You can burn out too, when you work from home

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Here is another interesting article, about our current work-from-home status:

“Leaving the office every day and commuting home is a forced boundary that helps separate your work from your personal life. While losing the commute when you work from home can be seen as a major perk, it also means there is no barrier between work and home.

If you never really shut down your computer or walk away from your work, it’s easy to just continue working into the evening or over the weekends.”

Yep, my sentiments exactly.

More from the article here.

Life Online

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“I’ve lived my entire life online.” ~ Zoe Quinn

How does one keep her sanity during weeks of quarantine? Do you stay bored or do you choose to be productive? I’ve had a balance of both; I’m only human after all. I’ve had days of lazily catching up on sleep debt and afternoon siestas, and days juggling both work and mom hats.

Now that the routine is pretty much yet and we have “so much time” at home, I have discovered online apps and streaming services that offer several options to occupy the hours. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Netflix and Chill (with Family)

The “wholesome” version of this infamous catchphrase is a favorite pasttime and our usual go-to date when the daughter is asleep. Hubby and I have rewatched our favorite sitcoms over at Netflix: Friends, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Community, HIMYM, Modern Family, while also checking out new episodes of Kdrama series: Kingdom and Hospital Playlist.

There are also several Concerts and Broadway plays, available in Youtube. We’ve particularly enjoyed Phantom of the Opera and the Disney live concert.

Reconnect with Loved Ones

With Zoom, Messenger, Whatsapp and Facetime, I found time to catch up with my office colleagues and Tuesday ladies, having e-drinks also online and sharing. Both professional and personal, these apps have helped make the communication lines active during this quarantine period. Our Viber groups also are alive lately, with friends and family sharing Covid-19 updates, some funny memes, and even emoji games/quizzes online.

Learn Something New

Downloaded new trending app, particularly Tiktok. My daughter loves dancing and she can follow the videos with ease. I think my lip syncing skills have also improved with this app. We usually enjoy recording the videos together at night, after all the morning meetings are finished.

My daughter was initially also enrolled for summer piano lessons, which was cut abruptly because of the home quarantine. So we downloaded SimplyPiano for the meantime, so we can still practice her finger positions while playing the keyboard at home.

I’ve also enjoyed my subscription from Masterclass, where I finished modules from different interest areas: Anna Wintour (business leadership), Massimo Bottura (cooking), Malcolm Gladwell (writing), and Bobbi Brown (beauty and make-up). Up next, Interior DEsign with

Clean up ala Marie-Kondo

Cleaning, and deep cleaning at that, is up there in my list-of-things-i-should-do-but-i-don’t-feel-like-doing it yet. Marie Kondo, in her Netflix series and her youtube videos, says that you can start one area at the time. When that usually happens, even if I touch one area, I end up cleaning the whole house. I usually don’t have time to deal with that much energy requirement.

Now that I do have the time, we ended up sorting old clothes, cleaning drawers, and throwing away about three garbage bags worth of random stuff. Our home feels a lot lighter. There may be wisdom to the therapy that deep cleaning brings, thanks to extra time at home.

Catch up on Reading Lists

Still have a lot of books unopened from my last visits with Big Bad Wolf festivals. For the quarantine period, have opened Michelle OBama’s Becoming biography so far. But my nights have been kept busy as well with Kindle short rom-coms. I’m down to 28 books left, from my 150 reading list goal!

Shop

Grocery shopping is now easier, Meals can be delivered too with Grab, Lalamove and FoodPanda when the craving hits.

Facebook has also been a foodie source, as home cooks have shared their culinary dishes with the world. With just one click message, I’ve connected with friends who are only too willing to let us have a taste of their entrees and desserts.

Pray

There’s a meme going around, that Churches are closed so people have no place to pray. On the other hand, there are more novenas, masses, and religious ceremonies available via streaming online, that enabled more households to converge in prayer. Personally, we are subscribed to FB groups of our archdiocese, as well as Collegio Pontifico Filippino for Cardinal Tagle, and the Manila Cathedral page for Pope Francis. These pages often hold Sunday Masses and Wednesday rosaries, as well as special prayers during the Holy Week.

 

There are so many hobbies, and passion projects to choose from online. We may be bored from time to time, as we are not familiar with a situation where prolonged stay at homes are the norm. But with technology and social media at our side, we can empower these options at our fingertips, and even use these activities as bonding opportunities with family.

 

 

A Day in the Life of a WFH Mom

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“When you work from home there is no such thing as a holiday.”
Anthony T. Hincks

As the world comes to know Covid-19, and the pandemic reaches new regions and new heights, industries globally have come to adapt to a new norm: a work-from-home, quarantined situation.

Ours started when the President announced a lockdown at the capital starting March 17th, and it has extended until April 30th. I thought then, with relief, this is the break that I was waiting for! A chance to be with my daughter and husband, and still do work. A way to destress from everyday traffic and dragging whole-day meetings. This could work!

Management advised us general guidelines: work-from-home means we are to be online and reached, at most times. We adapted the Microsoft Teams program for conference calls, and used Viber app for important announcements.

When the days progressed, we found a new routine at home to follow, as a family adjusting to this new schedule:

0600: My wake-up time. This was a much later hour than we used to wake up (before it was an hour or two earlier, to get ready for work and school). I would check my messages, reply to emails from my mobile, and have a quick visit to my social media accounts. This is usually my quiet time, when I can also prepare mentally for the day ahead.

0700: Prep Time. Family wakes up. By this time, me and the hubby have already cooked breakfast, given my daughter a bath, and did a general cleaning of the house. (yes, we tagged team and delineated chores!) Lunch and dinner menus are also prepped, in time for cooking time later.

0900: WORK FROM HOME *juggling* begins. As part of the marketing group, we are mostly invited to small district meetings of operations, cascading new program directions and tackling their issues and concerns. This can last from about an hour or two, and I usually attend two to three meetings in a day

As the day progresses, I take in about 4 calls in an hour, from medreps to their supervisors, also addressing questions and approving online budget requests.

In between, I feed my daughter and fix lunch for the family (meetings can be muted and even be on invisible mode), so while listening I can multitask on chores for the house.

Husband also does conference calls around this time, so we just swap work and home responsibilities when we’re not currently on calls. Very thankful that the spouse is supportive and understanding.

1500: Marketing Meeting. Our core group huddles in the afternoon to give feedback on the daily meetings we attended. We also submit reports, and present to higher management for items needing (mostly budget) approval. The agreements are then discussed back to operations the following day.

1700: Finish training module and exam. Training has required us to catch up on professional development, through online modules (video and PDF formats) with an exam to be taken daily for comprehension check. This is stressful for me, as my position dictates the pressure to score high!

1800: Dinner and Family Time. Finally done with most work, we sit down together at the table to have family conversation and have dinner. I have playtime with my daughter, and my husband and I either catch up on our Kdrama or a new Netflix movie we haven’t seen in the cinemas.

2000: Sleep and Me Time to unwind. After the family rosary, I catch up on my kindle to read the latest romcom (friends to lovers tropes are my recent favorite), or to have e-drinking sessions with my friends.

Then cycle repeats again the next day.

I don’t have much semblance anymore of the dates, even the days of the week. All I’m aware of is today, and tomorrow. Most of the time, it’s exhausting to work from home because we have to be resourceful on how we still conduct business while giving my family the quality time that they are starving for. The usual work hours is extended catering to internal and external customer needs, because we have to be more accessible in our time. The premise that “we are not busy” does not hold true for work at home moms, because we now have to multitask both work and home responsibilities, as we are in both zones at the same time, everyday.

But I’m thankful for the gift of extra time from the absence of daily commute and dressing up to work. I am thankful for the extra time to do Marie Kondo, to pick up on Masterclass sessions, and to read on those Bid Bad Wolf books I picked up a couple of years back. I am thankful and inspired to write an entry again in this WordPress. I am thankful to catch up on doing things that I wanted to do, but wasn’t able to before, because I was too busy with office or field work.

I’m more grateful for our health, and I pray that the health and safety of everyone improves soon. Because as much as I am thankful for these blessings, I can appreciate now the beauty of compartmentalizing our time, and therefore our responsibilities, to the different functions working moms have: time for work, time for family, time for ourselves.

I still wish for the “normalcy” of our lives to return. Hopefully sooner, than later.

Creative Juices

“Creativity is experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”

~ Mary Lou Cook

I’ve been looking for some creative outlet lately. Being creative and innovative is important to my work in brand management. Coming up with new campaigns is a necessity in our jobs. But lately, mundane administrative tasks have kept me busy, that there is no longer room for new, innovative ideas to come forth. I have busied myself trying to solve bureaucratic paperwork and catching up on backlogs that I have not really thought about anything else, much less something surprising and catchy for my brand.

Being creative has been elusive for me. I was more of the person who can get things done. Someone else had that vision or that big idea, I would appreciate the creativeness of it, then I would work with the team to make it happen. Roy Disney of Walt Disney. I was never comfortable at the helm, but I was happy to work at the sidelines. I can execute, but someone else will have to direct what needs to be done.

Unfortunately for our line of work, we cannot afford NOT to be creative. Which means, I have to step out of my comfort zone, and find ways to be inspired and churn out those creative juices. These solutions I have found so far:

Read, Enroll, Learn

I have always loved reading: fiction and self-help mostly. I absorb everything like a sponge. But more than books, I find learning seminars more effective, as the interactive format enables me to retain certain concepts better.

I have stumbled upon Masterclass lately, an online platform to hear experts’ opinions on different fields. A hybrid of books and learning session, Masterclass enables me to learn from my favorite CEOs, such as Bob Iger and Howard Schultz, at my own pace. Plus, the course also has their own downloadable PDFs, so you can review the keynotes even after finishing the masterclass.

Talk to other people, especially those outside my Industry

Usually, inspiration strikes from the most unlikely places. In this case, it may mean outside my industry. Though we are required to go out to the field and meet with customers and operations partners, I find that talking to other people from other industry can also open our eyes to possibilities and other creative solutions. I have to seek out more meet-ups with friends this year, as this turns out not just sanity breaks and ways to rekindle friendships, but also as avenues of learning as well.

Find a Mentor

This has been part of my bucketlist, but I never dared approach anyone. I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know how to approach it. Finally, after being inspired to take a leap, I wrote a long letter to my former boss from my previous company, asked him to be my mentor. He was one of the daredevils I know of that would always challenge the status quo, and I wanted to at least be infected with his passionate vibe. Lo and behold, he agreed! I was ecstatic! We arranged for a once every quarter informal meeting, to start with. Let’s see how it turns out for 2020.

Hope that with this New Year, I can also apply these strategies and start a New, more Creative approach to Learning!

Bibliophilia

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“Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real.” ~ Nora Ephron

It’s been a while since I posted, mostly because the need to write should be something that engulfs you… a need to contribute creatively to a blank space, whether a canvas or an empty sheet.

Today, amidst the daily grind, writing to release becomes an escape. Writing to tell my story is my creative contribution, and my means to get out of the stressful world. Just like reading has been, for the past months.

I have always been a bibliophile— I love books and stories and self-help. My book hauls whenever I am in Fully Booked, or in any airport bookstore, or even in the 24hour Big Bad Wold sale is a testament to my love story with books.

When in the mood, I always go for the business biographies. I love learning about people’s lives and how their values and philosophies shaped the companies and brands they lead. Most of the time, I indulge in romantic stories, so I can feel butterflies again and have a reason not to think so logically for the time being.

My love for books and reading started with read-along nursery rhymes and lyrics from song hits, then further developed with short stories I would borrow twice a week from  the school library. I was the classic Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I used to buy and collect books since I was a teenager. From sweet valley (all levels!) to sweet dreams to historical novels, the latter being my trigger to collect books from singular authors. Growing older, my interests moved to business books and bibliographies and self-help, even fantasies like Harry Potter and Twilight. I loved Trilogies as well. I devoured literature and fiction and non-fiction, loving the smell of new books and pages as I leafed through each chapter. I can forego sleep and food, just as long as I can finish what I was craving for at the moment.

My relationship with e-books started when I stumbled about Wattpad, where I can have easy access to love stories at a whim, and my love for friends-to-lovers tropes began.  I sought out other online sources, such as Google books with minimal fees. Then my best friend Eda introduced me to the world of Kindle, and my unlimited subscription began.

To date, I can read at least three books in one sitting, and even through traffic (dangerous yes, but boredom inspires the adventurous and reckless in me!). I read to reminisce the kilig feeling, but also to escape. Mostly to escape. Having an imaginary world to absorb, even for a short while, makes me forget the problems that I cannot yet face head on, or inspires me to try more romance in my otherwise “normal” marriage life. I sometimes sleep at 2am or even beyond, in my quest to quench my thirst, nearing addiction, for the next love story. It may not be healthy as I sometimes feel groggy in the morning, but I find that it helps keep my mental state afloat. Right now, it’s my go-to stress reliever, but I hope that I can find that balance between satisfying my love for a good story and going back inspired to my daily routine.

Alone Time on Mothers’ Day

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“Alone Time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

“What do you want for Mothers’ Day?”, my husband asked one day.

Honestly, I really don’t know. Money would not even be an issue. Not because we have loads of it (which we don’t), but I think the thing that I want the most cannot be bought in a store. We already have more than enough material things, both for me and my family. God knows I’m even trying to Marie-Kondo barely used toys/clothes/random stuff for the condo, so adding more things does not really appeal to me right now.

If I was really honest with myself, what I want is uninterrupted sleep, a good massage, peace and quiet. That would be so heavenly! But I cannot do that even in my own home, because I would think about the next meal or the next load of laundry, or answer the next phone call from work. Even if I locked myself in the bedroom, my daughter would still know that I’m there, and I cannot resist her even if my body and soul are so, so, so tired from the daily grind.

So lo and behold, the husband gifts me with a night off— an overnight stay in a hotel where I can relax and do whatever I want. He will take care of the house and our daughter for the meantime.

It really is a wonderful and thoughtful gift! I toyed with the idea for a while, before settling down on a weeknight— my MIL was home to also help around the house, and my boss was in vacation leave so no meetings will be called. I packed my luggage on a Thursday, and off I checked into a modest hotel.

The room is not so big and not too expensive, but it has all the amenities that I needed— a spa, a rooftop bar, free wifi, and nearby grocery in case I need anything.

I’m no stranger to hotels. We often go to staycations as a family, and we are often billeted by the office on business-related events. But to stay in a hotel just to relax and be my self… this is definitely a first! First time to not think about taking care of other people’s food and clothes (what to order for room service, fix the toys and clothes, etc) and first time to not hurry because of early call times (ingress, start of a meeting, etc). No time but my own time— to write and blog and finish my next chapter, stan and ship my Tumblr feeds, read bff eBooks, drink my Moscato, splurge on an hour of Swedish massage, and enjoy the city skyline by the rooftop, without the guilt.

Is Mothers’ Day supposed to be celebrated without your family? Is it ironic to be alone without your family, on Mothers’ Day? I’ll have a couple of those over the weekend, for sure. But to feel like myself again… to remember how and who I was before I was a working mom, juggling responsibilities and to-do’s, is the best healing time for a tired working Mom. If I give this time to myself, I know that I can give more of me to my family and to my company, to everyone who demands every little part of me every other day of the year.

For now, I am thankful for this time. I wish every Mom would also get a chance to let go and feel free and enjoy life and be herself, even for just a little while…sans the guilt.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all Working Moms, and to all loving, hardworking Moms! No matter how you spend your day, know that you are loved and appreciated by your family and the people around you. Cheers!