Several months ago, I wrote about all the mistakes I made while working from home. In that post I talked about how a lack of exercise, unhealthy work habits, and a false sense of self quickly led to burnout. In that post, I left you with the following thoughts:
- We are more than what we do to make money.
- We are complex human beings inside and outside of the classroom.
- Our value is not as a martyr to an unjust educational system.
And like all life experiences, I’ve continued to make mistakes while WFH (working from home). It wasn’t long before I had a sizable list of mistakes to share with you. So, if you’re looking to transition away from teaching, or if you simply want to learn from my many mistakes, just keep reading.
Working by the Hour
I used to maintain strict work hours, regardless of how far along I was in a project. I matched my workday with my husband’s typical 8-5 job. It didn’t matter whether I’d finished five projects or just one, I was at the computer for my set number of hours, no matter what.
I was not being a good boss to myself, nor was I paying attention to the research that continues to show that working longer hours doesn’t equal more productivity. Now, my working days are project-based, rather than hour-based. In fact, I’m most productive when my workdays are short and focused. Speaking of focus…
I used to keep all of my social media notifications turned on. I’d get a notification, I’d read it, I’d feel obligated to respond immediately, and then I’d spend the next few minutes focused on my response. And before I knew it, I was scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. Social media was doing exactly what it was designed to do, and I was mindlessly going along for the ride.
As it turns out, people won’t unfriend you if you don’t respond to them right away (and if they do, it’s their loss). When the roles are reversed, it’s my hope that people will respond to me only when they have time and are able, not the moment I send the message. I don’t want to pull anyone away from their work, family time, rest, or extra cuddles with their cat.
Repeated Stress Injuries
Like most former teachers, I never listened to my body and all the warning signals it was giving me. When going to the bathroom is a luxury, you learn to ignore all kinds of things. Sitting at my computer all day and not taking sufficient breaks was a recipe for disaster. When it comes to the keyboard and mouse work that my job requires, it’s simply not enough to take a five minute break every four hours.
Let me ask you a few questions: How are you sitting right now? Are you slumped over? Is one elbow resting on your desk? Is your head tilted down as you read? Are your shoulders relaxed? Are your legs supported with your feet resting on the floor? While your answers may not seem like a big deal to you now, there are always consequences for your actions, whether it be tomorrow or ten years down the road. If you’d like some advice on ergonomics, be sure to read this post, where I discuss a healthy WFH setup.
The general public doesn’t fully understand what music teachers do, and that’s okay. I don’t fully understand what rocket scientists do, but I can still appreciate that their job is complex and that it provides value to our society. Reactions to me WFH are mixed; and involve negativity or complete apathy. Lucky for me, I have an amazing support system of friends who absolutely get it and are my cheerleaders. My mistake is that I rarely lean on them, and I’m trying hard to change that.
While I’ve learned a lot about WFH, it’s not a linear path. I have no doubt I’ll be writing a post on this topic again in the future, after I’ve slipped up and need a reminder on how to work from home in a healthy way. Whether you are transitioning away from teaching or are doing part-time work from home, I hope this list of reminders is helpful to you.