WFH (Work From Home)

Woman working at a laptop biting a pencil. Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

You have probably seen many WFH posts in the past week. I feel like they might be more accurately described as WTF! WFH? posts.

I’ve been doing the remote thing for a while. I hope that I can offer some assurance that it’s going to be okay and that you can do this.

My number one recommendation is to create a routine. You might have to time-shift a bit to accommodate working with kids or furkids, so take that into account.

Over the past year, my schedule has evolved into something like this:

Monday-Friday

  • Wake up
  • Start my morning routine.
    • Make coffee and feed the cat because she is starving OMG
    • Meditate with the cat
    • Read with the cat
    • Journal with the cat
    • Write*
    • Check the seedlings
    • Work out
    • Eat breakfast
    • Feed the dogs and take them for a walk
    • Get ready for work (For me, that’s hair, makeup and work clothes)
  • Work 8-noon: I stand up and walk around almost every hour (thank you FitBit), and I take a mid-morning break**
  • Break for lunch at noon
    • I suggest making lunch a standing meeting on your calendar. Don’t skip it, don’t eat at your desk, and as a rule, don’t create meetings during lunch.
    • Take the dogs outside and walk Buddy
    • Give the cat a snack OMG
    • Take a few turns in the game du jour (usually Splendor because it’s easy to play asynchronously, get the expansion pack once you’ve mastered the basic game)
  • Work 1-5ish: I stand up and walk around almost every hour (again, thank you FitBit), and I take a short mid-afternoon break**
  • Transition from work to home with what we call Miller Time (usually nachos) and feed the cat OMG***
  • Evening routine:
    • Make dinner
    • Feed the dogs and take them for a walk
    • Do something constructive/creative/fun*
    • Take a few turns
    • Do Duolingo lessons (Quiero hablar español)
    • Check the seedlings

*I’m still working on making this a daily habit.
** If you have access to LinkedIn Learning, check out https://www.linkedin.com/learning/time-management-working-from-home/plan-meaningful-breaks on the importance of taking meaningful breaks during the work day.
***Miller Time signals the end of the work day. I highly recommend a similar ritual. Sadly, I have no suggestions for dealing with perpetually starving felines.

Saturday and Sunday are similar but my work hours are for creative work and house projects with some playtime and couch lounging thrown into the mix.

I also have a list of things that I do once or twice a week that I associate with specific days (laundry, class, coaching, updating the Little Free Library, watering plants, etc.). You might think that this feels a bit constraining but I find it to be the opposite. It actually frees up headspace to turn my to-dos into habits. 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this. It took me a while to create all of these daily habits, and I didn’t add them all at once. I kept track of things in a Google Spreadsheet for a long time (nerd alert). But less than a year in, I find that many of the things that I struggled to do regularly in the beginning are now habits. I don’t know what the limit is on recommending a particular book, but I recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear if you are trying to develop habits. I love this book. Many of you have received this recommendation, so thanks for letting me fangirl again here. 

Here is a list of articles and other resources that might help you as you transition from working remotely. You don’t need to read them all (although you can, you overachiever), but there’s a lot of wisdom and useful hacks here. 

If you have access to LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com training through work or your local library, there are a ton of good trainings related to remote work and virtual teams (and many other topics). Check it out! Your local library probably has an online resources section with cool offerings. I’ll share more on that in a future post. 

Need face time?

I’m happy to meet with you (via Zoom, of course!) to talk through resources and strategies to adapt to WFH. Contact me!

At the end of the day, “We’re all just walking each other home” (Ram Dass). Reach out to others. Take what you need and offer what you can. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. 

Get out your seam ripper

Mistakes happen--that's why I own 8 seam ripperspper.

I recently worked on a quilt project, four placemats for my dad. The fabrics were selected to reflect his experience as a Boy Scout. He was an Eagle Scout, and he worked at a scout camp. One of his duties was to care for a fox on loan from the local zoo. Foxy made a big impression on my dad, so, of course, he had to be part of the quilt. 

I used a quilt-as-you-go technique for these mini quilts with two-inch strips set on a 45-degree angle. To keep the pieces straight, I start in the middle and sew to one corner, and then I flip the quilt over and sew from the middle to the opposite corner. I learned the hard way that starting from one side can result in some distortion. 🙁 

These went together pretty fast, and the strips covered the batting and the backing fabric almost perfectly. I trimmed the quilts to neat rectangles and then sewed the binding together. For the first time ever, I sewed all the mitered seams correctly without having to redo them! Yes!

Then I started sewing on the binding. This is where I first goofed up. I join the edges of the binding in a mitered seam but miscalculated the overlap, so the binding didn’t match up. Then I noticed an even bigger goof-up: the foxes were upside down.

The backing fabric features the Boy Scout Oath with a definite top to the material, and the eagle fabric was laid out in a particular way as well. When I flipped the quilts to sew from the middle to the left, I flipped the foxes, so they were right side up as I was sewing them. Alas, this rendered them upside down in the finished quilt! Things like this happen to everyone, even experienced sewers, but it’s not fun. 

At this point, I just had to get up and walk away. 

In the past, this is where I might have abandoned the project. I am sorry to admit that I have been short on grit more than once in my life. But it’s something I have been working on, so the next day I returned to the sewing room to assess the situation. Luckily, the fox fabric is the second strip from the edge so I would only need to remove two pieces. I had plenty of material and even had extra strips cut. I decided to try removing the binding only from the affected corner. I wasn’t sure if this would work but decided it was worth a try. 

I pulled out my seam ripper. Actually, I probably have eight seam rippers. It’s a small but indispensable sewing gadget prone to being misplaced. So, I have purchased multiple seam rippers over the years. My Clover 463 seam ripper is probably my favorite. Seam rippers are ingenious tools and helpful for all kinds of sewing and non-sewing related tasks.

I made my corrections in stages, so it wasn’t as frustrating to undo the work that I thought was done. I removed the binding first and then came back twice to remove the two corner pieces. Luckily my first quilt was correct. I always do one as a strip guide when making multiples of the same style. It didn’t work perfectly as a guide, but as I said, these things happen in spite of the precautions that we take to ensure a good outcome.

I ultimately sewed on the new corner strips, trimmed the quilts and sewed on the binding. I hand sew the binding in place as the last step, and I am happy to report that they turned out great. 

Mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process. It helps to have tools in your toolbox to recover from errors and other setbacks, gadgets like my trusty seam ripper.

What are some other tools that can help you handle setbacks?

Mistakes are also an inevitable part of life–not just creative work. It’s a great idea to get good at failing: Acknowledge and label your feelings, don’t label yourself as a failure, and cultivate a sense of humor. Most importantly, remember that failure is an event, not a personality trait. 

Fall down seven times, get up eight. You’ve got this.

All roads lead to you

Two paths in the woods

I have always loved Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Like most people, I initially misunderstood its meaning. I truly believed that taking the road that I thought to be the one less traveled would make all the difference.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

But now I understand that it doesn’t matter what path you take because they are all about the same. Humans love to create meaning, even where there is none. 

So, the path is not important. Moving forward is. Your mindset is.

So just take the next step.


Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

The smallest possible step

Trainers on, going up the steps.

When faced with a project, there is excitement, anticipation, and … dread. We like to do new things, and we get excited about the outcomes: the book, the painting, the new app, the new landscaping, an organized house, a degree. But then it hits us. The work, the long days and nights, giving up free time. Suddenly we are world-class procrastinators looking everywhere but the task at hand. 

So what can we do? 

The secret is breaking the task down into the smallest possible steps. Something that won’t trigger the dread, or the fight or flight feeling. Something that just barely registers as work. You do that, and then you take the first step. And then, you take the next step.

The Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” reminds us that every great journey must begin with the first step. 


Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Just Start

Coffee is a great way to begin.

Every time that I start a project, I doubt myself. I look at projects that I have finished and try to deconstruct them. How did I do it? How did it all fit together? I ask myself these questions as if I had not been in the room during the making. It’s sometimes tempting to copy my past work. I can see it turned out well, it seems safer to repeat myself.

I never do this, but I think about it every single time I sit down to make something new.

It doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes as I approach the finish line, I hate the project. Sometimes I put it away for a while. Sometimes a long while.

But a funny thing happens when I pull it out. It’s not so bad, I think. Sometimes I think, “This is damn good.” And yes, I even think about copying work that I once soundly rejected.

Seeing this pattern, I now know to watch for it. I say to my doubting self, “Trust the process” and “Be okay with failing.”

I try to laugh at the temptation to reverse engineer my own work.

And then I say: “Just start.”


Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash