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With the spread of the COVID-19 virus, those who can work from home around Delaware are being asked to do so to help stem the pandemic’s spread. Simple enough, right? Our hyper-connected culture makes it easy (sometimes painfully so) to stay in touch with the workplace and have them stay in touch with us.
But for those who’ve never worked from home on a long-term basis, it’s much more than lounging in your jammies and watching TV in the background. As a full-time freelancer for 14 years, I should know. Here are some tips to make the transition to home-based work a little easier to bear
Establish your space
Whether it’s a finished basement, bedroom or dining room table, let it be known where you’ll be working and when so those who share your home can know to be respectful of your work time and space. If it’s a shared space, make sure to clear out when work is done.
Set and maintain a routine
I’ve joked with plenty of teleconference participants that I could neither confirm nor deny that I was wearing pants, but the truth is I was always wearing pants (and had showered and shaved, too). Set a wake-up time that aligns closely with your ordinary workday. Shower and dress to trick your brain into taking this new reality seriously. Make time for that healthy breakfast you might sometimes skip on a regular workday.
RELATED: Delaware Today’s COVID-19 Coverage
Set attainable short-term goals
One of the benefits of working from home is lots of office distractions disappear, giving you nearly superhuman productivity powers. Take advantage of that focused time by establishing an immediate goal, setting a timer for 30 minutes, and working straight through until the timer goes off. Reward yourself afterwards with five minutes of something you enjoy—social media, stepping outside or hanging out with a pet, then repeat.
(Some) media is your friend
Turn the music up. Tune the 24-hour news cycle out. Save Netflix for your lunch break or after working hours.
Don’t forget to eat
Working without the buzz of an office around you removes a lot of the daily cues we don’t even realize we’re following. One of them is the smell of lunch from the break room. Without that olfactory reminder (or the siren call of the coworker who always asks, “So, where are we going for lunch?”), it’s easy for some people to work straight through the middle of the day without pausing.
…But don’t graze
A well-stocked home pantry is a tempting distraction. Allow yourself snacks, but don’t sample everything at your disposal every time you walk by the kitchen.
Manage household obligations
The looming pile of laundry. The room that needs vacuuming. The dishes in the sink. They all conspire to rob you of work time. Keep laundry to washing and drying during your work time and save folding for when you finish for the day. Use vacuuming as your post-breakfast, pre-work exercise. Load the dishwasher through the day and run it after dinner.
Utilize your extra time
If you commute 30 minutes one way to your office job, working from home magically restores an hour to your day. Use it to exercise, pursue professional development or work on a side project that commuting normally keeps you from.
Remember to clock out
Do your coworkers abandon the physical office at 5 p.m.? If so, don’t let them monopolize your work-from-home time just because they know you might be online at odd hours. Unless you’re having to work around having young children at home, make it clear that you’ll be observing the standard workday and will respond to after-hours emails the next day.
Remember to breathe
Whether it’s meditation, a run outdoors or 30 minutes of yoga, it’s important to give your body time to reset and to unburden yourself of some of the stresses of the day. Doing so is important on any day, but perhaps now more than ever.