While one of the best things you can do to help this whole quarantine thing end sooner is stay home, and those of us who have the option to keep working while staying home are extremely lucky—some people don’t get the opportunity to earn while this thing blows over, so don’t waste this chance. If, like the vast majority of workers in the Metro, you’re used to getting up, going to the office, and accomplishing your tasks there, this isn’t going to be as easy as cracking open your laptop and banging out some spreadsheets. We’re here to help. Here are some tips we’ve put together, based on years of our own stints of working at home, as well as the experience of others who do it full-time.
Make a schedule and stick to it
Working at home doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want whenever. That’s a recipe for eating instant noodles and chewing through your backlog of shows to watch. A schedule will keep things from descending into chips and Netflix, and is the first thing you need to do to actually be productive. Set a time for waking, actual work, maybe even fixed online meeting times with colleagues. All of this will keep things moving, and get you to settle into a habit that will hopefully carry you through the quarantine period. Be realistic though! You can’t set exactly the same goals working from home as you can working from the office. Trying to meet exactly the same level of productivity immediately at the start of this endeavor is a recipe for burning out. Set realistic goals, bearing in mind that collaborative endeavors may take more time to complete. Not everyone will be able to work as effectively from home.
Dress for the occasion
As tempting as it is to stay in your jammies all day as you bang out a couple of emails, getting ready and changing clothes isn’t just something that ties you back into your old routine, it puts your mind in the right place. There are things that happen in our brains, consciously or not, when we get ready in the morning, and you’re trying to tap back into that passively productive part of your mind that starts processing things while you’re in the shower, idly thinking about your tasks. I personally found that this is a huge thing, and once you’re clean, refreshed, and in a pair of pants, your mind starts to shift into work mode. It’s amazing how well this little trick works.
If you can manage it, set aside some space that is devoted solely for working. If you have a spare room, use that as your office, and keep it dedicated to work—nothing non-work-related should be allowed. This will start to condition your brain into getting into that work mindset whenever you’re there. For those of use with limited space, pick a corner and stick to working there, or if there’s absolutely no other option available, face a different wall. The point here is to have your mind associate that room, corner, or wall with work, so that when you’re in that zone, you get your mind in the correct space as well.
Stay out of the kitchen
When you’re at the office, you probably have a cup of coffee, a tumbler of water, and maybe a pack of crackers at your desk. At home, you have access to your whole kitchen, and a pantry that’s possibly full of your favorite snacks. The urge to pick up a snack and go to town on it is constant, and very real. You have to resist. Not only will it kill your momentum, it could straight up make you fat. Make some coffee, grab a tumbler of water, and maybe a snack, and keep it at your workspace so you can have a drink and munch on a thing just like you would at work. Once that’s gone, it’s gone. Remember, you’re at work now. What you’ve got is what you’ve got. Lunchtime will of course necessitate the movement to the kitchen or dining room. With our daily commute time cut down to zero, you now have a little extra time to prepare food for yourself. Make large batches of varied food, so you can just toss something on the stove or microwave. To make yourself feel better about the endeavor, you can keep tabs on the amount of money you save on food expenses! If you brought baon anyway, rejoice in the fact that you have much better food now than you did pre-quarantine.
When we say “coordinate” we mean talk to your colleagues, as well as the people in your home. As we mentioned earlier, it’s not reasonable to assume your workmates will be as good at working at home as you might be, so be reasonable and clear when asking for deliverables. Lots of jobs have tasks that hinge on the work of other people, and if everyone is on the same page, things will go more smoothly. Bear in mind though, that some people are going stir-crazy, and might be on-edge, so be tactful as well.
Coordinating with people in your household is also important. Trying to complete a task when people keep bothering you for one thing or another, or while people are hogging the bandwidth can be frustrating, and runs counter to what you’re trying to achieve with the whole working from home thing. Let them know that you need time to do your thing, but if they really need you, you’re right there. After that, the best you can do is hope they take you seriously.