I am working from home today, as I do many days, and I am musing on how to be nicer to myself through this. It can be difficult. Lonely and freaky sometimes, especially for “people” people. I have been trying to figure out a way to enjoy myself more, worry less and actually be present to how cool it is to not have to punch a clock, have anyone micro-managing , no stupid meetings to go to, no set lunch time…come on, isn’t this what the 9-5 world dreams of? And yet, I can find myself many times becoming stressed out in an internal frenzy of what to do next and what I really should do and WHY is this audition taking so long?? The inner monologue goes on and on, subtly taxing me.
Today I am being nice to me. I am taking breaks every hour or so – going outside and petting my dog, doing a few yoga stretches or walking around the block. It doesn’t take much – just something to break the monotony and tunnel vision, the subtle tension that creeps in and silently wreaks havoc from sitting and staring at a computer screen for so long.
Here are some other things I’m thinking about:
Do I have goals for today? When I have specific goals, I can measure and see if I have achieved them. If I achieve them early in the day, I can choose to go further or I can elect to finish for the day and go read a book on my patio or hike with the dog or go see a movie. If I don’t set clear goals, I have no way of knowing if and when i’m ever “done” (and you know, you’re never done!)
Do I make human contact? As voice over creatures, we are so people-oriented. I can get really weird if I don’t talk to anyone all day (except my microphone and whomever I’m imagining talking to…) I make it a point to pick up the phone at least once per day and make contact with a friend or colleague. It gets me out of my own head and adds enjoyment to my day.
Am I staying in my pajamas all day? I will admit, there is a novelty to being able to work in pj’s…but trust me, it gets old. I need to show up for myself. If I was working in an outside studio, I wouldn’t come in without a shower…or at least having washed my face, combed my hair and brushed my teeth! But when working from home I can suddenly find myself hours into my day without having done any of those things. When I shower and put on real clothes it helps me feels more powerful, more focused and well, more like a real person!
Do I put music on? I love music. I am a music person. But sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I can go days forgetting to listen to some music- ugh! Obviously when I’m recording I can’t have music on, but when I’m invoicing, emailing or doing any other number of office tasks, I am trying to remind myself to put music on- it makes me happier! Suddenly I feel less like I’m doing “work” and more like I‘m just hanging out, doing what I love to do.
Do I have good food in the house? Healthy food that is either already prepared or easy to prepare? Working from home, oftentimes you don’t think about things like lunch. Until it’s too late. I find myself suddenly starving, padding into the kitchen only to find either a) nothing or b) nothing that’s easy and quick to prepare or c) crap that’s unhealthy. If the unhealthy crap is there and available (especially if nothing else is) I will go for it almost every time. I am learning that I need to stock my kitchen with healthy easy snacks for me. Just because I’m home doesn’t mean I want to spend a half hour preparing a meal and another half hour cleaning up. I need healthy pre-cut carrots and celery, apples and nuts. I have taken to making Sunday my cooking day, setting aside the afternoon to cook up some things that will last throughout the week: a big batch of brown rice or quinoa for instance, roasted vegetables, even a big salad that will last for a few days in the fridge (as long as there’s no dressing on it!) I’m even thinking now that on weeks when I am incredibly busy- say recording an audiobook, I’m actually going to treat myself to a food delivery service. I’ve done some research and there’s actually quite a few options. They run about $115-$125/week… not a bad price, for my health and sanity.
How about taking myself out to lunch? Just bc I’m working from home doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to get out into the world and grab a bite and join the living. Do I step out of my dark studio-cave and see the sun or nature? Sometimes I tend to unknowingly act a bit like I’m in a prison camp – I’m both prisoner and prison guard! I want to let myself out of the cage. This is an awesome life. Let’s enjoy it a bit more, shall we? It starts by being nice. To myself.
And on that note, do I say nice things to myself when I’m recording, or mean things? Am I encouraging and positive? When I listen back do I subtly put myself down with a “meh” or “eeeww…” ? Do I actually give myself props when something sounds good? And for that matter, at the end of the day do I thank myself for a job well done? For a focused and good effort? If I don’t do that, no one’s going to do it for me. I am my own boss and that means giving praise where praise is due and knowing when to tell myself, Ok, you’ve done enough– good work for today; now go have some fun!
The thing is, everything matters. The way I self-talk, the way I self-conduct – just because no one else is seeing it, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have an impact. How nicely I treat myself reverberates, contributing to my overall happiness and well being. It’s a subtle art…and today, I’m practicing it.