I've had a rough couple of days this week. It started Sunday night. Between now and then I've had restless nights, fluttering feelings, a bit of lightheadedness, and a variety of other symptoms. By Monday morning I was imagining the worst. My husband worked from home that day just in case I decided to go into the hospital to get checked out.
Thankfully it didn't come to that. I'm mostly better now, although not 100%. I'm still dealing with some issues like exhaustion, where I suddenly need a nap, and they usually last a solid four or five hours. I suspect it's a result of some recent dietary changes (silly me for trying to do something healthier) combined with some meds I'm on to prevent another early pregnancy loss like I talked about in a post several weeks back.
I completely forgot about this medication having an effect on blood sugar, so my dietary changes which eliminated a lot of sugar very suddenly (although that wasn't the direct aim) sent my body into an all-out revolt. Couple that with the fact that I've been working longer hours than usual lately, including some very late nights, and it wasn't a pretty picture as I'm sure you can imagine.
The Problem of Working at Home
This made me realize something important. Despite all of the wonderful things about working from home, it's not perfect. There are issues to contend with, and several revolve around health (it can be too easy to go from bed to your desk and be on your ass all day when you don't have to commute, your fridge is barely a stone's throw away, etc.).
Those things can be dealt with. And you can even find ways to be healthier at home than in an office. But here's the thing I really miss: having people around to tell me when I look like crap and should either leave work or get to a doctor. It can be easier to get lost in our work when we work alone, and sometimes obvious symptoms to someone else can be lost on us.
Just for the record, I did contact my doctor and let her know what was going on. She's having me cut my dosage in half for now to see if there's an improvement. I've also made it a point to get more sleep and reintroduce some of the carbs I cut too much too fast accidentally by keeping fruit available and on my desk at all times. I've also cut back on caffeine so it doesn't elevate my blood pressure or cause any jitters of its own until I'm back on a normal sleep schedule.
Knowing Better Isn't Always Enough
I really do know better than to work insane hours. Without the exhaustion and stress of working so much, I might have avoided most of the scare this week.
I've talked about my normal work schedule here before and why I'm such a supporter of shorter work weeks (and how cutting back from 60+ hour weeks to 28 hours per week over four days actually helped me increase my income and productivity). But lately I haven't been taking my own advice.
It started innocently enough. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. In this case there were problems on the back-end of this site that needed to be dealt with. And I try to take care of those things overnight when there aren't many people trying to access the site.
If it was something that should have taken days, I would have outsourced it. But in this case it would have taken me more time to explain the situation, what changes I'd recently made that resulted in it, and what I wanted to happen than it would have taken for me to simply fix it myself. So I did.
No problem. Except then, after fixing some major compatibility issues between two major plugins used on this site, the second of the two released updates. And bam! More problems. I had backups. No worries there. But the updated versions needed to work. So again I stayed up to work on them and troubleshoot some of the issues visitors were reporting.
By the time everything was settled again, my sleep schedule was shot, and I'd gotten used to working the long hours. So I decided to make the most of them. I'd noticed that when I posted something here late at night, my ad revenue jumped way up (ten times what was normal). So I decided to put those extra late night hours towards a few other posts to run some tests for a week or two.
Dumb move on my part. Looking back, I should have just written them early in the day and published them late.
I'm making some changes again as a result of all of this.
- No more late nights working, whether I can sleep or not (minus the occasional emergency of course).
- I'm going to try to get back on my usual sleep cycle where I'm up at 4:00 am and ready to work by 5:00.
- I'm going to focus on getting posts written earlier in the day even while I test other posting schedules (you'll see mostly afternoon posts over the next week or so).
- After this week, I'm sticking to the new client project schedule I set this year (only working on client projects Monday - Wednesday). If I put any time at all into work over the weekends, it will be solely for my own projects and probably simple things (like reading blogs, responding to comments, etc.), although I might occasionally put extra time into my fiction if inspiration strikes outside of my regular writing schedule.
- I'm going to stick with the healthier dietary changes, but put more effort into tracking so I don't accidentally cut too much of any one thing again.
- I'm going to follow my doc's advice on my meds until we see how that plays out.
- I'm going to break both workouts and meditation up into several short sessions every day to keep me mentally fresh (using my Pomodoro tracker would be a good place to start).
Perhaps most importantly, after I finish a few key projects this week, I'm going to take a week off from client projects. I've already talked it over with regulars and they're very understanding. That's why I'm not sticking with my Monday - Wednesday cycle this week. I'm clearing a few things up in advance. I think I need the mental vacation.
That said, there are some things I also won't be doing, like cutting back on my time here (if anything, I'll probably start devoting even more time to this site and creating new resources for you). And next week I will (I will, I will, I will) finish the first draft of my mystery novel.
I'm looking to strike a new balance between my strict schedule that works very well for me and the fact that sometimes the more creative sides of my work want to dictate their own schedules. With the added emphasis on fiction this year, this is a new issue for me. But in the end, finding balance is really the key to staying in good health while we work from home. And my balance needs to swing towards things other than writing in order for me to get there again.
Of course this is all the plan today. I make no promises about tomorrow.
What about you? Have you faced any health concerns or challenges since beginning to work from home? How do you get around them or deal with them? What have you done to make working from home an even healthier option than a traditional office job?
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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