I know that this month feels weird and if you’re anything like most folks, you’re feeling pretty anxious right now about the virus sweeping the world and the changes to normal life.
I personally am feeling very fortunate right now because, not only am I healthy (as is my family), but I already work from home 80% of the time. Darling Marcelle is owned, operated by me out of a room in my house in Richmond, CA. And even before I started Darling Marcelle, I gravitated towards jobs where I was left to work by myself. What this means is that my life is carrying on very much as it did pre-COVID-19, with a couple exceptions; I’ve lost income from regular workshops I led previously and now my husband is now also working from home.
Because this plague-life is so similar to me as non-plague life, I feel like I have some insight on how to work from home without losing your marbles, so I’ve got a couple tips below. It’s also time for the March Playlist, so if you’re a-ok with #WFH life, skip to the bottom of the page to get straight to the earworms.
FOCUS ON THE GOODWhen I’m by myself all of the time, it can be really easy for me to fall into a rabbit hole of anxiety and hopelessness. Years ago, I noticed that when I was reviewing how the day went, I only seemed to remember the bad things – the rude email, the fact some jerk cut me off on the road, the item I didn’t get done on my to-do list. Even if something great happened, I either would forget or downplay its significance. And it’s natural to focus on the bad – doing so kept our ancestors safe in a far more dangerous world. But, it’s not so essential in our relatively cushioned existences. A technique to start rewiring this tendency in myself basically fell in my lap. I went to an art exhibition and the artist handed me a clicker – the type that bouncers use to count how many guests are inside – and she ordered me to walk around the block and click every time I saw something I liked. This gallery was located in a pretty grungy part of town, so this seemed like a tall order, but I turned around and started looking around. First off, I noticed how much I’d never seen before, despite being pretty familiar with the area. Then I noticed a lot of ugliness – trash on the ground, etc., but since the assignment was to click when I saw things I liked, I started looking more intently around. At first, it was hard, I just found one or two things the first minute, but once my mind was primed, I saw beauty all over! The simple act of noticing things I liked totally changed my mindset – I couldn’t help but see beauty all over the place! Later, I realized I could use this technique to try to change my pessimistic outlook. I ordered a clicker online and kept it in my purse to click whenever something came to mind. At the end of the day, I would see how many clicks I got to and I felt really happy when the number was higher than 20. And it really changed my outlook – since negative things didn’t count toward clicks, I quickly brushed them off. I don’t use my clicker any more, but I still keep it on my desk as a reminder to focus on all the good.
CREATE A ROUTINE
This sounds basic, but having a routine is comforting. When you first start something new, like working from home, there are so many decisions to me made – where to sit, how to focus, even what to do. Decisions are stressful and so are new situations – that’s why when you adopt a dog, the first thing you’re told to do is to set a routine, so the dog knows what to expect because knowing what comes next is calming. People benefit from knowing what comes next just like dogs. So try to come up with a basic outline for your day, and don’t forget to include things for your own comfort. For example, I usually start my day by outlining my priorities, then I do 5 to 10 minutes of guided meditation. I will work at my desk in the morning, filling orders and responding to email. When it comes to my lunch break, when the weather allows it, I generally take lunch outside in the backyard with my animals. It’s a small thing, but it’s nice for all of us to get some fresh air and change of scenery and then I feel re-energized to get back to work.
LISTEN TO MUSIC
As you can probably tell, since I make monthly playlists, music is really important to me. I can’t play any instruments and my singing ability can be described as painfully bad, but I have been an enthusiastic imbiber of music my whole life. One of my favorite quotes about music is attributed to Plato who said,
“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”
Basically, it boils down to music is freaking magic and makes everything better. My entire day is filled with music – I listen to a constant stream of albums and playlists, which change depending on my mood. Which brings me to this month’s playlist – my inspiration for this month was the idea of Going Underground because obviously, most people are hunkering down right now to try to reduce the rate of COVID-19 infections. This playlist starts with a song on that very topic – Going Underground by The Jam. From there I included a variety of songs, primarily from the 70s , such as "Search and Destroy" by The Stooges, "Kick Out the Jams" by MC5, and some Velvet Underground classics, but also a few more recent (such as the just-released song "Lick the Bag" by The Viagra Boys.) This theme of this playlist is resilience and joy (with a heavy dose of post punk attitude). I’ve already had it on repeat for the last two days, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Take care of yourselves and tell me what you think in the comments!