What I Learned Working From Home for One Year

Categorized as Blog, Productivity

On Friday, March 13th, 2020, I packed up my laptop and a few personal items from the agency and left the office with my co-workers for a seemingly unknown amount of time.

COVID was doing horrible things to our U.S. friends down south. Still, it hadn’t yet made its way to Canada much.

However, the following Sunday, our government announced a country-wide state of emergency. So it was a wise call of my brother (also the CEO) to call a vote that day for if we should all start working from home until “things settle down.”

The First 12 Months in Bullet Points (In Order)

  • My wife and I started bulk cooking meals and bulk buying groceries more than we ever have
  • Video calls or “Zoom fatigue” didn’t wear me out as much as other people. Probably because I’m used to being in videos and live streams
  • My coffee intake is now only a few big cups a week, and I switched to mostly drinking earl grey, chai, and plain black tea for my daily caffeine
  • Reaction (the agency I worked for) officially closed its office in downtown Red Deer in December 2020 and fully embraced a digital remote-work business model
  • I build a new custom desk with a floating hutch
  • Christmas and New Year were peaceful and memorable
  • Still regularly stretching and doing many fitness-ey things, I purchased a set of dumbbells and a rowing machine so I can have better workouts at home
  • I started configuring my new computer build in September 2020, and now 8 months later in April 2021, I’m still waiting for 5900x and 3080 Ti inventory!

If It Takes Work to Maintain a Work/Life Balance, You’re Doing Something Wrong

Not everyone is going to love working in the same place as they live. I think it’s a common misconception about this lifestyle.

But I learned that it’s ultimately up to you to define your own work mentality. For me, it’s not uncommon to still have our Slack open on the evenings and weekends, not to mention that work-related notifications have been going to my phone for several years.

I also enjoy thinking about clever new-business ideas or video edits to polish off a final export while I’m in the shower, and that’s perfectly okay.

I am confident where I say the line where my work ends and personal life resumes, and I know that I can optimize it at any time.

The truth for many is that working from home might be an absolutely terrible scenario. To repeat the headline, “If it takes work to maintain a work/life balance, you’re doing something wrong.”

Don’t Waste the Time You Saved by Not Having to Commute

I was thankful to have a short 25-minute round-trip drive to the office and maybe add 10-15 minutes in the winter.

With a bit of routine building and habit stacking, I was able to optimize the fuck out of my mornings to leave time for:

  • Catching up on news
  • Making me and my wife a healthy breakfast
  • Working out and stretching
  • Of course, showering and getting ready
  • Work on building my personal brand
  • Make coffee, tidy up, and say goodbye to Rachel
  • Plan out my tasks for the day
  • Make a coffee/tea and join our team scrum meeting at 9:15 am

The gift of time is not something to be wasted. I don’t think anyone would ever look back on their life and wished they had spent more time procrastinating on doing things they knew were important.

Everyone Is a Live Streamer Now

Whether you work for an online business or not, being on camera in a live setting is becoming more expected. Hopping on a quick video call to give a potential customer a first look at a new vehicle or home appliance is no longer a secret sales tactic.

Now, clothing stores like Lululemon have personal, online shopping experiences for their customers.

For work, I often find myself in 2-hour+ working sessions over Google Meet. Sharing screens, making mistakes in real-time, and breaking down problems into deliverables. It’s awesome, and it’s how I deliver work that my clients love.

I might be the first to ever say this: I wonder how long it will take for grocery stores to have virtual meal planners that can help you coordinate all the food and recipes you need for the week?

People Have Been Working From Home Long Before COVID

Real estate agents, contractors, freelancers, coaches/instructors, psychiatrists, consultants in every industry, regional company reps, content creators, and freelancers all have an element of their work that can be done at home.

In my opinion, I think working from home became a hot topic when businesses were required by health authorities to literally close up their offices, which raised honest questions about overall workplace hygiene as well as confined workspaces. Maybe it no longer makes sense to have small collaboration areas or rows of desks along a wall with people working side by side.