Dining Room Chats: How to Survive Work from Home When You are Type-A

By Nifer Honeycutt

It has been 52 days since the shelter-in-place order was issued for Chicago.


It’s been a long but enlightening two months, and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when working from home:


Taking Breaks


If you’re like me, you deal with uncertainty and stress by filling every waking moment with a task. You pride yourself on your productivity in the face of adversity, and you brag about how little sleep you’ve gotten. That’s all fine until you HIT THE WALL.


The wall for me was at 2 am on a Tuesday, sitting at the kitchen table working on a PowerPoint presentation. I had worked four 15-hour days in a row, stopping only to sleep and shower. At this moment, I couldn’t focus on anything, and I had retorted several times to my roommate that my “brain was broken.”


I made a decision to take time for myself, to call in sick for a couple of days and just sit on the front porch. I played my ukulele and mastered Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I came back refreshed, with better ideas and a better attitude. None of my bosses held it against me.


Keep a Planner


You may ordinarily be great at keeping dates and deadlines in your head, but isolation changes your internal clock/calendar. Without the rhythm of normal non-isolated life, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks.


For me, a planner is sitting down at the beginning of every week and making a to-do list for each day. This list includes meetings and synchronous Zoom classes. My reward for finishing a task or meeting is crossing it off the list, and it feels good. Most importantly, when the list for each day is done, I stop working.


A planner may be very different for you, but whatever form it takes, it is essential right now.


Exercise


Shelter-in-Place is a great way to gain some extra weight, which is totally fine. There’s no better time to enjoy delicious food (support your local restaurants!!) and a nice comfy couch. But if, like me, that’s making you feel sluggish or low-confidence, it might be time to get on a workout routine. For me, it didn’t even need to be something super productive...I hop on my goofy cheap wobble board and twist for five or ten minutes and I at least feel like I’ve done something. I may not have visible abs, but just taking the time feels good and burns off some of that anxious energy in a positive way.


I’m always going to be Type-A and achievement-motivated. But if I’ve gotten one big thing out of quarantine, it’s that I need to be a person first (and that the kind of people I want to work for fully support that). Love yourself, play some video games sometimes, and drop your advice for keeping your Type-A sanity in the comments.


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