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From Coffee Pot to Desk... My New Commute!

Updated: Jun 27

I had worked admin jobs in the city for years. Then, quarantine hit. No one really knew, but I figured it might last only a week or two... or maybe a month. Then, my boss called. He’d lost his office space. I was let go. Nice! A reprieve from the hassle of the daily commute was quite a welcome break. Financially, stress was minimal. I was getting benefits and had savings. I would survive as always.

When the pandemic hit, a peer reminded me that people were still doing business. Deals were still being made. As a veteran of the gig economy, I knew the drill... stay diligent, network, make calls, and keep skills sharp with online tutorials. I had to be prepared for the “new normal."

My efforts paid off. A contact connected me with a woman she’d met at an online seminar... our beloved founder, MerriLyn. After 3 interviews and skills tests, I was invited to join the virtual A4H team. Though happy for the opportunity, I was hesitant. Being used to old-school f2f, how would this virtual work "work"? A friend congratulated me saying “Working virtually was the way of the future." We’ll see. More will be revealed.

Initially, working virtually was a dream. Wake up. Do my morning preparatory moments of solitude. Have my coffee (which, not to start a viral ruckus, has taken to "instant coffee" these days... less mess, but I digress). Breakfast. Then, straight to my computer. And the workday was on.

Yes! No more subway hustle. The "new" commute was straight from coffee to my desk. Nice! There were surprises with this new virtual life. The biggest surprise sneaked up gradually. One day, I noticed one of the buttons on my shirt was becoming a bit, uh, stressed. Was doing its best. But the thread could only do so much. The bulge was real. Then one morning getting dressed, putting my shirt on as usual, and POP! Without notice. Boop, the button fought the good fight. But alas, had lost a losing battle. Uh oh! Didn’t see that coming.

Turns out the benefits of not having to commute, not to mention the freedom to go to the fridge on a whim to grab another sandwich, had taken its toll. It seems that I have to adapt.

Picking up the button from the floor, I realized there was a downside of bypassing the 2+ mile a day of incidental cardio which included up steps, down steps, across platforms, and weaving through crowds in a panic to get to the other end… not to mention the intermittent sprint to catch the arriving crosstown local. Mentally, my stress level was much lower. Physically, my body couldn’t lie. Adjustments would have to be made to stay productive, efficient, and, uh, lean?

Some mornings, I walk a predetermined route in my neighborhood… thanks to Google Maps. Also, throughout the day, I do reps on an aerobic stepper I'd purchased online.

Another quandary, how to get into ‘the zone’ without the buzz of office din?

For that, I’ve turned my Smart TV off from the news and onto YouTube. Did a search for “study music.” Literally, hundreds of selections came up. Choices ranging from New Age “release fear,” “remove blocks,” “attract abundance,” and ‘"focus" music. Sweet! I can be productive AND heal my chakras. Jazz had variations of lounge, slow, and coffeehouse music. The latest favorites are rain and trains. Who knew people post videos of unlimited hours of rain. There were options, such as gentle rain to rainstorm with and without thunder. Also, train videos are helpful. Hours and hours of trains in the distant sounds.

I have found that playing these in the background helps me stay focused and in ‘the zone.'

Working from home was comfortable. Too comfortable. I found I could lose track of time and go on for hours without a break. However, there are hazards of sitting for hours and hours. For that (in addition to the stepper), I purchased a small (folding) desktop table. That way, when I feel cramped up, I can switch it up by working standing up which is much better for circulation. Sometimes, I also find that I think better while standing.

So, what we thought might only be a few weeks... perhaps months... has turned into a year and counting. Adjustments are mandatory to flourish in the virtual world. As in anything, it’s all a process.

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Written by Daniel M. McHenry

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