Note to self: Wake up at around the same time every day. Say a morning offering upon rising. Don’t go straight to your phone or computer. Dress for work, as you would when you had to go to the office. Smile at the child of God in the mirror who has been given another day to know, love and serve him – and your loved ones.
Invest the time you have saved without commuting to reinforce your rule of life: your morning ritual, emphasizing prayer and spiritual reading. Do not begin personal or professional emails until you have completed your devotional time. Listen to the still, small voice of God. Intercede for those entrusted to you. Pray as if your life depended on it. Sing him a new song. Journal … whatever brings you into the zone: the zone of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“Like Saint Joseph in the carpenter’s workshop, take the board you have to work on today and remember that Jesus holds the other end. You are not alone.”
Eat regular, healthy meals. Thank God for your food, even when no one is looking. Do not eat meals at your desk. Practice moderation. Establish a lot of friction between you and junk food. Take care of your own meals like you would take care of your best friend. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Don’t throw it away.
Begin your work in a designated space. Keep your work world and your family world separate. Or try, one hour at a time. Don’t work in your bedroom. Do not work in bed. Don’t forget: your wife and children also need space. Do not work in their space.
Make your work an offering to the Most Holy Trinity. Honor the Lord with your focus. Look at Saint Joseph and ask for his intercession. As banal as your work is, try to approach it like Johann Sebastian Bach, who signed his cantatas SDG (soli Deo gloria, “to God alone be the glory”). Like Saint Joseph in the carpenter’s workshop, take the board you have to work on today and remember that Jesus is holding the other end. You’re not alone. Trust God to provide for you, then do your best. Wind to him. Attribute your victories to him.
When your better half is also working from home, put their needs first. Prepare him lunch. Take a break together. Pray together. Encourage each other. Be a cheerful and patient person, not an asshole. Cherish it and respect it. Don’t ruin his day with your complaining and irritability.
Improve and upgrade your work limits. Use small alarms. Have a transparent schedule so that the family easily understands working and non-working periods. Manage expectations. Purging the system of ambiguity. Tell others exactly when you are available and unavailable. Practice saying no. Remember that saints had limits and you are a saint in the making. Remember that God the Father has limits, and He rested on the Sabbath day: And so must you.
Take breaks. Go for a walk. Pray the Rosary on your walk or call mom and tell her you love her. Be a blessing to someone else. Get out of your head. Step into the wonders of nature, even for a minute.
Lead an active life. Resist the siren call from home office to sedentary life. Occasionally use a standing desk. Exercise at a strategic time of the day that offers you a triple win: for you personally, for your efficiency at work and the cohesion of your family.
Do not make professional communications when you are in a family setting. Put the phone and laptop away. Enter your office’s cone of silence or your virtual phone booth, if you must. Avoid the futile attempt to weave the two worlds together. If you try this, prepare to fail. Don’t be a weaver. Be a man with healthy boundaries who is focused on creating the conditions for your marriage, family, and work to flourish.
Don’t blame yourself. Nobody gets that right very often, especially in a pandemic. Go to confession regularly, schedule a daily Mass nearby at certain times of the week, find your source in the Eucharist. Be a servant.
Finally, remember what a wise friend told you: “For those numbing conference calls or Zoom calls where you don’t have a speaking role, use a good pair of headphones, mute yourself , turn off the video and go pull some weed.”
Johnson and his wife, Ever, are co-founders of trinityhouseCommunity.org.