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Posts Tagged ‘working from home’

Hello, friends. It’s Monday again and I’m back at the computer with a mug of Earl Grey at my elbow, watching the fog drift over Boston Harbor and pegging away at the job hunt. There are a few postings today that look appealing, so I’m making a list and diving in, while pausing to acknowledge the Groundhog Day quality of this whole enterprise – namely, search-draft-apply-rinse-repeat.

I keep thinking of that old saw about the definition of insanity. I don’t know if Einstein actually said it or not, but it seems clear to me that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a recipe for at least feeling crazy.

Why should I apply to this job or that job, if the same set of actions last week garnered a rejection or (more) radio silence? What makes me think this college or nonprofit will answer my email, or call me for an interview, when most of the others have not? How do I know which job description, full of industry jargon and careful HR-approved wording, might possibly lead me to a real place with real people where I can be useful, be welcomed, make a contribution (and earn a living)?

I don’t, of course. And while it’s true that getting creative with the job hunt – going to webinars, letting friends and former colleagues know I’m looking, even writing a whole blog series about job hunting – might help, it’s also true that, for many jobs, a resume and cover letter are required. You have to go through the process: find the posting (or look at the one someone sends you), decide whether it sounds interesting, write and proofread a cover letter, go through the electronic steps to apply. You have to sit through the auto-response emails and the waiting (more on that in a later post). You have to, in short, do a version of the same thing, and expect – or at least hope for – different results.

I don’t have a neat and tidy answer for this one, except that it’s got to be done. Grit and gumption (and lots of tea) are definitely required. And for now, I’ll try to vary the process (and my cover letters) enough so that it doesn’t feel exactly the same every day.

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Since we all began staying home in mid-March, I have spent a lot (a lot) of time working on my laptop in my apartment. At first I was sitting at my kitchen table, but my IT band started to protest after a few weeks of that. So I made a makeshift standing desk (using stacks of books, naturally), and put a cushion on the kitchen chair where I often sit. Simply shifting positions more often, and using that standing setup, has made a huge difference (in addition to buying a foam roller).

Recently, though, I’ve been adopting a third writing position, a rather unexpected one: sitting on my kitchen floor with my back against the cabinets. It gives me a chance to stretch out my legs, and I like the shift in (literal) perspective it provides. (Also, I can’t sit here for too long without needing to stretch or hop up and grab something – which helps with flexibility.)

My favorite part, though: the afternoon light, which floods in through the window by the sink, filtering through my geraniums and warming my face and shoulders. We are entering the cold season, and the winds off the harbor are already brisk. But basking in the sun when I can – like a cat – helps me get through these chilly days. And I’ve logged more than a few thousand words sitting on my leopard-print kitchen mat, sipping black tea and feeling thankful to be in this place.

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In these strange days of mostly working and interacting from home, I’ve been getting used to lots of Zoom calls.

I expected that, of course: we’ve moved our weekly team meetings online, and we’ve had at least one bigger departmental meeting and tried a couple of virtual happy hours. I’ve interviewed a few students and faculty for stories via Zoom (though sometimes regular old phone calls are easier). I’m also taking Zoom exercise classes regularly, and I’ve used it and other, similar platforms (like FaceTime) to catch up with friends, family, my boss and even my therapist.

Like so much of life under quarantine, it is similar but not the same. I like seeing my colleagues’ and friends’ faces, and it’s been fun to get a peek into everyone’s living spaces (and sometimes wave hello to their children or cats). I’ve been doing most of my calls either from my kitchen table or the bar cart that is serving as my makeshift standing desk. And here’s one thing I didn’t expect: they are exhausting.

There’s a human energy that comes from face-to-face interactions, whether it’s your best friend, the bank teller, or a work acquaintance. It’s really hard to recreate that dynamic over video, not to mention the vagaries of unreliable signals and dropped calls. It’s also hard to feel like I must be extremely focused the whole time – rather than shifting my attention out the window or to my notepad/laptop for a few seconds, the way I would do in a “normal” meeting. After one Zoom call, I’m wiped out; after two, I am done.

I’m grateful for the technology that allows us to connect in different ways, especially now – I’ve loved FaceTiming my friends in England and California, and the family Zoom calls have been sweet and hilarious. But it’s an adjustment, like so many things right now. And I need to go stare out the window (or take a walk) afterwards.

How are you adjusting to this new videoconferencing life?

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It’s official, friends: after six weeks of working at my kitchen table and sitting on a hard wooden chair for six to eight hours a day, my body has had it. 

I started feeling twinges in my IT band earlier this week, quickly followed by serious soreness and tightness a few days later. It freaked me out – because, as y’all know, I love to run, and especially right now, it’s vital for my mental and physical health. I texted a couple of friends in a panic – one a dancer, one a longtime runner. Buy a foam roller, they both urged. Stretch it out. Rest. 

I’m taking their advice (thank goodness for Marathon Sports, my local running store). But I still need help. This wasn’t an issue until it really was, and I don’t want it to either continue or get worse.

This is the current setup: my work laptop, either set flat on the kitchen table or propped on a double stack of books as a makeshift standing desk. It helps to stand sometimes, and moving around when I can is important (plus online yoga). But I can’t type like this all day, and I need all your best work-from-home ergonomic advice. I live in a studio apartment, and I don’t have a “regular” desk or room for much new furniture, so this is going to be a case of working with what I’ve got and getting creative.

How do you avoid tight shoulders, sore tailbones, repetitive stress injuries, etc., when working from home? I’m really asking. And if you’ve got recs for products that work – laptop stands, etc. – let me know. I’m all ears.

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