Working from Home and Keeping Your Sanity

When I had a scheduled job that I went to everyday Monday through Friday I would often say, “I can’t wait until I can just wake up and write, nothing else.” I couldn’t wait for those work from home days where I could just sit in my PJ’s and write or get dressed up just to go sit in a cafe and type like one of those hipster kids. I thought it was going to be sunny days, outfit of the day posts, free as a bird in the spring and summer. I thought the winter was going to be cozy and easy and relaxed, working from home, but I didn’t anticipate becoming a couch potato, nor was I prepared for the constant cabin fever outbreaks. I wasn’t prepared for the endless…or what felt like endless days since my schedule was completely flexible, and I wasn’t prepared to lose days of the week since Mondays felt like Tuesdays and Tuesdays felt like Fridays and Fridays felt like Wednesdays…you get the point. Don’t get me wrong, working from home has it’s pluses until you find yourself calling upon the Justice League to help you fight the laziness that’s holding you captive in bed. It’s easy to lose motivation, to not feel like doing anything at any given moment and it’s easy to find yourself on the brink of insanity in the walls of your home. So I had to think outside the box to come up with some things to keep me sane when working from home.

Create a creative space that’s conducive to creativity. 

Modern creative workspace on yellow wall.

How’s that for some dope alliteration? But I found that working from home was most unproductive for me when done in my bedroom. A bedroom is a place associated with rest and relaxation and I always found myself sprawled out on my bed lounging and aimlessly surfing the web more than I was being productive. So I went out and got a little table and a nice accent chair and decorated a nice space with colors and art to keep me motivated and away from my bed. It also gives me something to look forward to because I’m excited to sit in my colorful chair in my colorful corner. *sings* “in my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be…” Of course Brandy sung it better.

Get A Change of Scenery

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I spent the past week in Baltimore visiting and touring the city with my significant other, but work had to continue because deadlines were still approaching. Even though I was working on the same content, I felt a fresh sense of renewal doing it from another city in another state. I sat by the harbor jotting notes in my Moleskine while taking in the scenery of the harbor, I toured the inside of an art museum, I walked a college campus and I was also a couch potato in someone else’s house, but the point is changing locations even if it’s as small and simple as walking to the local cafe, coffee shop or library or sitting in a park can make all the difference in boosting creativity, motivation and certainly combating cabin fever.

Step Away from the CPU…and nobody gets hurt!

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No, but seriously in the words of OutKast, you got to get up, get out and get moving. Sometimes cabin fever comes when we refuse to unglue ourselves from our screens. You find yourself having a brain fart and writer’s block and you’re just stuck. The best way to remedy that is to close the laptop, put the computer on hibernate and go do something else for a bit. Finish a workout DVD, fold some laundry, catch up on a missed show episode, make you some lunch or better go and buy you some lunch, take a walk, call a friend, etc. Sometimes you just need a mental break.

Create a routine

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If you didn’t have a 9-5 schedule at an office job and you were told to work around the clock would you? No? So why do it at home? Even though you’re working from home and can do so whenever you please as long as deadlines are being met, that doesn’t mean you work all day. Create a routine and set a specific amount of time aside for work just like you would at a regular office job including lunch and bathroom breaks. When the work day is over, the work day is over.

Are You Living or Are You Existing?

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I woke up this morning with a heart full of gratitude. I thought about all of the doors that are opening for me. I thought about my purpose and the passion that I’ve been chasing. Truth is, everything that I’ve been doing is coming full circle from my desire to work with teens and teen girls and my desire to be a writer…the webs are connecting. Finally. So I took an opportunity recently as a full-time high school teacher with KIPP NJ. I figured it would definitely help my writing and speaking skills, it would most certainly help me to understand a huge portion of my audience when it comes to the books I have prepared: teens, and it wouldn’t hurt to be able to fund those published author dreams in the process. Yes, I am still writing for Madame Noire, Upscale Magazine and editing for Black Girl Magik, so imagine the stretching that’s about to take place come September. Yikes!

I see often on social media “I know I wasn’t born to just pay bills and die.” My question is…what are you doing in your life so that you aren’t JUST paying bills and aging? Ask yourself are you really living or just existing and what can you do so that you can fully start to appreciate your life in it’s entirety? For me, it lied in financial security and freedom. I am literally a starving artist. My plate is always full, but my bank accounts are also always near empty and I knew that in order to fully embrace my life again as I had when I was in Newark…I had to change my perspective on things. I quit my job in October 2015 because I hated it there. I was at a place that only allowed me to exist and trying to live often left me broke and hungry. So I figured, hey I’m going to pursue this writing thing full time…in the meantime until I finally figure out my place. Well, I found it…let the living commence!!

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Anyway, lately I’ve been connecting with some pretty awesome and inspiring people who dream beyond their 9-5’s, but who also know that they need their 9-5’s in order to live their dreams. One guy, in particular, named Stephen talked to me about his daily checklist and how he holds himself accountable in all aspects of his life. As he was talking, I found myself writing down what he was saying. I wrote down every question on his daily checklist and I thought for someone who realizes they are existing and wish to start living, this is a great place to start.

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Now, these questions might do absolutely nothing for you, but the most important thing is that you’re asking questions about your life because when you ask questions it means that you’re curious and when you’re curious it means that there is still room for growth and when you’re growing, you’ll never find yourself in the same spot every single day existing.

Are you living or are you existing? Are you dancing or are you holding up the wall?

 

 

Today’s Message is Brought to You by “Why”

FullSizeRender (19)If I had to sum my week up in a few words it would be stressful, anxious, exhausting, and exciting. On Wednesday, I accepted a job offer that required me to go back to school to get a second Master’s degree through a residency program. I immediately got excited because I’m one of those weird people who loves school and what’s even better is I don’t have to pay for it. BUT everything came at me so fast. So this week was filled with phone calls, signing contracts, filling out forms, requesting transcripts, tying up loose ends and preparing for my first day of classes on Monday. This week presented so many hurdles. The icing on the cake was damaging the screen on my phone to where it was unusable. Things were piling up. I was getting overwhelmed. I felt myself drowning, so I had to shut everything down and take a walk….multiple times this week. As I took those walks, two options wrestled in my mind. I can cut the stress, say bump this job and grad school or I could just stay exactly where I am now: juggling a million deadlines, losing sleep, working hard and still being broke, living at home with my parents. “Touching” thirty, that last option didn’t seem to appealing.

I thought about all the things the first option would afford me. For starters, it would give me the financial freedom that I need at 26 years old. It would help me comfortably pay my bills, enjoy my life and fund my dreams, but most of all make a direct impact on the next generation who’d be filling our shoes. I mean that’s all I talk about anyway right? I thought about why I had decided to do this and the stress started to fall away little by little. I just needed to remember why.

So today’s message is brought to you by the question “why” because the question why is the beginning of your soul searching journey, your curiosity, and your need for answers. It is one of the most important purpose driven questions you can ask yourself at any stage of your life.

German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’ Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living (are you living or are you existing). Indeed, only when you know your ‘why’ will you find the courage to take the risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated when the chips are down, and move your life onto an entirely new, more challenging, and more rewarding trajectory.

But what happens when you ask “why,” but haven’t received an answer? You start to feel like your life has no purpose. You start to feel like maybe you’re just here to exist because at this point, there is nothing extraordinary about what you’re doing and you have no idea what you even want to do beyond that. Well, I am here to tell you that you are wrong and that finding your “why” requires more than just one question, but it’s not has hard as you think…in fact it’s probably been right in front of you all along. So let’s clear up that vision shall we? 

In life we have the things that we want and the things that we need and there are times when they just don’t overlap. Sometimes they are completely on different wave lengths and you find yourself being stretched in two different directions, but they are BOTH contributing to your growth in positive ways. So naturally you’ll try to find some middle ground in all of it, but you still haven’t been able to figure out your “why.” I was in that same place a few months ago and there are times even when I’ve moved on, I’ll find myself back at that place.

Through all of that searching and questioning and thinking, I came across an article by author and leadership guru John Addison on “How to Find Your Why in Life” in Success Magazine. I wrote down all of the questions he ensured would help (you guys know I love questions) and decided to answer them for myself, but now I want you to answer them for yourself.

What is your definition of success?

Notice I said “your,” meaning what do you need to do and achieve in order for you to say that you have a successful life. I don’t want to hear what other people have or do that makes them successful because you’re not them. So if you’re about to tell me your definition of success is to have a Lambo, huge mansion, loaded bank account, I’m going to assume you’ve been watching MTV Cribs (does that still come on?). So think about that.

What are you passionate about?

I often come across articles and interviews with successful people who share advice and tips on how to turn the things they’re passionate about into their careers and the one thing that they all have in common is they never grow up…or at least on the inside…I mean dream wise. You get it. Remember when we were kids, we literally wanted to be everything even if it didn’t make sense at the time. We were innocent and naive and that’s what made our dreams so pure and vivid. As you get older, you realize you need that type of dreaming in your life again even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

You might be passionate about collecting a certain type of toy (like Treasure Trolls)…or you might consider yourself an candy connoisseur…they sound childish, but are they really? Anyway, the things that you are passionate about are literally compasses to finding your “why.” They’re pointing you in the right direction so pay attention.

If money were no object, what would you do?

In my last post, I talked about needing financial freedom in order for me to stop existing and to really start living. Money isn’t everything, but as a dreamer and someone with a load of passion projects cooking, having financial freedom would do a great deal for me. So if money weren’t an object, I’d be able to focus more on building my brand. What would you do if money weren’t an object for you?

Finding your “why” doesn’t have to be like climbing Mount Everest. It just requires you to pay attention to the things that you respond positively to and the things that make you happy. Trust me, everything ALWAYS comes full circle.

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