This article was original for the Seema.com newsletter and website, but has since been taken down – I keep it here for posterity and your reference.
When COVID-19 forced most of the world to self-isolate, many people were forced to work from home, but some of us were already doing just that.
That doesn’t mean life hasn’t changed for us too, but at least we have some idea how to cope. Here a few ways work-from-home pros have always coped, and some new things we’re discovering.
Things Are Different
For me, a writer, work itself hasn’t changed much amid the coronavirus pandemic, but how I approach my day has. Just because we work from home doesn’t mean we do everything at home. I used to start the day by going to the gym. Now I must exercise at home. I used to leave the house to teach classes some evenings. Now I teach online in the morning. I used to work from coffee shops some days. Now work on the porch sometimes. Plus, with my partner newly working from home, we’ve had to re-arrange our space, share resources, and try not to distract each other. With no social outings, we’ve had to find ways to stay connected. And with businesses closed and excursions limited, we’ve had to be creative to keep the pantry stocked.
Luckily, home-based workers have a bag of tricks to draw from to stay connected, healthy, and productive.
- Keep a schedule – Follow a routine every workday. It helps to have an obligation in the morning. Mine is the class I teach online.
- Don’t work from the couch – The place you relax after work puts your mind in an “after work” state. Better to find another work space.
- Get dressed – You don’t need to put on a suit and tie to stay home, but it helps the mental state to at least wear clothes.
- Exercise – Even if you can’t go out, you can still get a workout. If you don’t know what to do, find a video routine or hire a personal trainer to help you remotely.
- Focus – Home can be distracting, so don’t walk the dog, clean the kitchen, or take a bubble bath until you finish work.
- Take breaks – With no co-workers around to take you to the water cooler, you’ll need to make yourself take breaks. Stand up every half hour and take 15 minutes off every two hours.
- End work – The biggest danger of working from home is you might never stop. Set an end time, put the computer away, and relax for the night.
- Get out of the house – You can’t go to a restaurant, but if you get out for a walk in the neighborhood, it can lift your spirits. Just be sure to follow guidelines on social distancing, masks, and the like.
- Connect – Find ways to connect with friends and family. Make phone calls, set up video conferences, do a virtual game night. Anything to remind yourself your people are still out there.
- Go with the flow – Sometimes you may have trouble keeping a schedule, focusing, or even getting dressed. It’s ok! This is a hard time, and it’s alright if things waver a bit.
This Too Shall Pass
The most important thing to remember as you deal with life as a new home worker is that it’s all temporary. It may not be next week or even next month, but this will be over soon enough. It can be tough, but people are adaptable creatures. Do your best, take a deep breathe, and let yourself enjoy what you can. This too shall pass!