Well, things just got real. You’ve probably been summoned to work from home and if this is your first time working from home, or at least for a longer period of time than you’re used to, then you’re probably a little out of sorts, and you’re definitely starting to get cabin fever.
This is especially true because in the world’s collective effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, you can’t really change your scenery and work at a coffee shop or a co-working space. You’re literally stuck at home, until further notice.
Fret not. I feel you. Through the memes circling around and the humorous self-deprecating texts amongst friends and colleagues, I realized we’re all going through the same shit together. So I figured why not write a blog post about what I’ve learned through this transition, and what I’ve been doing to not make myself go crazy. Considering this will be our reality for an unknown amount of time, let’s make the most of it!
Not gonna lie, it’s not easy to adjust to such a big change. Not just physically, but especially mentally. From having a regular routine of going to an office full of colleagues you can socialize with to being “locked” at home, it will take a trial or two to figure out what works for your well-being, the people you share your space with, and how you can turn your space into a temporary yet productive office as best as you can.
My main advice: adapt. If there’s anything I’m learning in my PM course, it’s to embrace failure and learn from what didn’t work. So allow yourself to try things out, and if doesn’t work, scratch it and move on to another method. Even if you’re not a fan of change, you’ll be surprised at your ability to adapt.
I hope this is helpful, and I hope this brings some lightness to an otherwise uncertain time 💛
This is especially challenging if you share your space with people who are also summoned to stay at home (shout-out to all the parents who are working from home and also watching their kids. Y’all are superheroes). Since I’m not well-versed in the parental department, these tips are geared towards people who live alone, or share a space with a partner or roommate/s.
1. Get out of your pyjamas
It’s way too easy to roll out of bed and log into your work email in your PJs. I mean, that’s a given perk, duh. With time though, I found that working in my jammies just made me feel sluggish and provided no structured line between “getting out of bed” and “working”. Getting dressed made me way more productive and made me feel a bit more put together. Maintaining the usual daily routine of showering, brushing teeth, applying skincare, throwing on clean comfortable clothes and even spritzing my daily perfume made me feel way more refreshed and focused, sans the lazy funk. This is especially important if your job requires you to connect via video conference. Just remember to wear pants.
2. Set up a working space
Basically: don’t work in your bed. Or on your couch. Not only is that bad for your posture, but it’s important to separate a “work space” and a “living space”. I get it, not everyone has a home office but you don’t need one. Get creative! My home office right now is our kitchen table that I’ve moved away from the wall and closer towards facing our window. My fiancé is set up in our den, which is an earshot away from me, but physically separate enough that we’re not in each other’s space so we can both focus on our work.
3. Drink water
At the office I can easily refill my Swell water bottle 4 to 5 times a day, mainly so I can stretch my legs and take a water cooler break. At home, I barely finish half a glass of water. That’s….not good. Especially during a time where it gets dry indoors and a slight dry throat and cough makes you panic. So remember to hydrate yourself.
4. Meal prep
If you’re already a meal-preper, then I strongly suggest keeping up this habit even when working from home. If you usually buy lunch, then incorporating meal-prepping is incredibly beneficial right now because it provides structure, saves you time and you avoid eating a random, unprepared “meal” (Tostitos and carrot sticks isn’t a lunch). This is a no brainer but another bonus part of working from home for a long period of time: you’ll save so much money. Not just on lunch, but on coffee, too (and gas, and transit, and parking, etc, etc. etc.)
5. Go outside
Staying indoors all day was making me go stir crazy on Day 4. From walking an average of 20,000 steps a day to 300 steps was a huge shock to my system. That being said…going outside for some air does not mean socializing with friends. Walk around the block, go hiking in the open air, or walk the longer route to your grocery store/pharmacy. If you normally go to the gym or a workout class during your lunch break, don’t let the temporary gym closures break that cycle: keep up your lunchtime workouts by going for a jog. The point is: stretch your legs, move, and breathe in some outside air. Away from people, of course.
6. Create a productive ambience
You’ve become accustomed to your space and environment at the office, so it can be an adjustment when you have to set up a working space in your own home; the same place you live in, eat in, play in and sleep in. Identify what makes you productive, and just do that at home. It could be anything from sitting near a window, listening to a podcast or Spotify playlist (earphones definitely recommended if you’re sharing a space), lighting up a candle, making yourself an afternoon coffee or tea, etc.
Me personally, I cannot focus if there’s clutter around me. I always need to have a neat and tidy space around me, otherwise I’ll get distracted and anxious by the mess. So that’s an added bonus if you’re like me: your home will always remain tidy!
7. Limit distractions
Listen, I’m just as much of a fanatic to the r/aww subreddit as the next gal, and I’m a sucker for Instagram Stories and IGTV. When you’re at home, it’s much easier to get sucked into the mindless scroll, so it’s best to keep your phone on silent, face down, and away from your workspace. If your job requires you to use your phone, then turn off your notifications for your apps and social media. The last thing you want is a push notification from a Sephora sale distracting you when you’re on a conference call with a client.
Whatever you do, take it one step at a time, do the best you can, and embrace your ability to adapt and to stay strong.