Audra's guide to working from home
So, all this time at home. I'm not really a stranger to it. You all might be. Social distancing may have you wigged out. I, on the other hand, sometimes realize when I go to get in my car on Wednesday evenings that I haven't been in my car since I got home from church on Sunday night.
You will survive.
Yes, there are times I absolutely have to get out of the house, but you adjust. Trust me. I've been doing it for eight years now.
If you are adapting to working from home for the (hopefully) short term, let me give you some advice.
For the love of all things, get dressed!
One of my life's mottos is, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Yes, you can work in your pajamas, but don't. You don't have to dress up. You don't even have to be much more decent than your PJs, but get dressed. This gets you into a routine and more into a mindset to work and get on with your day.
Have a dedicated space to work.
You may not be able to dedicate an entire room to an office, but set aside a corner of a room. Even just a desk or table where all you do at/in that space is work. I don't go to coffee shops to work. I've tried the library. I just can't get settle and focused because it's not my routine place to sit down and work.
If you go to a designated space to work, you'll think about getting to work. In my office, I only do work and stuff like bills or maybe printing out something I need for some other purpose. When I leave that room/space, I can leave work behind.
Someone I work with was working from home today. She asked how I managed not taking a nap every day. The answer to that is not working from the couch.
(More pictures of my space are at the bottom of the post.)
If you are distracted by something you need to do, stop your work, do what you need to do, and get back to it.
Last week, I was pre-occupied with needing to get all my tax stuff together. I was hung up on finishing off sorting my crafty business receipts by expense category and needing to get some other bills into a chart before taking my taxes to my CPA. I was doing it at night and putting it off on the weekends.
I had a boatload of work that needed to be done, but I sat down for three hours and finished getting my taxes together. That was a business-related item too. Instead of letting it suck up brain energy, I got it done and off my list.
It's no big deal being in a different location than all your other co-workers. You can function as a team.
I started working from home because when I changed jobs, it was a remote working gig. My boss lived in Seattle. At one point, during the six years I worked for that company, we were all spread out. Texas, Washington, Florida (where my assistant lived), Nebraska and Arkansas. Much communication about work was conducted via our group chat on Facebook Messenger.
Alongside my freelance PR work, I am on staff at New Growth Press which is based in North Carolina. I'm the only person in the central time zone, but several members of the team work outside of the main office. For the past couple of months, the four members of our marketing team were all in different locations. Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ireland. Only one was in THE office. The rest were in OUR offices.
Don't do other things during the day other than work.
The pile of clothes sitting between the washing machine and kitchen table are proof I don't deal with chores during the day. That's for after work. And sometimes it still doesn't get done.
In my last house, my office was upstairs and I had a mini fridge up there so that I didn't wander up and downstairs to the kitchen for something to drink and waste time. I'm right across the hall from the kitchen now, and that has problems all its own.
If you can't handle the silence, that's when you turn on Spotify or Netflix.
I can't do silence. I'm more distracted by the silence than the noise. My mind wanders more in silence. I have the TV on now, and can't tell you all the details of All Rise. I sleep with the TV on. If I wake up and the TV is off and I can't get back to sleep, I turn the TV on. (I don't care what the sleep studies say, it's how I function.)
If you need noise, turn on Spotify on your computer. Turn on Netflix. However, I don't recommend watching something you've never watched before or trying to catch up on the latest episode of whatever your favorite show is. Turn on something you've watched a million times before.
You have no idea how many times I have played Gilmore Girls, West Wing, and Grey's Anatomy while in my office. I play the same things over and over again. It's noise. I can quote along with the episodes without a thought. It's noise. It's usually playing on one computer while I have my back to it and work off of another.
Yes, it is an adjustment, but you can do this!