Both my husband and I have been working from home for a full week now. This is the start of his third week, actually, and he has many more weeks of mandatory WFH per his company. I’m at home until further notice.
I’ll be honest – I’ve left the house only about 3 times in the past 3 weeks, and I have honestly loved it (aside from the few days I had the flu – never thought I’d be happy about a flu diagnosis though!). I’m an introvert, and though I do miss going out to eat and being able to run to the store for an item or two, I’ve felt pretty dang chill and have been able to do a lot of things we weren’t really doing on a “normal” schedule. I have one gripe I have to get off my chest, and then I’ll share what we’ve been doing while staying at home, along with my one WFH/mental-wellness tip I’ve discovered.
I do have one thing I’m really sad about missing out on. I was supposed to be at my first industry-wide marketing conference in March. It’s THE conference to go to in my field, and I am at the perfect point in my career to be able to get so much from it. I just finished my first full year in the newly-created marketing position at my job, and felt really confident going into 2020 with the plans I had, and I was all prepared with specific questions to ask new contacts and a small list of people I already know. But the conference was postponed about 4 days before I was supposed to fly in. I understand why, of course, and it was definitely the responsible decision. But it still sucks. A lot of my community outreach plans, like the launch of a brand-new volunteer program, are out the window now, too (along with the resume boost I would have gotten). I’ll be able to get that going eventually, and I’m enormously thankful I still even have a job when so many are getting laid off. But I am disappointed about missing out on one of my biggest plans for the year.
What We’re Doing While #StayingHome
Other than that, though, being at home has been nice. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
- Puzzles. Right after we both got work from home orders, we bought two puzzles from Amazon. We finished one in a few hours; it was a 500-piece painting of an old timey gas station. That one deluded us into thinking our second puzzle would be as easy, but the second one is a 1000-piece Thomas Kinkaid-like design and is going to take us much longer.
- Hunt a Killer. If you’re into true crime, this might be a fun option for a quarantine activity. Hunt a Killer is a subscription box, and it’s basically an analog video game where you try to solve a murder using materials that get mailed to you every month. Each “season” consists of a six episode, or six box, storyline, and you can buy a season on its own or just subscribe for a monthly box. We have finished two episodes currently, and it’s been a really entertaining activity. It’s definitely something different.
- Yard work and house projects. It’s spring, which is house-project season anyway, so we’re tackling some of ours. We’ve been in our new home a year now, and we’re making plans to landscape the backyard, plus cleaning up some of the current plants that are in the front. My husband cut about 7 feet off of an unruly bush we hated since we moved in, and now we can actually see the street from the porch. I bought a giant package of wildflower seeds before we locked down, and I’m trying to find the perfect place to plant those as well. We’ve also started organizing our garage. We are the epitome of home productivity. (Please ignore the giant pile of laundry we need to fold – the inside of the house doesn’t count right now.)
- New hobbies? I impulse bought an end table from one of the local nonprofits whose thrift shop has moved online due to COVID-19, and I’m refinishing it. It wasn’t hideous before, but it was a little beat up and dated. When I moved out of the dorms in college, my mom and I refinished a coffee table with tung oil, and I love how it turned out. The end table has a similar wood color and inlaid top, so I’m sanding it all down and plan to tung oil the top and paint the bottom an off-white. This is a really cool piece of furniture, and the first piece I’ve refinished by myself. Both my aunt and mother-in-law have been redoing furniture for several years, and I may have caught the bug. We’ll see how this piece turns out! (Anyone have tips on getting water stains out? Should I just put tung oil over them, or will that make them stand out?)
- Letting our cats roam. It took forever, but we finally got our tabby cat, Rita, to wear a collar. She loves being outdoors, but she roams more than our Siamese, so we wanted to make sure she has something to wear to show she belongs to someone. Both our cats have really enjoyed being able to hang out outside while we’re working from home during the day, and we’ve beocme more comfortable with them being outside since we are learning where and how far they go. Plus, I’m getting lots of cute photos for their Instagram.
My Wellness Tip
This isn’t a quarantine-specific tip, because I wish I had done this long ago, but it’s extremely relevant now. All Android phones now have a section in Settings called Digital Wellbeing (I believe its iPhone counterpart is Screen Time or something similar). Digital Wellbeing allows you to set app times, Wind Down mode, Focus Mode, and other things. I’ve kept my phone on do not disturb from 10pm to 7am for awhile, but adding more settings via Digital Wellbeing has already made a huge difference in my mental state. Here’s what I set up:
- App Timers. This is the best thing I could have done for myself (and for my work productivity). Instagram and Twitter are my two biggest distractions during the day, and Twitter is my most negative social feed. I set timers for both apps. Instagram is at 1.5 hours currently, partly because I use Instagram to manage my company’s account and partly because it’s a more positive feed on my personal account. But I have lessened my scrolling during the day just because I know I have a limited time frame. Twitter is set to 30 minutes a day (and honestly I could lower it and be fine). Setting a short timer for Twitter has been wonderful. I follow a lot of news on Twitter, and that is helpful, but a lot of my feed is just political and depressing, especially right now. With the timer, I’m still getting relevant, recent info, but not wasting time or mental energy scrolling through pointless, negative crap. If you take anything from this post, take this. Set app timers. You won’t regret it.
- Focus Mode. I also set focus mode during my work hours. It pauses distracting apps completely. You can choose to take a timed break during work hours, which is nice, but otherwise it grays out the app on the screen and you have to go into Settings to turn Focus Mode off if you really want to scroll. I find those extra steps to be an effective nudge to put the phone back down.
- Wind Down. I already kept my phone on do not disturb at night, but Wind Down mode adds grayscale to that. It’s a visual reminder to go to bed if you’ve lost track of time, and if I wake up in the night and want to check what time it is, grayscale is easier on the eyes.
Hope everyone is doing well and staying home! If you’re a delivery driver, health care worker, grocery store employee, or other essential employee, HATS OFF to you and thank you.