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Creating Routines While Working from Home During a Pandemic, with Gloria from MISS FINDEPENDENT

Presented by Willful

Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.

COVID-19 has shaken up millions of Canadians daily routines, many of whom find themselves working from home and having to adjust to weeks and months of self-isolation.

Gloria is my guest this week. She’s a CPA from Toronto with a passion for financial literacy, pastries, and the outdoors. Gloria also recently started a podcast, called Miss FINDEPENDENT, to spread the word about financial independence to other young Canadians.

Like many Canadians, Gloria has been working from home for the past several months. She says that the key to making it work was to create a routine, which includes a daily meditation habit.

Gloria has also spent more time on hobbies you can do while self-isolating, including baking and backcountry camping. Not only are these fun activities, but they’re also affordable.

This episode of The MapleMoney Show is brought to you by Willful: Online Wills Made Easy. Willful’s intuitive online platform means you can create your legal will and Power of Attorney documents from the comfort of home in less than 20 minutes and for a fraction of the price of visiting a lawyer.

As an online entrepreneur, I’m always on the lookout for tools like Willful that can help me save time and money. Get started for free at Willful using promo code MAPLEMONEY to save 15%.

Episode Summary

  • Finding low-cost things to do during COVID
  • The importance of creating a routine
  • Creating a dedicated space for work inside your home
  • Affordable hobbies that are perfect for a quarantine
  • Practice mindfulness to give your mental health a boost
Read transcript

Covid-19 has shaken up millions of Canadians’ daily routines, many of whom find themselves working from home and having to adjust to weeks and months of self-isolation. Glory is my guest this week. She’s a CPA from Toronto with a passion for financial literacy, pastries, and the outdoors. Gloria has recently started a podcast called, Miss Findependent, to spread the word about financial independence to other young Canadians. She joins me to discuss what it’s like working from home during the pandemic and how she’s found affordable things to do.

Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. Did you know that 57 percent of Canadian adults don’t have a will? Willful has made it more affordable, convenient, and easy for Canadians to create a legal will and power of attorney documents online from the comfort of home. In less than 20 minutes, and for a fraction of the price of visiting a lawyer, you can gain peace of mind knowing you have a plan in place to protect your children, pets, and loved ones in the event of an emergency. Get started for free at maplemoney.com/willful and use promo code, Maple Money, to save 15 percent. Now, let’s chat with Gloria…

Tom: Hi, Gloria. Welcome to the Maple Money Show.

Gloria: Hi, Tom, how are you?

Tom: Pretty good. Thanks for being on. You recently started your own podcast (and we’ll get to that down the road) but I found it interesting while talking to you that your favorite things to do seem to align really well with where we are at nowadays with COVID. I just kind of wanted to walk through some of the activities you enjoy and (just in general) how people can find things to do for free or low cost while we’re all self-isolating. What did things look like for you when COVID started?

Gloria: I thought it would be a two or three week thing and then we would all be back to normal. I had no idea that it would be a global pandemic. It was crazy. We were going to the office then all of a sudden we’re working from home. It was just definitely a hard transition. Getting used to a whole new routine is quite difficult in any situation. But what really helped was creating a routine for myself and sticking to it.

Tom: What does your routine look like and how did that change from before? Were you going out to eat or to see friends? What did your routine start to change to? And what was your commute to the office?

Gloria: The commute was terrible because I live in the suburbs and work in the downtown core. It would be me driving to the train station and then taking the commuter train downtown. End-to-end it would be about one hour, I would say, every day, each way. It was not great. Going out for lunch… I don’t really do that because I like to meal-prep my lunches so I can save money. I feel like going out to lunch is just a waste of money. You go for maybe 30 minutes, grab something, eat it and that’s it. It’s not great. I love going out for dinner because I actually get to have a nice drink, enjoy the ambiance, stay there for maybe two hours and chat with my friends. That’s the vibe—that’s what was going on before.

Tom: You’ve been at home since your office closed and they haven’t asked you to come back yet. I think you said it was a two-hour commute so what are your thoughts on that? What are your thoughts about returning to an office, time-wise? I think this relates to a lot of time-for-money issues. If you can gain back two hours in your day, you can do a lot with that.

Gloria: Yeah, I’m sleeping a lot more now. That’s basically it. No, I’m kidding. But the thing is, I feel like the train ride is about 40 minutes, so it’s not bad because I’m able to do things like work or listen to podcasts, read a book. The drive is 20 minutes so it’s not super bad. I know that a lot of people, especially in the FIRE community, talk about living in a 15-minute community or something like that where everything is accessible within 15 minutes. I don’t know if that’s really feasible if you live in the suburbs or somewhere that’s not a metropolitan area.

Tom: Let’s get into the idea of what your routine looks like now. You’re not doing that commute and everything because you’re working from home. So what’s the day look like?

Gloria: I found it really important to start the day right because the way that you start your day sets the tone for how your day goes. I typically wake up and do a 10 minute meditation. I use this app called, Insight Timer. It’s free and has so many different meditations on it. I think it’s really great. Then I go downstairs, eat breakfast, then log onto my computer and start working away. I snack a lot. I just find myself going over to the kitchen to find something to eat. I’ve been eating a lot of carrots and hummus. I’ve been making a lot of hummus with dried chickpeas too, which is actually great because it’s healthy and cheap. Then at lunchtime I practice yoga for at least 30 minutes. I try to do that every single day because it’s a really good way to break up the day. They say that sitting is the new “smoking” so I’ve got to get moving a little bit. It just really helps to kind of reset, especially if there’s something going on at work that’s a little bit stressful. I find it’s a really good way to just recenter myself and take some time away from the screen. Sometimes I’ll go outside and run because that’s also nice to do. Then after lunch I just work a little more. And yeah, that’s my workday.

Tom: Within your workday, are you making sure to keep the hours in check? I’ve heard of a lot of people working from home nowadays where it’s actually kind of a little too easy to let that clock tick by. Before you notice it, you’ve worked extra. On the other hand, I’ve also seen people say that they’re worried about time-theft from people not working enough. But most of the people I’ve talked to (if anything) are actually more likely to work more than they should because they’re not clock watching, knowing they’ve got to get back home in a car or on the train. Are you staying mindful of that? Do you keep a normal day in check?

Gloria: I try to for the most part. Sometimes it does get quite busy, so obviously, I have to work a little bit more. But my work is pretty project-based. It kind of just depends on what’s happening with my schedule. For the most part, when it’s a regular kind of day, I do my best to keep my eye on the clock and make sure I’m mindful of my time because I think that it’s really important to have that separation between work and home. It’s increasingly difficult now because you are working in your home. One thing I find helps me is having a specific dedicated space for work. After I’m finished work around 5:30 or 6:00, I will close my computer and leave that area and I will not come back until the next morning.

Tom: When the workday is over, what are some of the things you like to do? There is one I want to go into specifically that actually seems to be a bit of a trend this year. You mentioned you are into baking bread. Is this something that existed before or are you just on this 2020 trend?

Gloria: You know what? I’ve always been a baker. I always have loved to bake. Bread has been something that has been very daunting to me. Even though it’s just flour, water, salt and yeast, for me, it’s very difficult to master. I think the reason why sourdough has become so popular is because of the process. There’s a super long process that it takes to do from like end-to-end. Previously, my history of bread making has not been very successful. I’ve tried to make yeasted breads with commercial yeast and they just haven’t turned out well. So I decided I was going to start my own starter. I created this starter which is just flour and water. You mix it up and leave it out. The yeast in the air and stuff makes magic happen. Basically, after you have that ready, you’re ready to do your sourdough loaf. It takes about two days to create this loaf—to bake it and have bread. I think that that’s why nobody’s really done it when they have to leave their house for work, because even though it’s not very labor intensive, you still need to be there. So, for example, you mix up your flour and water and then you add your starter and then you put it away for an hour. And then after an hour, you take it back out, do your stretch and folds and then put it away for another hour. After another hour, you take it back and do another set of stretch and folds. You repeat this process for four or five hours. It’s not like you can just leave the house and have bread. You kind of need to be there. I think that’s kind of why it’s been very popular. But after four months of trial and error, I’ve been able to successfully bake some nice loaves so I’m really proud of myself.

Tom: I didn’t realize there is that much time or work involved but it sounds like that’s why people are picking this up. It’s an affordable distraction for more than half a day.

Gloria: Yeah, seriously. I’ll be reading a book or something and my timer will go off. That’s when I know it’s time to stretch and fold. After five hours of that, you shape your bread. I put mine into a glass bowl and set it in the fridge overnight. Then you can take it out and bake it. It’s quite the journey. It’s been quite a spiritual journey. There’s been a lot of trial and error, learning and perseverance but nothing beats sourdough bread that you make yourself.

Tom: I like the idea that you’re able to get out and do so many of these things. These are the things that we still can do. We may not be able to go to as many restaurants or stores but these are getting you outside. And none of them (I believe) cost a whole lot of money. This seems like it’s something you’re able to do that isn’t breaking the bank.

Gloria: Yeah, absolutely. One thing that I’d like to say, though, is that provincial park camping in your car in Ontario is about $40 a night. It’s not actually that cheap, but backcountry camping is $10 per person. You can hike into your campsite and that is so much cheaper and so much better because there aren’t cars rumbling around. I prefer it.

Tom: Yeah, that’s one of the bigger things for me too. I’d really like to get on a plane at some point and go somewhere, but we’ll see how that goes. What’s your advice to someone that wants to head down this path? You mentioned this idea of once you get into a routine, it’s easy to stick to it. My thought was that can work in the negative, too. If someone’s staying at home all the time and not getting out where maybe they’re spending a lot of money online or something, spending a lot of money online, they’re in a negative routine. How can someone make that switch? What steps should they take to do this cheaper, in a COVID-friendly approach?

Gloria: I think it all just starts with that individual acknowledging that they’re in a negative routine. I think that people are super resilient and super able to do whatever they want. It’s just, do you want to do it or not? I think that “want” needs to be great enough for them to be able to make a change. I can’t tell you what to do. You have to do “you”. But if there’s anything to be said, I think it’s just go outside and get some fresh air. I think your mood will definitely improve. And hopefully, that’s an indication for your body to want more outside time and hopefully that’ll create a positive trend.

Tom: With your talk of yoga and the peace you find in that, what are your thoughts about mindfulness, especially this year?

Gloria: Mindfulness, I think, is super important in general, especially now when people may be a little bit more isolated and not be able to be in touch with as many people as previously. I think it’s so important to practice mindfulness and meditation just to help your own mental health. Being mindful and aware of how you’re feeling is very life changing.

Tom: Well, thanks for running us through some different ideas where people can maybe find a slightly different path if they’re feeling stuck in a rut this year. Can you let people know about your podcast and where they can find you online?

Gloria: Yes. My podcast is called, Miss Findependent and you can find it on Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, wherever you get your podcasts. My website is missfindedendentpod.com.

Tom: Great. Thanks for being on the show.

Gloria: Thank you for having me.

Thank you, Gloria, for your tips on creating routine during quarantine and finding affordable hobbies to pass the time. You can find the show notes for this episode at maplemoney.com/130. I’d like to take a moment to thank you for listening to the Maple Money Show. I appreciate your support in helping us continue to grow. If you have the Apple podcast app on your phone, can you call up Maple Money and give it a quick rating? Even better, leave a review and let everyone know what you think of the show. I look forward to seeing you back here next week when we’ll have Rob Townsend on the show to discuss setting the right goals for the New Year.

It’s really important to have that separation between work and home, and it’s increasingly difficult now because you are working in your home. One thing that I find helps me is having a specific dedicated space for work.” - GloriaClick to Tweet

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