Over the last several weeks, a lot of people in my life have had to start transitioning from a busy, chit-chat-filled office work environment to a work-from-home situation. Some personalities have an easier time of it than others, and I’m one of the few I know whose life has not experienced a huge upheaval like so many others’. My work and most of my social life is actively online almost all the time.
I’ve written a post before on how to get started working specifically in the editing world (here), but I thought I’d write some more general tips for how to survive a transition to working from home.
One of the first things that happened when the COVID-19 lockdowns really started kicking in was that a friend opened up a Photocircle page for friends in the area. Several of my friends do not do Facebook, so the Photocircle app was a super easy-to-use and convenient way to instantly have a mode of connection that is interactive and fun. You can post pictures and comment on each other’s photos without having to deal with a bunch of nonsense and ads like you do when you log in to Facebook. Only those who are invited have access to the page.
As a gamer, I am also pretty much constantly logged in to Discord. I highly recommend it for anyone who is looking for a way to easily jump in and out of voice-chats with people they want to talk to. You can set up channels and invites, as well as personalize your text and voice channels to signify what each room is for. Blogging and forums are fun, but if you’re looking for an easy way to connect and personalize a common voice-chat with friends, I definitely recommend Discord.
Okay, so how about the work situation? Depending on your work, your experience might be easier or more difficult than others’. If you are used to getting to work and having lots of people to talk to, it will be quite a different world when suddenly all of your correspondence is happening online or through virtual conference apps. I’ve read about some work circles setting up a virtual workroom where everyone stays connected via a webcam and mic throughout their workday. Still, you will find that it’s never quite the same as interacting with people face-to-face.
In addition, you have the responsibility of keeping yourself accountable for how you use your work time! This is probably one of the most difficult aspects. When you are at home, it is easier to get distracted or just downright lazy sometimes, lol. When you don’t have a time-clock or a supervisor standing over your shoulder, it becomes incredibly easy to drift off into Reddit-land or the dreaded YouTube hole, suddenly finding yourself at a loss for hours of time that seem to have just disappeared! Or you get to reading messages in your Facebook Messenger app and find yourself lost in an hours-long conversation about the latest numbers in the news, etc.
My tips for working at home focus on three things: plan, take breaks, and establish an “end-of-day” routine.
Plan: One of the first things I do when I get a new book editing contract is take a look at the manuscript and decide how many pages I can do in a day (taking into account other projects, etc). Take a look at your workload and figure out what your goals are for that day. I know that if I just tell myself, “I have four days to get this done,” I inevitably end up leaving most of the work for that last day. At that point, I have to rush and stress myself out, trying to get so much done in one day. Like I mentioned before, it’s easier to procrastinate when you are working from home with no one around to kind of encourage you to be diligent, lol. Giving yourself clear goals for each day, if this is applicable to your job duties, is one of the first things I’d recommend making a habit.
Take Breaks: This is so important. You might be like my husband in that when there is a task to be done, he pretty much jumps in head-first, determined to get everything done in one go, even if that’s not really feasible. When you do this to yourself, one of two outcomes often occurs: Either the work you’ve done is not as good as you wanted it to be because you were stressed and rushing, or you don’t finish in time and you beat yourself up about how you should have done better.
Research has shown that pushing yourself in this way leads to less efficiency and inferior results. It is also terrible for you physically, concerning those whose work requires being on a computer or a phone line for most of the day. It is important to get up, at least for a few minutes, every hour or two, if possible. It is important to clear your mind and get away from a screen, so taking a break to continue sitting and scroll through Facebook doesn’t count! lol I like to get up and do something productive around the house. Throw a load of laundry in or clean some dishes. Wipe the counters, pick up around the living room, or just go grab a glass of water and sit outside for a minute. It’s amazing how refreshing just a few minutes away from the computer can be. If you are feeling tired in the afternoon, go rest on the couch or in bed for a few minutes. If you need to, take a 20-minute nap. I don’t personally do well with naps, but if you tend to wake up feeling refreshed after one, go for it. Exercise or a quick workout is an awesome way to take a break as well, though sometimes I feel like this makes it more difficult to get back to work, as I just want to end the day after getting all sweaty, lol. Do what works for you!
Mark Your End-of-Day Transition: This is a big one for me. Since I don’t have that commute to and from work that I used to, I’ve discovered that it’s important for me to somehow mark the transition from work time to done-with-work time. In place of that commute home, when I used to leisurely listen to music or NPR while planning my evening, I now like to keep up a routine of one of several different options.
One of the things I do (most of the time) is actually get dressed for work! Dressing business casual, or something that makes me feel good, helps me to feel more productive, somehow. My husband thinks it’s strange, but I find that one of the most helpful things about it is that when I’m done with work, I use dressing down as a way to kind of signify to myself mentally that it’s time to relax and put work-stuff out of my mind. Another way to transition is getting in that workout. I like to drive to my favorite park for a walk. It’s kind of like a reward for finishing the work I planned to get done that day. If you’re in any way like me in the procrastination factor, I don’t recommend using a long break before your work gets done. Breaks should only be a few minutes to a half hour. Otherwise, I tend to slide into a “meh, it’s late now, I will just do double the work tomorrow…” When I get too far away from that work mindset, it becomes very difficult to come back to it!
Another favorite transition for me is to take a nice, long shower. It’s the most relaxing thing I can do to signal to myself that it’s the end of the workday.
Leave a comment below and let us know your best tips for getting into an efficient work-from-home routine. Thanks for reading. Stay healthy and safe! =)