Help me not hate working from home
June 8, 2022 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Like many other office-based workers, I've been working from home since March 2020. Unlike almost everyone, I don't enjoy working from home anymore. Please help me change my mindset from "I *HAVE* to work from home" back to "I *GET* to work from home!"

I live in A Suburb and worked in The City, a short train commute away. I enjoyed my commute because I could read on the train, and walk through The City to my office building. I would walk to the library or around the neighborhood during lunch. I was around many more people. Since working from home my world has become pretty damn small.

Here at home, I have everything I would need to do my job efficiently and comfortably. But the only benefits I enjoy about working from home are my lunchtime mental health walk with my dog, the ability to open windows, and the occasional midday shower. I would work in my backyard, but the laptop screen is very glassy and all I can see is my own ugly mug reflected back at me.

What was once the convenience of keeping up with chores during the day has turned into feeling like every time I get up from my desk I become housekeeping. The lack of an evening commute means I get up from my desk and immediately launch into a chore. I used to enjoy playing video games on my PC, but since I spend 8 hours at my desk the last thing I want to do is sit there more after dinner. Because I bum around the house all day, I am not tired at bedtime.

For a while I was taking my laptop to the library, but since January I've been receiving more phone calls and it would be disruptive to others. One day a week I go into the office just to get out of the house (and have sushi for lunch). There are maybe 1 or 2 people there, but going back to the office every day is stupid and expensive if I'm alone most of the time anyway. That era is over and it's never going to be like it was. There are no plans to return to 4 days a week in-office. The only thing I can change is me.

I understand I am whining about something people would love to do in a home that people would love to own. I have watched a hundred tiktoks and read a hundred thinkpieces in favor of working from home. If working remotely works for you than I hope you have the opportunity to work from home as long as you want to.

How can I get back to the mindset I had from 2017-2019 when working from home was great? How do I enjoy this embarrassment of riches again?

PS: I do not want to quit my job for an in-person one - I like what I do, who I do it for, and who we serve.
posted by kimberussell to Work & Money (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
going back to the office every day is stupid and expensive

Is there a happy medium here, even without your colleagues around? Seems to me going to your office and having a nice sushi lunch feels good to you. It's not "stupid" at all to do something that improves your mental functioning! I can't speak to the expense, not knowing what it is, but again, if it helps it could well be worth it.

Maybe bump office days up to 2-3 days a week and see if that helps?
posted by humbug at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2022 [14 favorites]

laptop screen is very glassy and all I can see is my own ugly mug reflected back at me

A co-worker set up a box as a roof over their laptop to reduce glare.

Because I bum around the house all day, I am not tired at bedtime.

When I end work, I do a youtube workout. Since you don't like facing a screen all day, maybe there is other exercise you can do right after work so that you have a mental hard break to the day.

There are maybe 1 or 2 people there, but going back to the office every day is stupid and expensive if I'm alone most of the time anyway.

Do you have co-workers that you like and can coordinate "office days" together so you have lunch together?
posted by saturdaymornings at 8:08 AM on June 8, 2022 [7 favorites]

The only thing on your list of good things from the Before Times that you can't get now from going into the office is being around lots of people *in* the office. Are you allowed to go in more than once a week? If so, how about working from the office for the whole of every other week? You could lengthen those days in order to spend extra time after work walking around the city, soaking up as much of the atmosphere as you can and feeling more like a part of society. Then in your week at home, you can enjoy the contrast of a less hectic environment, and really feel the benefits of being there, the way you did at the beginning.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:08 AM on June 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

Do you have co-workers that you like and can coordinate "office days" together so you have lunch together?

That was my idea, too. Who's still coming in to the office regularly and do you like any of them? If so, can you schedule a weekly thing in addition to your regular at-work day where you go in for an hour or two before lunch and do some stuff that's easier to do at the office and then eat the sushi with the coworker(s) and talk work crap as in days of yore? Or take a walk together and talk work crap?
posted by Don Pepino at 8:13 AM on June 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

I honestly think WFH is very mentally unhealthy for a lot of people, especially if you live alone (which seems to be your situation, not sure). What about getting a roommate? What about a community volunteering gig that allows you to interact in person after work? What about ... moving from Suburb to City? I think I would go absolutely batty if I didn't have some urban interest and see neighbors out and about every day.
posted by haptic_avenger at 8:14 AM on June 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm sort of the opposite in that when I began working from home I hated it but I grew to love it. A few things that helped me:

Have a separate space that you primarily use for work. I realize this is a luxury but it was the number one thing that helped me. The first few months of WFH I was in the living room with a laptop. My family would walk by and interrupt and it was just awful and distracting. Eventually I cleaned out my kid's no-longer-used playroom and set up an office. I have a computer in there that I mostly only use for work. When I'm done working if I want to use a screen I use a laptop in the living room.

Have some sort of ritual at the end of the day to help with the transition from work life to home life. This used to be my train commute. I would read or play games on my phone and then when I got off the train in my town work was back in the city. Now, work is always 15 steps away. In the winter I make myself a cup of tea at the end of the day and in the summer I have a glass of lemonade. This is just a little symbolic way for me to signal that I'm done with work for the day.

If you had coworkers you enjoy, invite them over for a cookout or do semi-regular Zoom lunches. We did this for a while but they seemed to have trailed off. Still, we've done a couple of cookouts and it's been fun.

Have some sort of non-screen activity to do during, before, or after lunch. Every day at lunch I come down into the kitchen and do whatever dishes are in the sink. This is an activity that is unlike anything I do at work. It helps me to remember that work isn't a constant thing but something I can get away from.

Treat yo' self. Take baths at night. Make a nice dinner. Order delivery for lunch.

If you have some work downtime, take a nap, a walk, or watch a half hour show. Walk around your yard barefoot. Nobody will ever know but you.

Birdfeeders! Set up bird feeders around your yard where you can see them while you work. Birds are generally less annoying than coworkers. 'cept grackles. Fuck those guys.

Same with a fish tank. I set one up shortly after I set up my home office and I can look over at them any time I want.

Take Twitter breaks and read all the dumb things your favorite Twitter pal said today.

Good luck. This new normal is very strange and it's going to take us a long, long time to figure it out.
posted by bondcliff at 8:16 AM on June 8, 2022 [9 favorites]

Is there a third option that's neither home or office? I know the calls limit this somewhat but a few thoughts:

- A park with some shaded space, a gazebo, etc. where you could work outside without the glare but still be around people and the outdoors
- Invest in something to make your own backyard friendlier for work - a patio umbrella and stand? Some kind of anti-glare screen protector?
- Renting a coworking space where calls would be expected and reasonable?
- Scheduling one day a week as a no-calls day, or even a half-day if a full day isn't feasible, where you could go to the coffee shop or library?
- Do you have other local friends who feel similarly to you who might be down for one day a week or even one day a month where you get together at one of your homes and work on your own things, but together, and with some downtime for chatting?
- the reverse commute where you leave your house after work and the reading you would have done on the train, you instead take to a nice local spot and spend some time unwinding there?
posted by Stacey at 8:25 AM on June 8, 2022 [9 favorites]

I can relate, I love many things about WFH, specifically that I get to sleep more than if I had to travel as much as pre-pandemic. But I also live alone and it certainly has its challenges and can become very tedious. I was definitely over it running up to xmas last year. A few thoughts then:

Figure out if you can reach agreement with certain team members when you'll be in the office and see how that goes.

Find a hobby that requires in person interaction with people and ideally one where you have to meet every week.

Go to a coffee shop for your morning coffee or afternoon coffee and do the reading you did on the train there.

See how far that gets you in expanding your world again. If that's not enough, research co-working spaces in your city and see if you can't find one in a location you enjoy and work there for a day or two a week. Try to make it the same days every week. I bet you'd become a 'regular' and make a few connections there. I suggest this last because it'd cost money.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:30 AM on June 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

I love working from home so I made a list of reasons why:
1. Pooping in private. I can't go back to pooping next to my coworkers again. See also: menstruation.
2. I do all my chores on Saturday or Sunday so I can relax after work.
3. I would suggest carving some time on the weekend for your computer gaming?
4. Early-morning meetings always made commuting extra challenging. Now I don't have to decline meetings for being too early.
5. Easier to accommodate service people coming to my house, doctor appointments, deliveries, etc.
6. Now I don't lose a whole day when I'm not feeling well enough to go in but still well enough to get work done
7. I have lost weight since working from home because I'm not eating the gross, overpriced cafeteria food & im not stopping for my emotional support Starbucks or McDonald's every day.
8. There's (at least one) deadly, disabling virus going around. If you look at the CDC's transmission map you'll see a large majority of counties are experiencing high transmission right now. No thanks! Do not want!
9. I also appreciate spending way less time in transit. Less $$ on gas, tolls, maintenance, train fares, etc.
10. Easier to stay organized and on top of my work because I don't have to pack everything up every day.
I could go on and on.
posted by bleep at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2022 [13 favorites]

I don't know what exactly you do, but... is there anything where some synchronous telepresence would be reasonable? Like, the co-authored pieces I've worked on in the last couple-three years might well not have gotten done without "Zoom accountability hours" where co-author(s) and I set apart an hour just to hang on Zoom while getting some writing or editing done. Some chat to start, the occasional question during... but it was enough to fool my primate brain into being happy at interacting with people.
posted by humbug at 8:35 AM on June 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi.

I've been working from home for most of my professional life. for the last decade or so, I've also lived alone. I'm also an unabashed extrovert whose stated favorite thing in the world is hosting parties. I love being in large crowds of people. It relaxes me. I'm also a talker. And I love collaborative projects.

How have I managed this? Well, my job does require travel. About once a month in before times I'd go to the office (or elsewhere if needed) for a few days a month. I went to client events, shoots, etc. And also, for many (like thirteen) years in before times, I had a second "fun" job at a record store a couple nights a week, where I got to hang out and talk to customers and friends about music and be in the middle of a lively street. I'm also (see above) pretty unabashedly social. I go to parties. I have people over. I volunteer. I travel with friends. I go to shows, etc. etc. Doing that , in pre-Covid times, required a fair amount of planning and energy, but I loved it and it kept me sane, so I didn't mind.

I have had a crushingly hard time since lockdown, not because of the working from home (that hasn't changed, just more Zooms, few conference calls, and there are plusses and negatives there), but because everything else, all the things that made my life honestly worth living got canceled for a while. I want to tell you that I got used to it, but the truer statement is, I endured it--I know I can endure it--but I will still 100% acknowledge that it sucked.

What I would say, in the way of advice, is to find ways to replicate the enjoyment of a reading commute, a lunch cultural experience, the business of just being around people, and build them into your at home schedule. I shower and get dressed every week day (even if it's just in clean gym clothes) before I sit down at my desk. I create routines that mimic "going to work." I give myself an actual lunch break--sometimes out, at a restaurant, with friends And I do my absolute dead level best to leave off housework during the day. So when I'm done for the day, it feels like I'm done for the day. I have friends over. I go out. We do "happy hour." I do a thing one enjoy that is not physically inside my house (even if it's technically just on the deck). I wind down off the clock. I go to bed, increasingly, feeling like a human being that exists in the world.
posted by thivaia at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2022 [9 favorites]

Here are a few random ideas:

- Can you afford a second computer? I have "my" fancy new work Macbook (which really belongs to my company) and my very old personal one. As silly as it may seem, the process of closing down my work machine at 5pm and not going near it until the next work day does wonders for my mental health. And my personal machine (for games, browsing the web, etc) has none of my work shit on it, including no way for work people to PM me. I also go to another room and use my personal computer during lunch breaks. And even though both machines are laptops, my work one never leaves my work desk.

As others have suggested, see if you can create a work-only space in your home. I now have enough room for a separate office in my house, but when I lived in a one-room apartment, I had a work corner. And if I needed a surface to say, wrap a present on, I did it somewhere else. It was a commandment from God that the work corner was only for work.

- Here's an off-the-wall suggestion: Buy a therapy light. I started to notice that I was having sleep issues and some rainy-day depression, so I bought one of those sunlight-simulation lamps, and I sit under it every morning for half an hour. It feels justified, because it's for my health, but it's also "commute" time, meaning that I'm forced to just sit in a chair. It's okay for me to read or play online scrabble, because I really can't do chores.

You may not need a therapy light (truth is, I'm not sure I do any more), but it won't hurt (except maybe your pocketbook--though they're not that expensive), but I think a lot of us remote folks could benefit from them. We tend to not get out in the Sun as much as we did when we had commutes to work.

- Can you spend some of the time working from coffee shops or collaborative spaces?

- Can you gamify not-doing-chores? Maybe make a little spreadsheet or some other score-keeping mechanism with five cells to color (checkboxes to check, etc.) each day for 15-minute breaks in which you're not allowed to do chores? How long of a streak can you keep up? If you want to spice it up, make each no-chore break a specific type, e.g. (1) walk around the block, (2) read, (3) Wordle, (4) meditate, (5) dance. Or whatever makes sense for you.

- And I agree with others that you'll simply have to be proactive about socializing. It's very important that you do this, so do it. I have a couple of friends with whom I do zoom meditation sessions every day. Could you do something like this? It doesn't have to be about meditating. I'm sure you'd rather meet people in person than virtually, but virtually is not nothing. For a cutting-edge solution, you might look into getting a VR headset, which can add a physical dimension to hangouts and which as the added benefit of seemingly getting you out of the house.

I'm hoping that with this societal shift towards remote work, we find new tools and behaviors to deal with the very, very common challenges you're facing. I'm a member of a Facebook community group, and I thought about posting "Hey! Everybody who works from home: let's all run outside at 1pm every day and hang out for ten minutes!"
posted by grumblebee at 8:45 AM on June 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

Chiming in to say that I feel you--I'm introverted and enjoy my alone time, but sometimes I miss having structure to the day, people to interact with on an acquaintance-level basis, and even just people watching. I have a job that's very easy to do from home, but it's just me and a bunch of very addictive screens, and it's not great. I suspect that a lot of people feel the same way.

Volunteering in person during the tail end of COVID really helped improve my mood because it was face to face. If someone was frustrated, they frowned, if they were happy, they smiled. Just having that level of human interaction and reaction was great. You might get the same value out of it. Now that things are more open, structuring your life as if you have office hours might help, too--happy hours, a set gym time, clubs, classes, etc.

(also retraining for a job that isn't just screens might be nice... maybe that's just me, though)
posted by kingdead at 8:51 AM on June 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I absolutely hated working from home, until I just . . . started loving it. Now I don't ever want to go back. Here is why I love it, plus some suggestions that might help.

1) I do not have to be 'On' all day. I can just exist without having to be in a room with other people, so if I want to make a million cups of coffee or zone out a little no one cares. Some days are better than others, and being at home removes the necessity to pretend. It's so much less emotionally and physically taxing this way.

2) I can take breaks that aren't drinking coffee or sort of "doing nothing." My craft room is the same as my office, so if I need a brain break I can get up and pin something or sew a seam or prep a little on a project. It's satisfying and it gives my brain a thing to do that is different from work, so I can come back after fifteen minutes and actually accomplish work tasks/answer the question I was having trouble with/etc.

3) Costs are so much less. No gas, I am eating at-home food, I am not getting coffee out. It really does make a difference not spending money on these things.

4) MUSIC, blessed MUSIC. I can listen to whatever I want and no one cares. I don't have to endure other people's opinions or taste. If I want to listen to Hamilton on repeat because it's smooth brain music, I won't be teased and I don't have to wear headphones.

5) Similarly if I want to put on some kind of comfort TV in the background, it's not a problem. If I want to listen to Father Brown solve mysteries all day no one can stop me and it doesn't interfere with my work at all.

Now, recommendations:

1) Get or borrow a pet, if that kind of thing appeals to you. Having a dog definitely puts some structure into your day and you can take the pupper to a dog park, you can add a lunchtime walk routine. If you prefer a cat, you can start your day with pets and snuggles and feeding time, have lunchtime play routines. Animals are amazing for making you get out of your head.

2) Establish some kind of hobby or interest that is not screen-adjacent. Engaging the part of your brain that does sewing, for example, for me, is refreshing after a long day of Typing Up All The Thoughts and Solving All the Problems and Speaking With the People. Strength training helps with this, too, it's just a very different modality of being in the world than when I Do My Job.

3) Finally, if you really prefer the city, prioritize some way to move there. Otherwise, find some way to engaged with your local suburban community. I KNOW I just moved to the burbs, it can be hard. I'm not totally loving it. But it's the right place for a lot of reasons and I'm joining the HOA, I'm plugging into community events (and attending, and some of them are after work on week days).
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:51 AM on June 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: As a long-term WFH-er, I fully grok how the stuff that initially seems special or luxurious about it just Personally, unless I have some real emergency shit going on, I do NOT try to do chores or cooking or anything during work hours. Work is work. Home is home. Even if those distinctions are solely psychological and not physical at all. I also found that when I just have long open evenings, I fill them with screens and other mentally unhealthy shit--it's much better for me to have structure on worknights. The loafing (or in your case, gaming) is for weekends.

If the problem is that your world has become small, then it is time to discover ways of opening up your world that aren't work. A lot of the stuff that would occur to me is urban-based, so I don't really have a ton of specific suggestions, but basically...find a place that you go after work, where you don't stare at a screen, and you are around people.

For me, it was joining a gym and developing a routine where I walk to the gym (all weather), and then stop at the store for fresh groceries, and then walk home. By then, the work day has been utterly shaken off, I'm not grumpy from screens, I have something healthy to eat, and my job feels miles away. I do the chores that need doing (because I didn't do them while I was working), take a shower, watch 1 tv show, and then I'm usually pretty exhausted for bed.

Now, admittedly, I am not nearly as covid-cautious as probably most of Metafilter, so ymmv on gyms and being out in the world, but basically, like thivaia, I was...dying. As soon as things opened, I was at them, hell or high water. (Of course, I have every conceivable vaccine and also always wear masks, though.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:51 AM on June 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

You need a transition activity between work and home life in the evening. My husband works from home and taking the dogs for the walk is his daily evening commute. He listens to a pod cast and stretches his legs. Sometimes if it's been a bad day he rides his exercise bike as well, just anything to get his body moving and his mind out of work mode so he can switch to being "at home" mode. You could, also do a exercise of another sort in there some yoga or stretches, while listening to some music or an audiobook.

Also go out for lunches or have special lunches to eat at home. My husband and I are heading off to a local food truck event for lunch today. Every friday is Takeaway lunch day. We also have more after work activities we do with groups of people than we did when he worked from an office. Go to the local coffee shop. Get an anti glare film for your laptop or you can buy sunshades for them, or sit in a shady spot, spoil yourself and buy an umbrellas to sit under? I have a swing seat with a shade over I love to sit on with my laptop, the shade helps with glare.

Get up the time you used to get up for your commute and make it you time. Have a nice coffee, sit and read your book, do some journaling, sit and stare out the window and listen to music. This is your "commute time", just because you can get up last minute doesn't mean you have to.

Keep work work and home home and allow yourself some "You" space between the two.
posted by wwax at 8:59 AM on June 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

I have this same problem only no office to go in to at all because I work for a client in a different country and there are literally no affordable co-working spaces in my town. I think the idea of creating a "commute" for yourself in the morning and once work is over is wonderful and I plan to steal it.

Having a separate space for work, however small, has been key to my sanity. Also, I broke down and got a monthly subscription to Focusmate (its five bucks in the US) so I could make myself work. I don't get to chat much with my work buddy, but it helps me focus and concentrate of work I don't want to do, which appears to be most of it (thanks again, ADHD, the gift that keeps on giving).

As a gregarious introvert who lives alone, I absolutely need to go see folks in person. I don't really know anyone but I make a point of using a cashier when I buy groceries instead of the self-check-out line, for example, because I genuinely need that tiny bit of human interaction. I absolutely chat with cashiers and helps keep me sane.

For many of us, working at home sucks. I see you, I feel you, and I hope you can get what you need to make it work better.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:29 AM on June 8, 2022 [4 favorites]

A thought: summertime is upon us. You presumably don't have to put on hot gross full office gear when you're WFH.
posted by praemunire at 9:30 AM on June 8, 2022

1. You are not ugly.

2. I hope you don't mind me crossing the streams, but since you link your Instagram in your profile I don't think I am revealing anything you haven't revealed there. Does any of this have anything to do with your newest roommate? Are you truly alone during the day or is having an "adult" around make you think that you are being supervised?

3. I feel very guilty when I am not being productive. It sounds like the lack of commute may make you think you need to be more productive since you are home. Set aside that morning "commute time" for reading a book or doing something that you would normally have done during your commute. Do it only from when you would have left the house to when you would arrive at work. In the evening do something similar to "unwind" from your work day during your evening commute time. Play a video game.

When I worked in an office, I would often take lunch at my desk and read articles -- metafilter and otherwise. If anyone stopped by they eventually knew to treat it as if I was out to lunch. I would close my door. I would put a sign up. "Pretend you came to see me and I was not here because I was at lunch."

4. Set boundaries with yourself and your housemates. If you would be commuting let them know these are times when you wish to not be disturbed.

5. Perhaps use that commute time to do something outside of the home? Take a walk. Take the dog for a walk. You love gardening, use that time exclusively for gardening. You love blogging, set aside time to blog. Add these things to your calendar and mark them as "busy."

6. If there is anything close by that is walkable (library, dog park, etc) use that commute time to enjoy those things.

I am recently retired in that I haven't been able to find a job outside the home since being laid off during the pandemic. It has been HARD. And I live in a very rural area. I can't walk to any thing. I have embraced my role as house spouse, but I also have been scheduling time to do things -- blogging, gardening, yard chores, dog walks, house redecorating, etc. It isn't nearly perfect, but it has helped a bit.

Good luck. Stay strong!
posted by terrapin at 9:51 AM on June 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Coming at this from another angle - is Suburb meeting your needs now that you work from home? It sounds like you like the infrastructure and amenities of the city; maybe consider moving to the city or to a different neighborhood that has a library, sushi restaurant, etc within walking distance.
posted by ohneat at 9:54 AM on June 8, 2022

Oh yeah I also meant, in my comment, to suggest relocating to a more urban area if that's possible. (I know for a lot of situations it is NOT, because the city is so exponentially more expensive than its surrounds, but like for instance in my location that would not really be the case.) At the moment I'm WFH in the suburbs and am absolutely ready to murder the ENTIRE PLANET from boredom and sedentary-ness, and I cannot WAIT to get the fuck back to my home in the city. It is so very hard to go anywhere or do anything in the suburbs.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2022

How can I get back to the mindset I had from 2017-2019 when working from home was great?

Well, why was WFH so great for you then? What has changed? Presumably it's the chores and stuff, and/or the sameness. You can always take a page from my book and just not do chores haha. That's not entirely true. I fold laundry or take out the trash occasionally. But I try not to do it too often. I'm at work, man. My company isn't paying me to fold my laundry. (They're not paying me to write comments here either, but hey.)

One of the things that really predisposed me to like WFH is working for a company a few years ago that really really hated WFH. Even though we could do the job completely remotely (and the owner's niece did), they'd make you sign your name in blood if you asked to work a day from home, because they assumed you weren't going to work and would spend the day like, folding laundry or taking out trash instead of actually working. So on the few chances I got to WFH, I would go really hard to prove to them how I could handle it. And it worked. One time, the aforementioned owner's niece sent me a screenshot of an IM our manager had sent her saying something to the effect of "wow, Kevin is really killing it today". I eventually got to WFH for weeks at a time after my first kid was born, but they had instilled the mindset that WFH is as much about the W as it is about the H.

The sameness is tricky; I feel that, too. But it doesn't have to be the same every day. You're already going into the office or to the library. You can also travel. You have a lot more flexibility WFH than you do in-office. And trust me, if you were obligated to be in the office four days a week, you'd pretty quickly feel that lack of flexibility.

I'm not a particularly financial-minded person, but thinking about the theoretical money I save by WFH is pretty eye-opening. I had an hour commute each way - assuming an eight-hour workday, that's 25% less time away from what I'd rather be doing, for the same money. Essentially a 20% raise, and that's before you take into account the savings on gas (easily $60/week these days), wear and tear on your car, train tickets in your case, etc. If I were to be offered a new job that required me to be in the office, they'd have to come in at a much higher salary than I currently have. And if doing chores is overwhelming you, maybe take some of that pseudosurplus and put it toward a housekeeper/cleaning person?

I'm an introvert, so I don't have much to offer in terms of other people.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:18 AM on June 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Do you have to be available for the entire traditional working day? Could you take a couple hours and go for an extended outdoor break? Take a walk? Ride your bike? Meditate? Garden?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:43 PM on June 8, 2022

Maybe going back to the office is "stupid and expensive" for other people but if it helps YOU, maybe it's worth spending money on? If there are usually a few people in the office, can you get to know them better and maybe have lunch or socialize more with them when you're in the office? And are you prevented from going in more often than you do now, or are you just not going in because of the cost/lack of people there? There might be others like you who would rather be back in the office more often but don't go for the same reasons you don't go. Be the change you want to see in the world and maybe others will follow!
posted by jabes at 12:51 PM on June 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

WFH is a mixed bag for me. I enjoy WFH, not having the commute, saving the money and time, etc. I miss my workmates, I miss the downtown I used to work in as it used to be (downtown Seattle has not been made better by the pandemic).

But while I have a separate workspace (and a work-provided computer), my chair isn't that comfortable. So by the end of the day, I'm ready to shut things down, go down to the living room, and stretch out on the floor to read, which is what I did on the bus every night (well, except for the stretching out on the floor part). On nights I don't do that, it's because I need to go do a little grocery shopping, so I still have a good break between work and having to do anything.

So my primary suggestion is to not get up and do chores. Do something else. Something fun, something that provides a reset between the workday and home time.
posted by lhauser at 1:07 PM on June 8, 2022

One thing that has helped me as a long time work from home person is changing to a standing desk setup. I’m now on my feet all day - and by the end of the day finding some other spot where I can sit down does give me a “work’s over” feeling. And I also highly recommend dedicated office space. Mine is also the guest room but we rarely have those, so the pullout couch just holds the cat most days.
posted by hilaryjade at 1:48 PM on June 8, 2022

Response by poster: You are all lovely people!

The question was already too long so I left out:

> I have a home office with a bunch of neat peripherals due to my sordid video gaming past. And my own PC.

> I live with my husband, my Mother In Law, and our dog. MIL and I get along and she mostly keeps to herself and her hobbies upstairs. Misterussell and I worked together from home for over a year, and now when he comes home it takes everything I have not to bombard him with “HI! HI! TALK TO ME! HOW IS IT IN THE OUT THERE?”

And what I’m getting from these awesome responses so far is that I need to do more in my non work hours to delineate them from my working hours. Maybe I could return to yoga classes. I’m also going to see if anyone else at work wants to come in at the same time. Our company Teams isn’t used for anything other than “did you get my email?”inquiries but I’ll try and find a way.

Thank you for your kindness and please keep answering. I thought I was the only one.
posted by kimberussell at 4:34 PM on June 8, 2022 [2 favorites]

Dearest OP, whatever the issue may be you will never ever be the only one. It just feels that way. Thanks for asking so all of the rest of us got to know that we weren’t alone either!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:08 AM on June 9, 2022 [4 favorites]

Go back to "commuting", take a morning and evening walk, even if it is short. It has really helped me with the transition to and from work-mode. And yeah, I don't really do chores during the day, other than putting my coffee cup in the dishwasher because I'd do that at work too.

Basically work time is still work time, home time is still home time.
posted by magnetsphere at 6:30 AM on June 9, 2022

(Also, please remember: Work sucks! Capitalism sucks! Being an adult under the best of circumstances is basically being king of suck balls mountain. It's okay not to be totally stoked about everything all the time. Nobody is. This is trash!)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:53 AM on June 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hello, friends! We're about two months past my question and I wanted to let you know about the changes I've been making.

I joined a gym last month. I'm still in the honeymoon period where I'm trying out machines and visiting classes to see if they're for me. I'm not looking to lose weight or become ripped, but I do want to add activity to replace the train station stairs/walking across The City activity that I lost. And once I figure out which classes I want (looking at yoga and probably some water aerobics) I'll have a bit more structure and less isolated time. This supplements the midday dog walk instead of replacing it.

With the exception of laundry Mondays, I've slowed down on indoor chores during the day. I put my fitness tracker back on and when it tells me to stand, I go outside for 5 minutes and pull some weeds, fill the birdfeeders, toss a ball to the dog, etc. Winter activities are TBD.

After work, I go outside for a half hour to read a book. That returns a benefit of my commute without paying to sit on a train.

I applied for a volunteer position to give back to a community I'm fond of. It would also connect me with other like-minded individuals. If that doesn't pan out, I'll volunteer elsewhere.

I started playing music during the day again. I'm not sure why I stopped, but it's back. I'm making a point to listen to new music too, not just the comfortable playlists that mimic my 30yo mixtapes. (Off topic but pop music has been so, so good these last few years.)

Thank you all for the suggestions and understanding. I'm going to mark this as resolved, because these are first steps toward resolving.
posted by kimberussell at 7:29 AM on August 5, 2022 [4 favorites]

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