It’s 6:44 a.m. and you live in the woods, the sky is blue and you look out your window and see a mountain in the distance. If you didn’t work at home before, thank your lucky stars the pandemic gave you an opportunity to make it a reality.
I took that opportunity recently. What I discovered upon leaving the office is how much more immediately productive I became when I no longer had to commute back and forth every day.
The pandemic hit and suddenly many of you were working at home too. And you, no offense, may be terrible at working remotely; Rookies making rookie mistakes.
With the accelerated vaccine rollout and large portions of the workforce likely returning to the office at some point this year we’re going to be returning to some semblance of normal. However, there will probably be hundreds of thousands of people working from home that previously weren’t.
To be sure, working from home isn’t for everybody and while it’s worked for me, I certainly haven’t got it right by any means. I live in a house where interruptions are common, I really wasn’t getting outside as much as would be expected, I’m at the mercy of my spouse and a 2-year-old and I lagged on hitting deadlines. Not to mention, I have a basket of laundry that’s piled ceiling high.
But alas, without getting too much into the details (they’re most likely all my fault) it’s back to reality. What I learned is there are all sorts of life hacks to maximize efficiency and sustain a comfortable work-life balance.
Do not just wear your pajamas all day
I’m not saying that you need to wear a suit and tie like you’re going to a bank or something (But also it wouldn’t hurt?). Your mind, body and soul can’t help but not take anything you’re doing seriously if you’re still wearing your bedclothes all day. You obviously don’t have to be formal but you have to set very clear boundaries for “work time” and “off time.” A great way to do that is to dress accordingly. I recommend at a minimum workout clothes, which at least hint to your mind, body and soul that you should be doing something right now. Changing your clothes before you sit down to work tricks you into believing your surroundings have changed. Tricking yourself into believing that you’re under more scrutiny than you actually are is a key part of working from home.
Limit how much time you spend on social media
This should be a no brainer. Social media is making us all crazy anyway. The problem with being at the computer all day is that you get sucked into a black hole of scrolling. When you start you don’t stop and combine that with cabin fever and get the total madness. We’ve all reached the peak over the past year. Find an app that will block whatever sites you want for as long as you want. You’ll be much happier and more productive. Genius, right?
Do not forget that you are also in your home
I was talking about this with someone the other day and they said, “How can that work? Don’t you just want to go lie down?” No, it’s the opposite.
Being home, at the office, means being at the office all the time. There is some work to do and if you allow yourself, you’ll spend all your waking hours doing it. We have a national issue with workaholism and burnout. The issue is not remembering your home is your office, the issue is remembering that it is not just your office.
Some of us are sitting at our desk every hour of the day and nowhere else in our home or apartment. It’s your living area. Live in it.
At the same time, sitting all day is bad for you. Research indicates that each hour of sedentary activity can lower your life expectancy by more than 20 minutes, which if you think about it is both amazing and frightening.
This is key, especially in the pandemic plus … You live in Vermont! People that work from home constantly have to remember that there’s a whole world to explore. (It definitely shouldn’t be lost on us!) Go see it. Your home, your computer and your work will be waiting.
Do what works for you, but set a schedule
I’m a writer. I write. It starts with a foundation. I recommend making a list of tasks to start the day. Get a calendar if you need to and fill in those blank spaces. And please, don’t put the calendar on the floor underneath the book about “Do it yourself” home fixes. If you were really doing it yourself, your spouse wouldn’t be hiring someone every week to clean the floors.
If you get all the tasks done, great. You get time to read a book or play games or even put your pajamas back on. But no matter what, don’t add to your list of tasks and don’t go past your set time. Trust me, you won’t stop.
It also helps to set a timer on your phone and follow it. Be done. Go on to the next task.
Love it or hate it, working remotely is today’s reality but balance is key. Try to determine what’s best in your life and meet the demand for your profession in the middle. After all, life is all about balance, right. Now, go back to work and stop scrolling.
Kris Lantz is a staff writer for The Messenger. He originally hails from California and lives in Berkshire with his wife (A native Vermonter) and 2-year-old daughter.