Unsolicited Advice

So, You Find Yourself Working From Home.

(Please Note: I do not have kids so the following may not work if you are trying to work at home while also wrangling sentient tornados. Please leave tips for that in the comments!)

I live in a part of Massachusetts that doesn’t have many confirmed cases of Captain Trips… I mean Covid-19. Sadly though I am surrounded as it’s spreading fairly quickly in both the western and eastern edges of the state.

The good news is that as a freelancer specializing in e-commerce and marketing, my work week isn’t changing much. Actually, the dog and I have our routine and if my husband eventually finds himself working from home the dog’s routine will change dramatically. He’ll have to rotate who he sleeps next to.

That said I’m not unaffected by this crisis. Not at all. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because some of you have not worked from home before and those of you who find you need structure to stay productive are going to be having a rough time.

Here are some tips to help you get shit done from home if you find your mind wandering a bit more than it does at your office.

1. Set a schedule. Some employers may require you to log in and out at specific times but some won’t. If you’re prone to procrastination this could be bad. SO, decide what your hours are, and when lunch is and stick to it as best as you can. Nothing has to be carved in stone, but knowing when you get to clock out is like having a deadline.

2. Set alarms for breaks – get up and move, walk the dog, snack. Also if you have the option to set your own schedule, take a long lunch to give yourself time to do chores. If you tend to rely on coworkers to drag you away from your desk at lunch, you will at the very least want an alarm for that.

When you work in an office there are often sounds and smells that will drag you out of your project and back to reality. At home, it’s easy to work through meals and find yourself crashing come dinner time.

3. Even though the joy of working from home is “no pants” I encourage you to change your clothes / get dressed every day. Even if it’s from one pair of pajamas to another. This will help you get started in the morning. It’s easy to let your appearance slide because no one can see you but it’s not good for your mental health.

4. Focusing on work when you’re home is HARD. Even for those of us who have been doing this awhile. Not only is all your favorite stuff RIGHT THERE, but there’s no one watching to make sure you’re not using your phone or social media too much. Without an overlord or firewall to block social media some of us can fall down the rabbit hole far too often. I recommend an app like RescueTime. I set this app up a few weeks ago to help me track how much time I was working on different projects. That’s not its intended usage though. It’s intended to help you analyze where your time is spent during the day and it can be set to alert you when you’ve spent too much time getting caught up on webcomics. You can even set it up to block distracting sites during your work hours. My block screen has an animated corgi on it that guilts me into getting back to work. Seriously.

Working remotely isn’t always that great. It can get lonely if you’re an extrovert so make time in the evenings to call friends and family people. Organize “water cooler” chats with co-workers using a video chat service. You should also take advantage of this time to work with your favorite music blaring or while listening to that podcast about serial killers without headphones. Hopefully, it will be a while before we need to do this again.