I let myself breathe. I stretch. I yawn. I somehow give myself days off. Tuesday’s are for visiting museums, Sunday’s are for lounging at the beach.
On Monday, I drink a lot of coffee and I do the dang thing.