First off, I want to say I’m writing this article for me. Primarily I want to know how to conduct business during a pandemic. I also want to acknowledge here for some people they won’t be able to conduct business. If someone makes a living that requires in-person contact, a cuddle therapist for instance, they won’t be able to go about business as usual. There are many people who are or will be impacted by a pandemic either through a slowdown in their business or a temporary halt altogether.
A question on my mind is what can be done for people who don’t have the luxury to work from home? If anyone has ideas, I’d love to hear them. My university set up an emergency fund for students who now find themselves forced to return home.
But let’s say you can work from home. How do you ensure you’re as productive as if you worked in an office? In my more than a decade of experience of working from home first as a journalist and now a freelance content writer, I have some tips to share.
1.) Feel Your Feelings
First and foremost, feel your feelings. These are not normal times. Things are scary. Even if you’re not worried about the coronavirus yourself, you likely know others who are worried about it. Fear is contagious. So is panic. Let yourself cry and shake and scream or whatever it is you need to do to move the fear. Otherwise, the fear stays stuck in your body like a whirlpool sucking much of your energy.
After your freak out, take a deep breath and remember your resilience. Remind yourself of all the hard times you’ve already gone through and how you’re still here. You made it! You wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t. Also remember human history is filled with episodes of pandemics. This happens. I’m not saying pandemics come without costs because they do. Millions of people die, which is tragic, AND millions of people also live to tell the tale. It’s likely your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918. Some of them died, but more of them lived. That’s worth remembering.
2.) Maintain Set Hours
Working from home it may feel like you have all the time in the world, that you can work whenever, and that’s true. But that mentality is also how you can idle the day away and not accomplish anything. You don’t have to keep the same hours you had while in the office – for instance you could work 9 to 5 instead of 10 to 6 – but set aside certain hours for work. I’m more of a 10 to 6 gal myself and that means from 10 to 6 I’m working. I’ll take a break in the middle of the day for lunch, but if I have work to do, those are the hours I’m working.
Having the mental boundaries around when it’s work time and when it’s playtime will help you stay productive. Otherwise it’s all too easy to say, “I’ll do it later.” As my parents often said, “Later never comes.”
3.) Keep Your Rituals
If you have certain rituals around going to work, keep them. Maybe not the ones that involve going to a coffee shop, but the ones like taking a dog for a walk or going for a run. The normalcy of your routine will help you feel like it’s any other workday, because it is, minus the location.
This also means changing out of your pajamas, for some of you. Some people revel in being able to stay in their pjs all day, but I find getting dressed helps me step into work mode. There’s a clear delineation between sleep and relaxation time versus work time. Similarly, I find getting out of bed to work makes me more productive. There’s a space in my house that’s my work space. All my serious writing takes place at my desk, which means I associate my desk with work and the rest of my house with relaxing. You may not have a desk, but do you have a table or a counter top? Sequester a section of your place specifically for work and that will help with productivity.
4.) Minimize Distractions
Working from home it’s easier to get distracted – your phone doesn’t have to be on silent and there’s that Netflix special you wanted to watch. And it’s such a beautiful day. Wouldn’t it be better to go for a hike? If you’re someone who can work in that way, more power to you. But I think that’s the trouble of working at home for many people – it’s too easy to get distracted.
Minimize distractions by silencing your phone because hey, you’re at work remember? However, if you normally keep your phone on at work, then do that. Whatever method works for you to minimize distractions when you’re at the office, employ the same strategies when you’re at home. You can give in to all the tantalizing distractions after you’ve accomplished your work for the day. Luckily for you, there’s no commute to take into account.
What are some tips you have for working at home? Let me know in the comments. As always, if you need any writing help, reach out. I’m here.