How to Destress when your Ride Home Becomes a Walk Down the Hallway by Shawna Zuhl

by Mary Faith Nugiel, July, 28 2020

 A year ago, my employer approved for me to work from home one day a week and let me tell you, it was Music to my ears! That’s how I felt when my employer announced that we can now have a “work from home” day.   I get to Just jump out of bed, grab my coffee and get to work….Perfect!  My work from home day worked out great-no interruptions, phones ringing off the wall, etc.  I was able to tackle so many things that I could not get to before due to these types of distractions.  No in person conversations, no catching up on how their meeting was and no being able to see the emotion in their face when they expressed victories from a problem solved or good Board meeting or feeling of defeat when they received a call from an angry resident or Board member or had a less than great Board meeting.  We just talked it out on the phone and moved on with our day.

Most of my work from home days lead straight into dinner time, and right after I did not have to commute and picked up right where I left off after no commute time to worry about, and the next day I could simply pick up right where I left off. I was able to get so much done!  Sure, I missed the direct in person interaction with my co-workers and board members….but it was only one day and we caught up seamlessly when once I was back in the office.  Then COVID came along and that one day a week, turned into five, six, seven and if there was another day in the week, it would be that one too!

Open pools, don’t open pools, do we open amenities or not, is it the same as the pool, is there too much risk, but everyone needs it, what do we do, my board needs answers now, how do we implement all of this, homeowners are stopping me asking continuously asking, they are angry, they want the amenities open, they do not want them open because there is too much risk.  Pacing the hallway, researching guidelines, speaking with attorneys, insurance agents, pool companies, taking the information back to the board, bringing questions back to the attorneys, insurance agents, pools companies, attending webinars, keeping up with governors orders, CDC guidelines…..then….DCA new regulations!  Perfect…repeat…. pacing the hallway, researching guidelines, speaking with attorneys, researching governing documents, revising annual meeting procedures and implementing to ensure compliance, getting to know zoom and other applications to hold meetings….Countless instances of”Bear with me, we are have some technical issues”, “I can’t login with the information you gave me”, “I don’t have a computer”….AHHHHHH! On a typical pre-COVID day I would think, at least I can go talk to one of my co-workers that are going through the same thing and see their emotion matches mine and thank goodness I have my car ride home to decompress before I get home….but instead then, I just turn my chair around …I see my laundry that isn’t done, dishes that are still in the sink, kids and family that have been waiting for my attention.  I realize that I (or instead: I’m faced with the reality that I) can’t go talk to one of my co-workers that are going through the same thing and I don’t have my ride home to decompress before I get home to my family and home related things to take care of.  It’s all there, waiting for me after this long stressful day.  What do I do to not let this day extend into what used to be me/family/home time??!!

If there is anything that I have learned during this entire experience is that there must be a balance.  In speaking to many of my co-workers as well as others in the industry (contractors, attorneys, insurance brokers, etc) is that we all need to find a way to take time for a break-to decompress, so we don’t bring everything home…even though we are already there!  Here are some tips to help keep us “sane” while working from home more often and working through this everchanging crisis….

  • Try to create a separate working space.  When you were working in the office you were able to close the door, get in your car and leave work there until the next day.  Try to do the same at home so you can “leave work” somewhere other than home.
  • Maintain a routine.  As easy as it can be to just roll out of bed and jump in front of the computer, getting your day started as if you were going to the office can help you be more productive and also create another separation from “working from home”.
  • Stay disciplined-your company is gracious enough to allow you to work from home, don’t take advantage of it!  Follow your work schedule as you would with as little home distractions as possible and END your day at some point and switch to home mode.  Don’t mix the two!
  • I read something recently that said, “If you don’t plan a day, it will happen anyway.” Each day is going to happen no matter what, so continue to keep your action lists up to date (as much as they seem to grow by the hour!)  Also make sure you cross them off your list as you complete items.  This will give you a sense of accomplishment and help you continue tackling those tough and/or menial tasks day to day.
  • Keep to your schedule (or adjust If necessary lol).  If you worked out at 6am before and started your workday right after-continue.  This will help you keep your sense of continuity.
  • If you can’t be with your co-workers in person, take advantage of all our industry has to offer such as virtual trivia, setting up zoom calls to just talk and touch base to see how everyone is doing in general.  Many of our co-workers have joined the virtual trivia and have done zoom calls to catch up and see each other.  We need to keep each other motivated and share the fact that we are truly in this all together.

The take away is whether you work from home or have returned to the office, separate work life from home life.  This is probably the most important tip of all.  The only way you can give 100% at work is if you take the time to recharge and regroup.  Spend time with family and friends, decompress, take up or continue to invest in a hobby you are interested in, go for a walk, cook!  The point is, do everything you can to separate work and home and find the balance to do both.


Stay healthy and safe everyone!