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Holy shit, I have to work from home for how long???

18 March 2020

WFH Schedule IG

Monday was the start of something totally new and totally foreign to a huge part of our population. Most of those in the company I work for had never worked from home, at least not consistently. They may have done an odd day here or there, but those days were often to care for a sick kid or some kind of work from home mental health day. Monday was different. Monday was expected to be like any other Monday, except from home. Suddenly the kitchen table or couch that works as a desk for the random day definitely will not cut it for a long term office. What about monitors? What about a proper keyboard? WHO EVEN OWNS A PRINTER?!?

Reactions to all of those realizations were evident over the weekend, where Best Buy was sold out of monitors and selling people TVs in their place, Staples sold out of headsets, and don’t even get me started on the line at MicroCenter. (Yes, I was out shopping for the couple things I didn’t have, too. I still have no intention of owning a printer.) The things that fewer people thought about tend to be the actual fact of doing work from your home over the long term, and the special steps you have to take to be successful at both your job and your life. As someone who has worked full time remote, I tapped into the memory bank and posted some tips for my friends who were about to be headed into uncharted territory.

Here was my list:

Be purposeful about:

  1. Having a schedule
  2. Leaving the house (but social distance, people!)
  3. Turning OFF the laptop, easy to get sucked in
  4. Connecting with people. Talking out loud, hearing the voice of someone you love.
  5. Showering (seriously, this one is easy to forget)

 

Which I posted with a sample of my schedule for the next day:

7:00 – Wake up, shower, coffee

7:45 – Meditate

8:00 – Laptop on

12:00 – Walk around the lake

12:30 – Lunch

5:30 – Laptop off

6:00 – Work out

8:00 – Call a friend

10:00 – TV off

11:00 – Sleep

There are a couple things I’ll point out in here. I scheduled the things that are easiest to forget to do or write off for lack of time – things like going outside and working out. They are on my schedule, so now I have to choose not to do them. I scheduled the start and end to my workday. There’s also an activity scheduled immediately before and immediately after working hours. That activity is the buffer between life and work. Normally you have a commute to act as this buffer. Without that buffer, it’s easy to have work be “always on.” That’s not to say that you can’t work in the evening, but by putting in that buffer activity, now you’re making the choice to work in the evening, same as if you turned on the laptop in the evening last week. There’s no “OMG, it’s 9:00 and I forgot to quit working.” 

A couple of these things are unique to the current situation, social distancing during the time outside, for example. Normally I’d pet every dog I saw walking around the lake by my apartment, but right now that means probably being too close to a stranger (I made one exception yesterday for a dog that desperately wanted to be my best friend). Being deliberate about calling a friend every day probably isn’t as important under normal circumstances when I would go out with friends a couple nights a week, but right now is crucially important. Even if you live with your family or a significant other, it’s good to talk to people who aren’t them. It might save your relationship. 

It’s okay to be a little disjointed the first day. I spent 50% of my non-meeting time on Monday just dialing in my setup. Tuesday went a little better. Wednesday was a little rough. I’ll get back into my rhythm. You’ll find yours. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re slow getting out of the blocks. It gets better, and getting good at working from home makes you even better when you get back to the office (Hint: It’ll be because you won’t have to be there as much to get the same work done. More on that later.).

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