On a Tuesday evening 2 weeks ago, I packed everything that was important to me, drove out the parking lot of my workplace, and haven’t been back since.
Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit.
It’s now day 17 of Malaysia’s Movement Control Order. Not quite 21 days yet, but I can already see myself get used to this new routine.
For someone who has worked online for so many years, you’d think it be easier for me to go from going to work every weekday to working at home.
I thought so too.
Of course, I was wrong.
The first day of working from home went by as expected: in a disaster.
I hadn’t quite prepared my temporary office (my room) for the demands of formality and structure. I had taken for granted certain boundaries that you keep at work, and loosen up at home.
So halfway through a kick-off call with a new client, my nephew started knocking at my door loudly. I panicked. This was something important. Yet, there was almost nothing I could do.
Thankfully, he managed opened the door just a crack, and I subtly waved for him to stop knocking. Disaster averted.
Kids will be kids. I didn’t blame him.
Like any new habit, the first week is always the hardest. I had always enjoyed having the freedom of going out every once in a while, so learning to build my entire routine at home made me feel claustrophobic.
No driving. No swimming. No karate. No food at my favourite restaurants.
That was hard.
Just a month before, I had started to love eating the vegetarian mutton dish at a local restaurant (I hope it survives).
To gain focus and clarity about the situation, I found myself meditating a little longer every morning. I tried to keep to my usual working hours: 7 am – 8/9 pm on weekdays. No slacking. No TV. No games during these hours.
I’m one of the lucky ones: I still have a job. So I don’t complain, no matter if I had to work an extra 20 – 30 hours to adapt to the new situation.
No complaints, only gratitude.
Week 2 was a lot easier. I was starting to build to see a routine. Businesses around me were also adapting to the situation. Essentials like eggs were now available by delivery. So I ordered 5 trays that week.
In the same week, I started testing new remote working tools and spent a few hundred dollars I normally wouldn’t on them.
I’m writing this now at the end of Week 3. I’ve had too much coffee in the last 2 days and have slept a total of 5 hours maybe.
At this juncture, I’m starting to optimise my routine. I’m working out more consistently. I’m sleeping better. I’m more productive.
Most importantly though, I’ve become more opportunistic as well – I’m starting to see more positives than negatives from this situation.
When week 4 rolls around next Monday, I think I’ll do just fine. It will be 21 days by then too, just enough for me to build this working from home habit.
What about you? How are you coping?