I have to admit that staying indoors it’s not a big problem for me, furthermore, I can now avoid commuting to work and I am finally up to date with laundry :-p. But I know for many people out there the change of scenery came with a lot of headaches, so I decided to share with the world a couple of tips on how to be more efficient and how you can make this period seem like a blessing in disguise.
In 2012 I graduated college and the first job was on an online platform, for about 8 months I worked completely remote until I managed to find a “real” job. I will not lie and say that all those months were sunshine and smiles, but a big part of it was more than OK, it was what I needed. Fast forward 8 years, I am still constantly working from home since the domain allows it a couple of days a month. Clearly, if I would have to chose I would go to the office, but given the special circumstances, I know that those of us who can work from home, are privileged. So here is my advice for doing it right.
Set up your alarm clock at the same hour as if you would go to the office
Trust me, it will help you once you go back and also it will prevent you from oversleeping and starting the day in a rush. The morning routine should remain untouched.
Even more, with the extra time that you get because you no longer can commute, you can do some stretching or even a morning workout, read a few chapters and enjoy your morning cup of coffee in peace. Also, don’t forget about breakfast, you need to get food at regular hours as well.
Stay away from the TV
These are dark times and it seems like a good idea to open the TV and get the latest news but trust me it’s not. You do not want to start your day in panic mode, there will be plenty of time throughout the day to get your information. The morning should be for you and right now you are in the comfort of your own house, you are safe and the world can wait for a few minutes.
Have your desk prepared
This part might be easier said than done, because not everyone might afford to have a room designed for working, if you are among the lucky ones than you can proceed to the next tip, if you are among the others, well let’s make what you have work.
A big part of my life I stayed in a studio, so I had to improvise a working space. One of the key items is NOT to work from an uncomfortable position for your back ( trust me, back pain is real and is no fun at all). You will need a desk or a table and a good chair. You can use the kitchen table or any other space that allows you to have your laptop, mouse and a cup of coffee/water/tea. The ideal minimum length would be as long as your elbows if you would set them on the table.
Another important aspect is the background. This can also be fixed with tools that will blur the background if needed, but if possible set your space in a way in which you can enable your camera and your dignity to remain intact (now might be the best time to clean the room and don’t forget dildos or other personal items in view sight).
If you can choose, pick a place where you can get natural light, idly near a window. It is important for your eyes as I will state in a future tip 😉
Start work at the same hour and follow the checklist rule
Same as with the waking up hour, it is best to keep the old habits alive, your team needs to know they can count on you just the same. For me, it’s important to have a look over what happened the day before and go through the emails before my team gets online so that I can better facilitate what they need and even forecast some of those needs.
At the beginning of the day, I always look to see what I need to accomplish if there are meetings or important aspects that need my attention and I ALWAYS write them down. Once an item is done, I mark it and move on to the next. Having a backlog of items allows me to better manage my time and effort. Also, I try to do most of these in the morning, when I have more energy and I always make sure the items that require me to pay attention to details are done when my capacity to concentrate is at full.
Take a break and “leave” the office
It happened often for me to be so concentrated that I forgot to get up and stretch. Or a full day to go by without eating or drinking water. Make sure you set up a schedule for breaks. It can be every hour to get up and do 10 pushups or go get a glass of water etc. Whatever works for you, but it’s important to do this regularly. If you see that you cannot follow through, set the alarm on your phone to remind you.
Try to say away from distractions
The opposite of being completely lost in your work is being unable to focus. For that, you will need to clear the environment and make sure you reduce the number of distractions. For example, don’t turn on the TV, if you want to see the news, use the internet and a reliable source for 10 minutes and then close the tab.
Facebook can also be a big distraction if you keep on scrolling to see what is new. The same goes for all social media platforms. You can take a break and have a peek, but only if you know you can limit yourself to that.
Even your pets can be a distraction and can make you lose your focus, so make sure you don’t let them interrupt you all the time. If they require your attention give it to them but don’t pet your cat for 8 hours.
Have a proper lunch break
Try to avoid skipping lunch. Make sure you have the food ready or prepare it during your break. Never eat in front of the laptop and if you do, at least watch something positive. Take your time during this break and enjoy your food. It is important for your brain to take a break and let it focus on digesting your food.
Stay away from snacks
Being indoor and on a resting setup, the body might ask for more food because it can think that you are preparing for intense effort. So make sure you don’t let yourself fooled into eating all the time. If you want a snack, make sure you have some seeds, nuts or fruits available and you say away from chips or chocolate. For me, this one is one of the biggest challenges and that is why you will normally don’t find any snacks in my home.
Take an eye break and get fresh air
The fact that you are looking at a monitor for a lot of time, your eyes also need a break. Therefore, give that to them by looking off the window to distant objects. If you don’t have a window near you, look away in the distance. Make this exercise as often as possible and from time to time, open the window to also get some oxygen.
Encourage people to turn the camera on
It is important to encourage human connections and using the web camera is one of the first steps. We need to know that we are still the same people and we are still working together. I have even used the opportunity to have a coffee break with my team where we would just discuss random stuff and enjoy our coffee.
I cannot stress this enough, the fact that we no longer work in the same place doesn’t have to mean we are not the same people. Keeping habits alive is extremely important.
Don’t forget to clock out
Prepare for the next day by cleaning up the workspace, store your laptop away and make sure you can use the space as it was initially intended if you don’t have a dedicated desk. It’s important to have a clear border between work and personal life, so make sure you don’t respond to email all night.
Working from home can be easily seen as an opportunity, perhaps to show the company that the teams cam perform just as well wherever they are. To you, to prove that you can focus on your work and maybe switch to a digital nomad lifestyle, to your loved ones to protect them and clearly to the world to help stop spreading this awful disease that took our freedom away. #stayathome #staysafe