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
If you didn’t already think time was a social construct, the last six months have probably changed your mind. The movie you said you watched last weekend? That was two months ago. And the tweet you thought you saw last week? It was posted today. Since we’re all online literally all day and have nothing better to do than run a new meme into the ground hours after it’s created, new trends come and go faster than ever before. While the banana bread and sourdough baking phase is probably seared so permanently into your memory that you’ll be telling your grandkids about it when they ask about 2020, there are probably a few trends and moments that have already been erased.
The Carrot Challenge
Approximately two days into quarantine, everyone was apparently already so bored that they resorted to an Instagram challenge where they tagged their friends to draw a carrot on their story. It is truly remarkable to look back at this moment in time and realize how naïve we were that we could have possibly thought that was the worst it was going to get.
This feels like something from an entirely different time, back when there was still hope (aka mid March). Thanks to one of the first TikTok trends to pop up in quarantine, people everywhere were using the 20 minutes that they’d usually spend commuting to the office to whisk coffee into a froth. Given that I haven’t heard anything about this in a few months, it seems like people have now realized that time is better spent sleeping in.
this quarantine is really testing the limits of what photos make the cut for a throwback post on instagram
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 8, 2020
Another long-forgotten trend is the “Until Tomorrow” era, a time when you couldn’t open Instagram without seeing a feed full of embarrassing photos, bad selfies, and baby pictures (that would be taken down the next day to avoid total humiliation). Personally I think taking your photo down is a weak move, since true Instagram baddies have had embarrassing photos up since 2010 and never took them down no matter how bad (and over-filtered) they were.
“First Photo” Challenge
As I’m sure all the other single people quarantining alone would agree, this challenge felt like a personal attack. Seriously, couples posting their first pics together? Like, did I ask for every other Insta story to remind me that I’ll be riding out a pandemic alone and getting dressed up for FaceTime dates for the foreseeable future?
Remember that week (or was it a month? Who knows) where you got a notification every five minutes that someone was going live on Instagram? Including the girls from high school “running their own businesses” showing you how to use their essential oils? My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who accidentally joined someone’s live where there were only two other people watching. Leaving one of those is almost as uncomfortable as the split second of eye-contact you make with your boss every time you exit a Zoom meeting.
“See 10, do 10?” Yeah, I’m good thanks. I haven’t done a push-up since I was forced to for the fitness test in elementary school, and I won’t be picking those back up because someone tagged me in an Instagram story.
The memory of Tiger King feels like a fever dream. Like, we were really so desperate for entertainment at that point that we just ate that sh*t up and said “NEXT, PLEASE.” It’s kind of incredible that we got desensitized to the absurdity of every single event that happened in that series so quickly. But given how f*cked up everything has become since then, it was good preparation for coping with the rest of the year.
Zoom Happy Hours
if you're still scheduling 14 zoom happy hours every weekend you can chill, we all just want to sleep
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) April 24, 2020
Realizing that having a Zoom happy hour every night of the week does not make up for real-life interaction was a breakthrough that took longer than it should have. Playing drinking games at home is fun when you have somewhere to go afterward, not when you’ll just be sitting in your childhood bedroom, totally wasted, after you shut your laptop.
The “One New Thing A Day” Phase
I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who started quarantine by saying “I’ll be making one new cocktail a day!” or “Every day I’m going to make one new piece of art!” Where’d they go? Last I heard from them it was day 14 I think. Are they okay?
Instagram challenges and TikTok trends will come and go, but you know what will never go out of style? Wearing a f*cking mask.
Images: Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash; bigkidproblems / Instagram; betchesluvthis / Twitter
Let’s be real: we’re at the point in quarantine when all of those “what day is it?” memes are starting to feel a little too on the nose. Tensions are running high, and the only people you’re allowed to see are most likely the ones responsible for pissing you off. Even if you previously loved your roommate(s), you might be starting to find yourself annoyed at the mere sound of their door opening. (And if you already hated your roommates, well, let’s just hope they’re still alive.)
If this resonates, take a deep breath: your relationship with your roommate doesn’t have to suffer just because you’re now seeing one another more frequently than twins in utero. Personally, I’m one of the most easily annoyed human beings on the planet and I’ve somehow… gotten closer with my roommates? Whether it’s the collective trauma, or our pathetically earnest attitudes to keep the peace, or the sacred gift that is wine delivery, we’re finding ways to make these close quarters work. Here are some suggestions for you to do the same:
Try To Keep Separate Schedules
I may have not taken a math class since my freshman year of college, but I’m logical enough to know that the more you see your roommate, the more likely they are to start pissing you off. Maybe you’re feeling claustrophobic because you both keep trying to make dinner at the exact same time. Or maybe they won’t stop binging Five Wives when all you want to do is marathon Sex and the City. In any case, it’s frustrating to feel like your space isn’t truly yours.
Try to combat this by adhering to separate schedules. If your roommate is in the main area, maybe take some solo time in your room for FaceTime dates, catching up on a good book, or testing out a DIY face mask you used to never have time for. If you show that you’re respecting their space (and they’re a decent person), they’ll hopefully do the same for you.
Distract Yourselves With A Shared Project
Please do not bring your Tik Tok dances to the bars when they open
— Tay (@g0nefisching) April 20, 2020
Whether it’s finally organizing the hallway closet, a Pinterest craft, or getting TikTok famous, connecting over a shared project eliminates boredom, and thus some of the tension that may arise when quarantining with another. Plus, a shared project gives you and your roommate something to bond over. Months from now, you can look back at that gallery wall and think, “Aww, remember how we survived this incredibly anxiety-inducing time together?”
Give Yourself Some Date Nights
One of the first things a couples therapist will suggest to struggling partners is to find ways to “rekindle the magic.” Try to do the same thing with your roommate, but without making it weird. (Unless you both want that, in which case, godspeed.)
Find something you share in common and make an activity out of it. This could include having a DIY cocktail night, ordering a huge spread of Chinese takeout, or busting out a puzzle. Quarantine can be brutally depressing for everyone, but by finding ways to make it more fun, you’ll squash some of those bad vibes and create adorable memories.
Build An Apartment Registry For Stuff You Want To Buy
Nothing brings people together like adding things to your online cart and never actually buying them. At the very least, it will get you both onto your computers and out of each other’s faces. Check out some of the killer online sales right now, or scan Etsy to support small businesses. If you don’t have similar tastes, stray away from things like art and throw pillows and look more at utilitarian pieces like vacuums, vegetable spiralizers, and Vitamixes.
Have An Honest (But Chill) Conversation About Cleaning And Social Distancing
Cleaning is inarguably more important during a pandemic, which can be a real problem if your roommate is a Joey and you’re a Monica. To protect yourself from potential resentment, sit down and discuss what you’re going to do to be safe and responsible over the next few months. Also consider using this time to discuss social distancing etiquette—it’s best to be super clear so your roommate isn’t bringing a rando Brad over for the umpteenth time.
If your roommate isn’t taking hygiene or social distancing seriously, lead with empathy and facts: I know you that really wanna hook up with right now, but I don’t feel safe. If they’re still breaking the rules, call the cops. (JK, but maybe consider getting a new roommate after all of this is over.)
Revisit Some Classic Rom-Coms
Just watched You’ve Got Mail. Such a cute movie OMG. Who knew Dave Chapelle was in it!!
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 3, 2020
It’s hard to feel any sort of negativity when you’re watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fall in love against a Seattle skyline. Or watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fall in love in a NYC bookstore. Or watching Meg Ryan fall in love with Billy Crystal amidst a picturesque fall backdrop. If 90s rom-coms aren’t your thing (first of all, how dare you) find something else like, Harry Potter… or IDK, Jurassic Park. Just pick something you both sort of enjoy, shut up, and let your eyes glaze over as you bond over the gentle escape to a pre-COVID-19 world.
Celebrate A Random Holiday
We’re hoping to be let out of this metaphorical prison soon, but in the mean time we might as well find something to celebrate. Luckily, there are a ton of random holidays in May and June that make it acceptable to throw a “roomies only” party. Pick one and make a big to-do about celebrating it—holidays include National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15), National Wine Day (
every day May 25), Hug Your Cat Day (June 4), Best Friends Day (June 8), International Sushi Day (June 18), and National Selfie Day (June 21). Interpret as you will.
Vent To An Unrelated Friend Or Family Member
Despite all of your efforts, there very well might be a time when you just cannot with your roommate. If that’s the case, lock yourself in your room, make sure the walls are soundproof enough (and if not, turn on some music) and call a family member or unbiased friend to complain. If you’re still worried about your roommate hearing, wait until they’re on a walk, or write it out. Getting your feelings out privately will release some of the tension without having to jeopardize your relationship.
Find Something (Or Someone) You Both Hate And Trash Talk Together
really sad I won’t be able to judge celebs at the met gala while wearing sweatpants this year
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 4, 2020
If my corporate career taught me anything, it’s that one of the best ways to bond with someone is by trash talking someone else. What’s something everyone can dislike? Donald Trump? Influencers who aren’t following social distancing rules? The supporting cast of Gossip Girl? Whatever it is, pour a glass of wine and cozy up to complain. Not only will you get out that negativity, but you’ll also bond over your mutual hatred! So cute.
Distract Yourself If You Feel Like Fighting
According to my therapist, our brains are in a constant state of Fight or Flight mode right now—meaning it’s going to be a lot easier for your buttons to be pushed. If you feel yourself starting to spiral into meltdown mode, give yourself some privacy. Go into your bedroom and rage journal like you’re 13 and your younger sister just drew a moustache on your American Girl Doll. Do a hair mask, watch TV on your laptop, take a shower, just do something to save yourself from starting World War III. While it may not be as satisfying, it will save your relationship, and thus your sanity, in the long run.
Remember That This Time Sucks, And Empathize
Quarantine feels terrible for everyone, and it’s not like you and your roommate can slide into each other’s brains and automatically know one another’s feelings. Maybe your roommate is being cranky or lazy because they’re stressed with work, coping with a layoff, or homesick. Their being kind of rude probably has nothing to do with you. It might be hard, but in the moments when you’re feeling annoyed, consider taking a step back and looking at your roommate with affection rather than aggression.
In other words, the world is kind of scary right now and we’re all feeling a little anxious. Be the voice to soothe that anxiety, rather than contribute to it. Not only will this keep you from hating your roommate, but it might even (gasp) bring you closer together? Who knew.
Images: Jorge Flores / Unsplash; gonefisching, kimkardashian, betchesluvthis / Twitter
For millennials and Gen-Zers, the COVID-19 pandemic is the most intense economic and social crisis we have faced in our lifetime. At first not everyone was taking it seriously (and some spring breakers in Florida still aren’t) but as things have gotten exponentially worse in such a short time, we are all faced with a new reality. And that reality looks a hell of lot like working from home for an undefined time period, if you are lucky enough to be able to do so.
Working from home for a couple days here or there is completely different from WFH indefinitely, which is sadly what the future holds right now. That fact in and of itself can be demotivating, so here are a few tips of how to stay motivated and productive when you’re stuck working from home.
Since you can’t go over to someone’s desk to talk to them like in the good old days, chances are you’re relying on a chat service like Slack to interact with your coworkers, or at a bare minimum, email. Think of all those little convos you have at work that aren’t necessarily meetings, but still are about projects you’re working on, like the quick unplanned touch base you and your work wife have as you make avocado toast in the office kitchen. Keep those convos alive—emails or Slack messages don’t all have to be super formal requests. Letting people know what you are working on and just providing status updates also helps motivate others because let’s be real, even in the office we can’t help but to think sometimes “WTF is that person even doing?” is they’re not Slacking you back immediately. But don’t just limit this to some people—keep your team and your manager informed.
Be Empathetic To Your Coworkers
If there was a time to be good f*cking coworker, this is it. Everyone deals with stress and anxiety differently, and this is a highly stressful time. There also tons of different work from home situations that make things even stressful, like parents who are now home with their children, someone who lives alone and is struggling, or those people who now find themselves trying to have a conference call at the same time as their S.O. Now more than ever, you don’t know what people are dealing with, so before you send that aggressive Slack, think for an extra second.
Encourage Non-Working Ways Of Staying Connected
If you’re lucky enough to consider (some of) your coworkers your friends, that means you just went from seeing them all day every day to literally not at all. In the time of WFH, not everything has to be strictly business—get a virtual happy hour going through programs like Airtime, Zoom, or House Party, because let’s be real, you’re all looking for an excuse to start drinking at 4:30pm anyway.
Conduct Business As Usual
Don’t operate under the assumption that projects or conversations can wait until you’re back at work, since we legit have no idea when that will be. You don’t want to be the one person slacking off only to realize your entire team is operating status quo. Stay on top of your sh*t, create and maintain deadlines, and keep projects flowing. Despite this being a beyond hectic time, business as usual must continue to keep operations carrying on as seamlessly as possible.
Create Structure Around Your Day
If you used to work out before work, keep it up. If you used to work out after work, don’t stop just because you’ve spent all day inside. We all know it’s a hell of lot less motivating working out in the same space you’re spending all of your time in, so encourage yourself by taking an at-home workout class. We put together a list of 16 fitness apps and studios that are offering their home workout services online for free—check them out here. You’re welcome.
Take A Damn Shower & Change Out Of Your Pajamas
We’re not saying to take this as far as wearing jeans, but take a shower and put on some real clothes (and by real clothes we mean leggings and maybe a bra). We’ll take whatever hack we can to stay focused and feel like a real person during this extended WFH period and we guarantee the better you feel, the better you’re going to do at your job.
Images: Sincerely Media / Unsplash; @betches (2), @fatcarriebradshaw, @sarafcarter / Instagram