When people find out that I have spent two decades working from home the response always includes something to the effect of, “You’ve got the best of both worlds.” And I do, but I also have the worst of both worlds if I don’t manage it well.
With everyone working from home right now I’m going to give you an incomplete list of things that helped me successfully work from home, no one has time for a learning curve. This is trial by fire, let me help.
- Never bring your computer into your bedroom: If you live in a studio apartment find a way for your computer to live on its own somewhere, perhaps even behind a curtain. Quarantine the workspace.
- Create office hours and keep them.
- Eat meals: stop what you are doing and eat your meal like you’re in a restaurant. Put the phones away, set the table, let your brain wander.
- Exercise: schedule exercises each day. Take a walk, do a workout, ride a bike, whatever it is that you love, make sure to do it each day at the same time. It’s easy to not move your body if it’s not on the schedule. This might be a good time to schedule two or three times daily given the unordinary times.
- Get dressed: Listen, this is a great time to skip makeup or grow a beard, but get dressed in the morning. When I stay in pajamas until noon I start feeling like I’m sick or sad. Put something on.
- Invest in your home office: I stopped buying home office products years ago. Home printers are for suckers, get the entry-level office products, they work better and save you money in the end. WiFi? Enterprise-level is the way to go. Our new house had Eeros and I replaced it with a Dream Machine along with UniFi Nanos and with four of us home, three on Zoom we’re still streaming right along. Home systems will limp along, entry-level enterprise will keep you from pulling your hair out without breaking the bank.
- Be Social: you need more than text or a workplace Zoom. If you live alone make sure to schedule some time with girlfriends where you use your phone to talk not text. Video is nice but not necessary, it’s important to talk to a friend or family member each day. Humans need to connect. Unless….
- Be alone: if you live with family or friends time alone is really important. Maybe take a drive or a walk, let it be silent, and don’t apologize for needing time alone. That trip from office to home at the end of the day? That transition time is undervalued. Honor it and create a few moments where you transition from work to home.
- Don’t complain: Really and truly, you’re going to have to leave the house soon and you have a job. The numbers of soon to be unemployed friends are unimaginable. You don’t have to be grateful, this sucks, but I promise that those of us with work need to just put our lucky little heads down and work.
Locally, some markets are changing their hours. Here’s an evolving list of grocery stores, their hours, and their hours for elderly and high-risk shoppers.
Shop like everyone you love is going to the market right after you. Get the basics and leave the rest. The empty shelves aren’t necessary. I promise.
Finally, take control of social media. NextDoor is a ridiculous app where you find out that you hate your neighbors for a million good reasons. Be the person that brings value. Ignore the drama and start a thread that’s limited to your small neighborhood only and ask people which small businesses are still open. Target and Kroger are nice, but they’re gonna get bailout money. Start a thread where you find out which independent stores are open, what their hours are, and if anyone in your neighborhood is compromised and needs a delivery.
We’re all going to come out of this very different. Hopefully kinder.