Reframing Thoughts


Why Time Feels Different

By Trudy Menke 4/27/20

We still have 24 hours in our day, 60 minutes in each hour, but why does it feel so different now? You may be sleeping more or sleeping less, but if you are working from home for the first time, you might be wondering how to deal differently with the demands on your 24 hours.

I've been working from home for probably 2/3 of my week for many years, but taking away that last 1/3 of the time when I was out of the house has been a real adjustment. My husband now works from home too, so thinking about how we feel about our time has helped us appreciate the benefits of this time, while respecting each other's social needs and preferred routines.

Here are 3 main ideas to help you reframe your experience with time when working from home. We are all a product of our schedules and habits, and we might not even realize the reasons behind some of the pressures we feel as our schedules have changed. 

First let's talk about Zoom calls or virtual calls in general. If you are used to meeting with your clients or co-workers in person, you may not realize some of the natural ways you built in a margin that served your mind, body and soul. And you might be missing them a lot right about now.

If you traveled to see clients and peers frequently, or even if you just drove back and forth to work, there was a certain amount of time spent in your car thinking or listening to music or podcasts. It was a natural time and place for you to focus on the upcoming meeting (or day) before it occurred and to debrief it internally afterwards.

When you went to a face-to-face meeting you may have been offered something to drink and also socialized with some people on your way in or out. Guess what? Zoom doesn't offer you a cup of coffee or a glass of water, and it's only governed by your calendar. How much time you allow before the next call is something you schedule, and there's no margin required unless you want there to be. You can find yourself going from one thing to the next, and if you're not careful, you'll hardly grab a breath in between. You can do that for awhile, but not all day every day.

If you went to an office or even a cubicle, you had a sense of being in your workspace. Family members might call or text, but they knew your schedule. Plus you probably wouldn't expect them to physically show up at your office or be within ear shot of your most important calls on a daily basis.

What about now? You finish a phone call or virtual meeting and as soon as you leave the area you designate as your workspace, you're immediately immersed in the tension, chaos or needs of other family members who aren't working on or for the same cause as you. A spouse could be working for another company or managing toddlers, children could be struggling with school work, family members could be watching TV or be right in the middle of a conflict. 

Of course, sometimes these same family members may be trying to get to you first, while you're busy, because they NEED you. They need you to do something for them - and this would seldom happen if you were at your office. If you are interrupted by this a couple times a day, you've lost some significant time and productivity from your "8-hour workday". Should you work a little longer to make up the time? Are you doing enough?

There were little things you used to do that are just impossible to do now, but they were the breaks and rhythm to your day or week. You may have gone out to lunch with friends or just ate in the break room. Maybe you flipped through a magazine over lunch or looked at your phone. 

You stopped to "pick-up" things on the way home. You got a haircut. Maybe you went to the gym, a chiropractor, got a massage or had your nails done. Maybe you picked up dry cleaning. Now, you walk out of your workplace right back into a demanding home environment. These little things you did on automatic didn't require a lot of thought. You didn't think of them as rewards but they were simple things that didn't require a lot of thought. That's why they helped you to recharge!

Now that we have described it, we can work with it. Lots of people work from home and love it, because they enjoy an ability to control so much of their day and spend more fringe time with the people they care about. Plus it's a bonus when the service call you need wants to arrive sometime in a 4-hour window!

Buffers are important. Just 15-30 minutes between calls can be like the drive back to the office. Exercise can replace the morning or evening commute and will help you with energy, focus and stress. Coffee might require a little more attention if you didn't always make it at home before, but lots of other options are available at home too. Juices, teas, and lots of ice can make a big difference and keep things interesting.

Every family member is going to have their own priorities at home. Learn to respect each other's rhythms. Do you prefer to get up early or work late? Do you like to eat lunch alone or is that time to catch up with family? Music or no music? TV in the background? What does a shut door mean? Texting each other first even though you're in the same house can be an option. Patrick Lencioni, in a recent podcast, discussed how he has expanded his productive "workday" to span 10-12 hours so he can take some intentional longer breaks with his family and still achieve his work goals. Sharing the workday and the family needs with a spouse often means each one takes some time being in charge of the family.

Recognize that you and others have their preferences for different times of the day for work, family and social efforts. It won't be the same for everyone, and when you work from home you can really lean into what you like. Success is more about being productive. Check out this link to read about how creative people throughout history spent their time! 

Self-care is still part of working from home, but it might look a little different. It might include taking your dog (or yourself) for a walk or just petting your cat for 15 minutes in the middle of the day. Maybe it's taking the time to eat healthier or partially prep a dinner when you step out of your home office. Listening to your favorite music at any volume you like is an option since if no one else is in your space. Taking a call outdoors means you can add some sunshine to your day.

A recent Gallup Poll states that 41% of people are looking forward to getting back to the office, but 59% are hoping to work remotely as much as possible. Regardless of how you feel about it for yourself, it seems that more and more people will be excited to maximize the benefits of working from home. Make sure you find ways to enjoy your time, however you spend it!


Does your team need focused training to bring them together and improve their ability to work in the new normal? A focus on Leading in Crisis from John Maxwell? Or how to be a more effective Team Member from Patrick Lencioni? How can you create meaningful opportunities for growth when everyone isn't in the same building?

Contact me for fantastic resources that allow you to keep pouring into the growth and development of your team during this time and into the future.

     Trudy Menke                       219-716-2108     

Copyright © 2020 Trudy Menke-Reframing Leadership, All rights reserved.

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