Working From Bed: A Timeline Of Bliss, Backaches And Finding The Balance
The first five days of working from home, which for me, began a week before the lockdown was announced, were spent compensating for all those endless hours I would daydream about my bed, while sitting in my office cubicle. A combination of yoga pants, untimely showers, and my laptop moving across the length and breadth of the bed along with me, became the source of a deep sense of satisfaction. It was like a dream come true! I was finally living the life of all those digital nomads I follow on Instagram, who would post perfectly photoshopped images of living their best lives. No obligation to clock in a set number of hours. No colleagues you had to pretend to like. No traffic jams. No fighting the afternoon slump. My skin felt especially grateful for not being plastered with make-up. My bras felt neglected, but I told them that this is only increasing their life span. They understood.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when things changed. I don’t think it happened like that, actually. There wasn’t one moment, but rather, a gradual freefall into lethargy and diminished motivation. I had been blankly staring at the laptop screen, thinking about nothing and everything at once, when it first occurred to me that bringing work to bed might not have been the blessing I thought it was, after all. It was past official work hours. We’d had dinner and changed into our pyjamas, so definitely past 9.30. And there I was, feeling like a derelict, staring at my laptop.
Somewhere in the beginning of week two, I began to lose a sense of fixed work hours. Any time of the day, or night, was the right time to work, and any time of the day, or night, was the right time to sleep. I was putting in more hours per day than I would at the office, being only marginally more productive, but feeling as if I wasn’t doing nearly enough. Whereas before, coming home from office would mean that I would not open my laptop screen, to add another column to an excel sheet, or bank a third story for the day, now, with my bed having become my desk, it began to feel like there was never an inappropriate time to work.
It began to eat into my down time, my TV time, my time with my husband, my reading time, and even, my sleep!
Because I would be working till about five minutes before I’d hit the sack, I would fall asleep thinking of work, and then, I would dream about it, and in my sleep - IN MY SLEEP - begin to feel guilty for not working!
But, none of this was enough to make a change because we are trained to ignore our emotions, and even though I pride myself for validating my emotions more than the average Joe, sometimes even I fall short.
Perhaps at the end of week two, or beginning of week three - I can’t tell because, like I said, I have lost all sense of time - I started getting backaches. Even though I have a desk job, which necessitates being hunched over the laptop all the time, I seldom get backaches because I workout regularly. Now, if there’s one thing other than work I was still doing with undivided attention, and without guilt, it was working out. Like a dying tube light that flickers brightly one last time before it fuses, it dawned upon me that the backache came from the abysmal posture one is forced into while working from bed.
I decided to set up a makeshift workstation in our living room, which we are yet to set up. I cleaned up the dining table, put a tiny salt lamp in the centre, aired out the room, placed a coaster that reads, “Et tu…?” and, after an unjustifiably long time, sat on a chair, and began to type.
As if by magic, words flowed with an ease they didn’t have when I tried to write in bed. I could work for longer without losing focus. And most importantly, when I’d finish, I’d finish for the day. One the very first day of setting up my workstation, I decided to leave my laptop there and not bring it back to the bedroom. My husband, and the book on my nightstand, were delighted in equal measure.
The lockdown has taught me two invaluable lessons: One, that I can be super productive from home, something I didn’t think I was cut out for. And two, if one has to successfully and sustainably work from home, it is crucial to find a way to compartmentalise work from your time at home. This, as I have also learnt, may mean getting out of your pyjamas and putting on a proper work outfit, and even some make-up!
My skin isn’t breathing freely anymore. Now, I do my eyebrows, line my eyelids and paint my lips, for the march from my bedroom to the living room. My bras aren’t feeling neglected either. But when, at the end of the day, I finally close my laptop, I don’t feel like I’m shirking my responsibilities.