I’m clocking in on halfway through week 3 of the working from home aka WFH thang and I felt that we’re all probably getting to the point where we could use some inspiration to keep us going. Now that the perks have worn off (Sleep! Not risking my life driving on the beltway! Time to exercise! The Rosé in the fridge- who am I kidding, that will never get old) and we’re still battling some of the growing pains (Unstable Wifi, feedback loops on video conferences, zero in person human interaction), I figured a special post of The 9 to 5 Guide was in order. I’m not going to give you advice on time-blocking, managing online meetings, how to prioritize your to do list, or make the most of your ‘Power Hour’ because a) there are many great resources already on the internet for productivity b) I think we’re all just doing our best. This is more inspiration and ideas I’ve found helpful in adjusting to our Twilight Zone new normal. While I’m in no way Miss Expert at this working at home thing, we’re all in this malarkey together so mi casa es tu casa (metaphorically we’re still social distancing) and my tips are your tips.
Is anyone else over the loungewear thing? Maybe it’s because when I try to work in my comfy clothes my body gets confused and protests. It’s like ‘why are we not relaxing, we are wearing the relaxing clothes, that’s it I’m going on strike’. It’s also possible that I don’t have the right loungewear set, but until Olivia Von Halle decides they want to loan me this gorgeous robe, I’m firmly in the camp of getting dressed for WFH. I love fashion and, in my opinion, there are few better feelings that wearing an outfit you really, really love. Workwear done right makes you feel like you can on the whole damn world and win. Much like the look I shot before all of this turned upside down, a Black Halo green shift dress and Thakoon striped trench. I call it Inspector Gadget meets Meghan Markle (if you haven’t seen the green monochrome ensemble she wore for Commonwealth Day, it’s one of the best sartorial moments of the year). While I don’t expect anyone to be rocking heels from the comfort of their kitchen table, I loved the photos and the outfit too much not to share. It also would make a killer interview outfit if anyone is on the job hunt or has an important meeting coming up. Reminder that you want to be extra polished and expressive since so much of first impressions is appearance and body language which are harder to convey through video. If you’re anything like me, you’re also thinking about all the outfits you want to wear after we get through this. Top of my list: a pastel suit, white sundresses and all the Breton stripes.
Without the water cooler chat and hum of activity at the office, it can feel too quiet. I avoid turning on the TV until the evenings because there’s no better way to suck my productivity down the drain than to surrender to the siren song of Netflix. I’m also currently sharing my working and living space with three other people (we have dueling conference calls) so I tend to plug in with headphones to Spotify. I like their Reading Soundtrack or if I’m in the mood for something modern, Lo-fi Beats. If you want to snoop and see what I’m listening to, here of some playlists I’ve made: Kitchen Tabling, Eclectic Focus (pretending I’m in a movie), and Craving Summer.
I think one of the best ways to motivate yourself when WFH is to surround yourself with bits and bobs that make you happy. Little things that can be the difference between you having a meltdown when the Wifi shuts down ONCE AGAIN, and you taking a deep breath and letting it roll of your back. Here are a few of the tiny joys that are getting me through.
Fresh Flowers- if you don’t have a garden to pick them yourself, why not grab a bouquet next time you go for a supply run? If you want to level up, Urban Stems has a subscription service where you be surprised by bouquets delivered to your door. They also make a wonderful gift for celebrations you can’t do in person because of the stay at home order.
Candles-fill your space with lovely scents and a warm glow, personal favorites include the Fern + Moss Minmalist Candle by Brooklyn Studios, Ambre by Diptyque, No. 83 by Candlefish (Bergamot, Jasmin and Amber), Honeysuckle and Davanna by Jo Malone, Volcano by Capri Blue and the Espresso Boulangerie Candle.
Hair Accessories- all the better to disguise the fact you really should have washed your hair yesterday. Headbands, silk scarves, clips, barretts, velvet scrunchies, the world is your oyster.
Stationary- physically crossing off my to do list and writing out in my planner helps me keep track of the days. Otherwise it’s very easy for them to blend into each other and time loses all meaning. I like Rifle Paper Co for their smaller notebooks. And how lovely are the floral designs?
Cozy Socks/Slippers- I have no idea why but my feet are constantly FREEZING when I WFH. So though I have a nice top/jean combination usually, my feet are always in socks and slippers to stay warm. I love this set from Eberjey and my favorite slippers ever are these classic LL Bean moccasins.
Hand Cream/Moisturizers- we’re all washing our hands and making a point of cleaning down surfaces so it makes sense that our hands would be quite a bit drier than usual. Avoid alligator skin with these dreamy concoctions. A few favorites include Burt’s Bees, L’Occitane en Provence, Darphin, Lano, and if you’re really going big, now might be the time to get the Chanel Crème Main (the egg shape delights me to no end).
It sounds like a paradox but knowing when to relax is actually one of the best ways to help your productivity during the day. Being able to switch off and set boundaries for work is so important to keep a sense of normal life. I like to turn to books, TV and movie after dinner to help me reset.
Books: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, All These Wonders: Stories of Facing the Unknown presented by The Moth, Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, The Art of Forgery, Women in Clothes, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling
TV: The Stranger (Netflix), Brooklyn 99 (Hulu), The Good Place (Netflix), White Collar (Amazon Prime or Hulu), Gray’s Anatomy (Netflix), Orange is the New Black (Netflix), Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), Lovesick (Netflix)
Films: 10 Things I Hate About You, The Mummy (1999), Bridget Jones Diary, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Martian, The Man From Uncle, How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Ocean’s 8, Belle, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Forrest Gump, Freaky Friday, Nottinghill, Lord of the Rings Series
The final tidbit of wisdom to share to help you get through your WFH and social isolating is, whenever I feel a bit down, I watch Ina Garten make a positively giant cosmopolitan. If it’s 5 o’clock (or thereabouts) I would even suggest making one with her. After all, it’s like the Barefoot Contessa herself says, “during a crisis, cocktail hour can really be whenever”!