I’ve been working from home since March 2008, a little over two months after I retired from my corporate job as a Human Resources Officer IV in one of our country’s government financial institutions. But I still remember vividly how I felt, what I did, and how it got me to where I am now — the owner of my own small freelancing / virtual assistance business. Like any employee quitting his/her job, I was, of course, scared… Scared because I was letting go of a job that a million girls my age at that time would probably die for because of how high my income was compared to my peers then. At the age of 24 (since year 2002-2007), I was already taking home a salary equivalent to the income of a manager or vice president. The company I was working for then wasn’t included in the country’s salary standardization law and my salary grade was quite high because my step-grandma was one of the board of trustees and I worked for her as her Executive Assistant V (that’s nepotism in this country which I’m not proud of but grateful for at that time). I was also excited because, for the first time in a long time, I could breathe. That company was laden with politics and being an introvert who preferred working mostly by myself, I didn’t bode well with making chitchat during office hours nor hobnobbing with the higher-ups just because I was the granddaughter of one of the Board of Trustees. I felt like I was surrounded by “plastic” people and I felt suffocated and stressed out most of the time. So it was a breath of fresh air to get out of that situation and take home with me more than a million peso in retirement money. I was lucky!
Nevertheless, I still went through some sort of period of depression for about a month after I retired. I retired effective Dec. 15, 2007 and I was just watching TV series like Dexter and 24 from what I remember that whole time. I kind of felt lost and didn’t know what to do next. I was so used to the hustle and bustle of corporate life then all of a sudden I wasn’t doing anything. So I did what I could… I majored in being a couch potato for about a month, never really sleeping but just watching reruns of TV shows and eating on the couch. I seldom took a bath too during that time, lol! I had a full-time helper under my employ so I could afford to literally do nothing but just be a potato on my couch! Hahaha! After I forced myself out of depression mode (thanks to The Secret which I also read and watched over and over around January 2008), I began to see the light. Someone in my Yahoo groups contacted me to apply as an online executive assistant to a Texas CEO in the US, and the rest, as they say, is history. Here I am twelve years down the line, having had numerous clients from the US, Israel, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, having done all kinds of online work you could think of, including being a ghostwriter who authored an erotic novel (hahaha!) which actually paid for my 2-week Siargao vacation back in March 2012. Those were the days! I’d work online either from home or from anywhere I fancy just because I could.
I’m aware that times now are different. These days, people don’t have this choice to either work in the office or work from home. Many employees now, including high ranking company officials, are being forced to work online from home to avoid getting sick due to the currently incurable Covid-19, formerly known as the Novel Coronavirus. Many even lost their jobs and don’t know where to get their next paycheck to support their families. The economy of 100+ nations all around the world is suffering from this pandemic and companies, big and small, as well as workers of various industries, must learn how to adapt, cope, think outside of the box, and come up with other ways to get the job done to stay afloat amidst this global crisis.
Are you one of those people affected by this? Are you having a hard time transitioning from working in your company’s office premises to now having to work from home with your kids, spouse, maybe even with your parents, siblings, and house help puttering about inside your home while you try to get some work done? Or did you lose your job and don’t know what kind of work you could do next? If you are, I hope my tips below will somehow lighten your struggle and serve as a guide to you in these dark times as I share with you how I did it before and how I continue to do it for more than 12 years now. Just bear with me whenever I make a little side chitchat because I’m just talkative like that. After all, having not seen any “officemates” for more than a decade, and having lived by myself for most of my adult life, writing has become my outlet for all of my stories untold. Hihihi! Here goes…
1. First Things First – Have a Proper Mindset
Anything worth doing, whether it’s hard or easy, needs some mind setting. Know your purpose for doing this. Have a positive mental attitude about it. Know your “WHY”. Generally, it’s pretty much obvious what our “WHY” is — of course we don’t want to get sick with Covid-19 while looking for work, or keeping the job we already have, or while trying to make our business stay afloat and thriving in these trying times. That’s our major why. Another perspective we can imbibe is that It’s also awesome to be able to spend more time with our family while at the same time trying to earn a decent living. No more guilty complexes for being away from our kids (especially if they’re still small) just because we need to work and bring home the proverbial bacon. Once we get a positive outlook about why we need to stay at home and try to work online from home, then everything else becomes much easier.
2. Have Your Own Work Space
No matter how small or big your house is, allot a space that is solely dedicated to doing your work. It could be your library or study room if you already have one at home, or it could be a little corner in your bedroom, in your kitchen, in your living room… whatever works for you as long as you know that when you sit there, all you will do in that space is work. This allows you to create an invisible boundary between your multiple responsibilities as a parent (if with kids), as a spouse (if married or living with a partner), and as a worker.
Below are some of the home office spaces I’ve done through the years. They might inspire you somehow:
In our tiny pad in Cagayan de Oro when we first moved here in 2017:
In our tiny pad in Cagayan de Oro in 2018:
My Current Home Office 2020
My outdoor home office at our farm in Claveria:
My indoor home office at our farmhouse in Claveria:
Another office area in our farmhouse:
I had several work areas when I was still living mostly by myself in My Own House In Manila:
Back in March 2008 when I first became an executive virtual assistant and had my first client who was a CEO of a real estate company in the US:
My various office spaces whenever I’d travel and go to the beach:
I hope my office spaces inspired you somehow to create your own too. ^_^
3. Establish a Routine
This is not for the faint of heart, lol! While establishing a daily routine is really the best, I must say that this does not apply to me at all. This old blog post of mine will help explain it well: https://momtraneur.com/2016/08/09/first-time-moms-daily-routine/ What I do instead is I write down on my notebook everything that I need to get done for the next day, the next week, the current month. I do this before my bedtime (whatever time that may be — my body clock changes every day!) so I am ready to tackle all my important work the next day and the upcoming week head-on.
But if you’re not like me, I say, have some semblance of a routine like you did pre-Covid. Wake up around the same time, do your usual routine, and follow your usual schedule as if you’re still working outside of the house. This may now include setting aside more time with your kids and family since you will no longer waste time driving or commuting to and from work, so that’s an added bonus.
4. Make Sure You Have Some “ME Time”
Because you’re finding yourself in this “new normal”, it might be stressful for you in the beginning. It’s something that you’re not used to and totally outside of your comfort zone. It will help you to allot some time for yourself, to do whatever you want, and make yourself happy. It could be as simple as doing your workout, or reading books you love, or cooking, meditating, playing with musical instruments, watching movies, doing a hobby or two.. whatever fills your cup, energizes you, and makes you motivated to do your work afterward.
5. Have Some FUN Time With Your Family
Life is a gift and must not be spent on purely work alone. We need to have some fun too, especially if the work that you do is not fun for you but you do it because of financial needs. Even if your work is your passion and is truly enjoyable for you, you still need to allot some time for fun with your family. After all, aren’t they the reason why we are working so hard in the first place? And now that you’re home, and working online from home, you can now divert all the other times you spent (driving, going out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, dressing up for work, etc.) to your family! You can play with your kids, date your spouse, spend time with your parents and siblings, the possibilities are endless! Just use your imagination.
Now, review those tips above:
- Have a Proper Mindset
- Have Your Own Work Space
- Establish a Routine
- Make Sure You Have Some ME Time
- Have Some FUN Time With Your Family
I don’t know about you, but for me, after reviewing these life-changing tips I’ve been practicing for more than 12 years now and actually seeing them on print here on my blog, I realize that it’s the perfect life, isn’t it? Well, okay… it was more perfect before because I was also applying these tips when I go on trips around the country and Asia whether by myself, with friends and family, or with Mahal and Tuz (which was one of my major reasons for retiring and working online in the first place). But all things considered, including this pandemic situation we are in, as horrible as it is, it can still be seen as a blessing. We now have the time freedom to be with our family, maximize our energy and resources so we can earn a living even if we’re just at home. Once you perfect this kind of work situation, whether you got laid off and had to find work online, or you were asked to work online from home instead, the possibilities become endless for you.
Like me for instance, I just don’t work from home or work online as a virtual assistant to my foreign clients under my biz, Momtraneur Online Services, I also help manage our mushroom farm and food creations biz, Tuscany Highlands, by supervising mushroom product orders and deliveries, managing our own social media accounts, administering online courses, selling stuff, etc. And I do all of these things online, from home (or wherever I was before Covid came into our lives), while also taking care and independently homeschooling our now 4-year old son. Plus, I get to date Mahal whenever I want by having some beer or wine and some food he cooked or I prepared while watching our fave movies. Life’s perfect the way I see it! And I hope you will see that yours is too.
So have fun and enjoy your work from home situation in these trying times. When Covid ends (and I believe it will, God-willing), you might not want to ever go back to working outside of your house or offline again. But let’s cross that bridge when we get there.
For those looking for online work, try these ones here below from instagram.com/joshdomen. I haven’t tried them all because my current clients, I’ve had them for 4 years to a decade now, and I usually get referrals from them too which I’m grateful for. Just remember that when you open a free account with these sites, you shouldn’t have to pay money. It’s just like Jobstreet. You go to these sites to look for a job.
So, good luck and take care! Let me know how it goes!