Working From Home

A blessing or a curse?

Ann Litts
Ann Litts
Apr 13, 2020 · 5 min read
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Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

A couple of weeks ago my facility sent all non-essential staff off-site to work remotely. As I was high risk, I was working remotely a bit before everyone else from my department arrived here.

In days past, I have been an ICU nurse. I have been an OR nurse. I have been a home health nurse. For the past two years, I’ve driven a desk as a nurse navigator (think case manager). I also did time as a kidney transplant coordinator — and worked a shit ton of organ offers from the comfort of my kitchen table in the wee small hours.

Working from home this time around isn’t my first rodeo. I’m just happy to be doing it during daylight hours with the rest of the Human Race.

In speaking with my colleagues, I’m finding that many of them are struggling with this. As a rule — I hate articles that bring you lists of suggestions. Because Humans are all different. With different needs/desires/personalities. And nearly 100% of the time All. The. Things. that work for me will not work for you.

But perhaps there are one or two things you may not have considered. Or perhaps something I’m doing might spark an amazing insight into helping you change your workspace or practice to better serve your needs.

So here goes. What I’ve learned about working from home — complete with numbers.

#1 — Keep a separate office space. Set up in a guest room, or your den. Don’t work in the middle of your living space or sleeping space. Work in a place you can walk away from at 5 pm.

#2. Turn on your phone/computer/e-mail at 8 AM and turn it off at 5 PM at the very MOST. It’s hard & I’ve found that since I’m working from home I’m working WAY more hours than I did when I commuted to The Place. It’s easier to take one more call — or look at one more thing…but boundaries. Don’t go into your ‘office’ without them.

#3. Take breaks. WALK AWAY. Every couple of hours. Set a timer if you must. Get up — walk around. Stretch — get a cup of coffee — talk to another human — step outside — and don’t go back for a good solid 15–20 minutes. Take a REAL lunch away from your workspace. I used to eat lunch at my desk or in clinic. DON’T DO THAT NOW. Step away. Trust me — it’s all still there when you get back. I take my phone with me but I let it go to VM unless it’s one of my providers or a co-worker. Just to breathe for those 30 minutes or so.

#4. When you shut it down for the night — don’t go back till the next morning. Guard the time that belongs to you. It’s tempting to ‘peek’ at your unfinished business. It can wait. It all can wait. Because your sanity is needed. This is a marathon — not a sprint.

#5. Find a hobby that absorbs you and takes you out of yourself. Meditate (insight timer/headspace are great) yoga — lots of zoom classes out there from any & all studios — you don’t even have to live by them. Most studios have them as well as several teachers on their own. Read some fun fantasy — escape our reality into another world. Watch some old movies — I’ve made my way through ALL of Harry Potter — Star Trek — Lord of The Rings and are now tackling Star Wars (in order of release date).

#6. Play music when you aren’t on the phone. It is amazing to me what a difference this has made to my nerves. Pandora has changed my entire life of late. Some lovely Leonard Cohen or Amos Lee and I can physically feel myself relax into my day.

#7. Never underestimate the power of nature. I make it a point to go outside and be present for the sunset. Every single night. Some people might be sunrise humans. Find a thing — listen to a bird — feed a rabbit or a squirrel. Plant a garden. Get back in touch with your inner Human. The healing powers of the Earth — the Sun — the Stars & the Moon cannot be overestimated. I am a nurse — we are healers. No matter what your profession, it’s ok if you need healing sometimes too.

#8. FaceTime or Skype with someone you love and miss on a regular. Just knowing they are ok can change everything about day to day inconveniences. I would live in extrovert hell for the rest of my life so long as my kids, their hubbies & my grandkids were safe. It’s a good reminder of the larger picture of why we are doing this.

#9. Be as kind as you possibly can to everyone you come across. Most especially yourself.

#10. And to agree with the brilliance of one of my colleagues — wine. Or a good craft beer. Or chocolate. Or ice cream. Or whatever other ‘guilty pleasure’ you have. Give yourself permission to indulge. Life is short — eat dessert first.

#11. Stop watching the news at night. If you need updates — do that in the AM. When your mind has time to digest it all before you try to go to sleep at night.

And lastly — to help disconnect at night & shut off your brain — get a nighttime routine going.

Shut off the screens. Take a hot soak. Add some Epsom salts. Salt is cleansing — to your mind & soul. Light a candle — just a small one is enough to help dispel the darkness. Listen to your favorite music. Cry if you can. Grieve. Let it all go. Read something comforting & inspiring- without a backlight — that gives you hope. Meditate. Give yourself a foot massage with sesame oil. Put lavender in an infuser or on your pillow. Drink some chamomile tea. Take the time to make this time Your Self Care Moments. Make it sacred. You are so worth it.

That’s all I got. I hope you can find a pearl to help you get through These Days. Pay extra special attention to #9.

Namaste.

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” — Random FB meme.

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