I have internet, so I’m aware that there are countless articles with tips and tricks to maintaining a healthy work/life balance while working from home during a pandemic. To be fair, I’m not adding anything particularly innovative to this conversation when I suggest you simply do the following: (1) Declutter your space in order to calm your mind. (2) Embrace the storm of this uncharted territory. Where I believe I can help is in the execution.
When your email inbox seems to be mercilessly replenishing, while your phone is ringing off the hook, and you’ve had to cancel yet another socially distanced Bumble “date” (read: sweaty walk on the Westside Highway) because your boss just asked you to get her something “ASAP,” take a deep breath. Fight the impulse to take a nap, and instead, clean out a closet. I’m not suggesting you organize your entire home by category, à la Marie Kondo. Only one little closet.
Take the Amazon packages from three years ago that you meant to return, the old puffy jackets with the stuffing bubbling out of the frayed seams, the enormous air purifier you actually love but never remember to buy replacement filters for, and donate them if they’re salvageable. Throw them away if they’re not. That’s it! But most articles fail to delineate exactly why having a well-organized closet will center you, and it wasn’t always abundantly clear to me either until I found myself working from home.
The next time your emails flood in quickly enough to drown you, or you’ve forgotten what it sounds like when your phone is not ringing, or your toddler vandalizes your home and calls it an “art project,” roll out your neck, stretch your hamstrings (pro tip: don’t skip this step), walk over to your newly decluttered closet, twist the knob, step inside, and shut the door behind you. Enjoy the dark. Savor the scurrying footsteps and slightly panicked calls outside the door as your boyfriend or children search for you, never suspecting the “junk closet” has enough space for you in it. You have found peace, and all you had to do was take a moment to organize your closet. Namaste.
Me: WFH is gonna be amazing
*2 days later*
Working from home is a SCAM all our bosses know we have LITERALLY NOWHERE TO BE so they can bother us at ANY TIME
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) March 18, 2020
Thanks to Instagram’s #inspirationalquotes, we all know that storms in life are merely tests. But we are never told how to pass!
The next time you’re pretty sure your camera angle just showed your whole team that you weren’t wearing pants during your Zoom, open yourself up to the storm. Literally. Open weather.com, scroll down below the “daily forecast” to the “breaking news” segment and take note of where those gale force winds are growing stronger. Then unplug. Take a few hours in front of the TV, cook some dinner, read to your kids, walk your dog, or make love to your quarantine boyfriend whom you’d only be casually seeing were it not a pandemic. When you’re feeling ready to work again, simply respond to the slew of angry emails by explaining that the storm knocked out your WiFi, apologize profusely for the delay, and get on with your day. Nobody knows where you’re working from anyway! Pro-tip: Refer to a tropical storm or hurricane by its proper human name to really sell the story. The storm is your friend. Embrace it.
Working from home during a global pandemic is really just as simple as organizing and embracing. I know the countless articles on this topic are written by MDs and PhDs, and that I am neither of these things. But I did have three really productive days while working from home back in June, so in the national spirit of throwing medical advice and empirical data to the wind, this should be the new authoritative article on the subject.
In all seriousness, I don’t presume to know what each of you is going through at work or at home—especially when the two are combined—on any particular day. What I do know is that we all want to hide or unplug sometimes. My only real piece of advice is to try to be gentle with yourself, and every so often, indulge the desire to disappear for a while.
Images: XPS / Unsplash; @betchesluvthis / Twitter
I have to tell you guys something. I am kind of a hoarder. Like, not in a gross A&E kind of way, but just in that I buy too many things and keep them forever “just in case”. My bathroom is a super organized graveyard of products in every scent imaginable, and yet I keep buying the same two things I actually use and don’t touch anything else. It doesn’t help that I’m the reigning queen of bargain shopping, as I can get a lot of stuff for a great price. Meaning I have a lot of stuff I don’t need. I’m moving soon, so I am currently on a decluttering spree to completely clean out my entire life and move into my smaller and somehow more expensive apartment (ugh) without every cocktail dress I wore to sorority formals in college. If you need to declutter your life rn too, here are my tips.
1. Follow The One Year Rule
The One Year Rule is simple. If you haven’t worn it or used it in a year, it needs to go. The exception is if it’s like a cocktail attire or a costume—something you need on hand, but don’t use on the reg. A good way to test this out is to put all your hangers in your closet backwards. When you wear and replace an item, you put it in facing forwards. In a year, you donate anything that still has a backwards hanger. I do this, and I still cry when I get rid of the “back hanger” items. On that note, get rid of anything damaged, anything with bad memories, or anything that no longer fits. Look, I want to be optimistic too. I currently have all of my size 0 dresses from my sorority days, ready and waiting or me to give up carbs and alcohol so I can fit in them again. But let’s be real, I don’t want to do that. And really, those dresses are too slutty for my adult aesthetic. I don’t care to be pulling it up to cover my breasts or down to cover my vag all night long. Your clothes need to fit. Get rid of it all, or take it to a place like Plato’s Closet that buys gently used clothing, and get some cash to buy stuff that you look amazing in.
2. Toss Everything Expired Or That You Don’t Like
You (and okay, fine, I) need to go through all of your (my) old makeup and bath products. If you haven’t used it in a year, it needs to go. If it’s eyeliner and mascara, it expires after 3-6 months. Most products have a tiny container printed on the back with a number in it—that is the expiration date. And let’s be real—if you’ve had the same lotion for three years and haven’t used it yet, you probably just don’t like it very much. Toss it and move on. While you’re at it, clean out makeup applicators, brushes, and sponges you don’t use, and wash the brushes you’re keeping. Also? If you have some products that are full/barely used, companies like Sephora and Bath & Body Works will return or exchange them, even if they’re super old. So if you have a few candles that you’ve kept but hate the smell of, go exchange them for things you actually like. If you have a ton of unopened products that you can’t return, donate them to a women’s shelter.
3. Go Through Your Desk And Shred Your Documents
I really love taking old papers, receipts, bills, and tossing them in a drawer. Now I never open my desk drawers because they’re soooo full of random paper. Guess what, guys? Am I ever going to be like, “oh good thing I saved this gynecologist bill that I paid online three months ago?” F*ck, no. Get a couple of chic boxes or folders to keep important paperwork and another for photos (does anyone still have printed photos?) and keepsakes, and toss everything else out. Also, you can get a shredder for documents with important info on them, and also, shredding is weirdly satisfying. But clean all that out, including all the old receipts and papers in your purse. You’re never going to look at them anyway and any receipt can be traced from your credit card online.
4. Switch Your Wardrobe By Season
If you want to keep up a minimalist aesthetic and be able to find things quickly in your closet, I highly recommend switching your wardrobe for the season. Do you need to be digging through huge winter coats in July to get to your cute summer tops? Um, no. Double your closet space by dividing your clothing into two categories: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Keep whatever section is out of season in under-the-bed storage containers, or get a chic trunk for the foot of your bed. I live in LA, where we don’t even have seasons, but I still do this because I’m not going to wear maxi dresses in fall/winter anyway, nor will I wear my oversize knit sweaters in July. It saves so much space in my closet. I even put special event clothing—like cocktail dresses, etc.—in a container under my bed too, since I don’t need to look through it every day.
5. Clean Out (Or Sell) Your Technology
To fully declutter your life, you also should clean out your old technology. If you’re hoarding old iPhones or dated laptops, companies like Amazon and BestBuy will actually buy this stuff back from you. It takes up space and you’re never going to be like, “hm, forget my awesome brand-new headphones, I really miss the gigantic ones that don’t work well from the 90’s I’ve been saving in a box for 15 years for some reason” (wtf is wrong with me, guys?). When you’ve gotten this old stuff out of your physical space, you should also clean out your current technology. Copy old photos from your phone to your computer so you’ll stop getting that super annoying “out of space” message. Backup your important files to an external drive or an online backup service, like Crashplan, that does it automatically daily. As a digital artist and writer, it’s saved my life a few times. Delete anything super old or unnecessary, like old homework files, programs you don’t use, apps you’re no longer into, music you’re sick of listening to, etc. While you’re at it, clean out your phone contacts, especially ones like “John Painting Class” or “Tom “. Obvi you didn’t like them enough to learn their last names, so they’ve gotta go.
Images: Arnel Hasanovic / Unsplash; Giphy (3)