Love (Your Work) in the Time of Corona

According to Buffer’s 2019 “State of Remote Work” report, 99% of people would choose to work remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their careers. Studies also show that teleworkers enjoy a host of benefits, including cost savings, higher morale, increased productivity, and reduced stress. The current pandemic has made working from home (WFH) the new norm for the formerly cubicle-bound, but while yoga-pants-as-office-attire has found its stride, a lot of people are struggling with unanticipated challenges. As someone who has worked from home for the better part of the past decade, I have some tips and tricks to maximize WFH bliss.

  1. Use a paper planner. I will sing from the rooftops (without a single nickel in affiliate marketing incentives) the benefits of my Full Focus Planner. I love the undated 2-page daily layout with the Big 3 block, 6am-8pm scheduler, and notes; weekly preview; monthly planning pages; ideal week; and annual goals features. At the very least, choose a planner that you can keep open while you work and affords you an 8am-6pm 30-mintue incremental schedule and notes section on each page.

  2. Dress for comfort and joy. The productivity experts telling everyone to get dressed like they would to go to the office are just wrong, y’all. I am more productive when I am comfortable, and that means not wearing a boucle jacket and heels around the house. Plus, all that click-clacking around on hard wood would scare the cats. Obviously, one shouldn’t roll out of bed and right into a Zoom meeting, but there’s nothing wrong with an elastic waist or a cozy caftan.

  3. Design an appealing workspace. Create a sensory experience with color, scent, and the ability to play music for an impromptu dance party. Decorate with inspiring art and personal touches, and infuse with as much natural light as possible.

  4. Develop workday opening and closing rituals. Do a two-minute energy meditation to get in a workday frame of mind. Write out your top three priorities every morning. Close with another two-minute meditation or take a walk outside before transitioning to home and family activities.

  5. Take a movement break every hour. Get up and stretch. See the above-mentioned impromptu dance party. Take the dog for a walk. Pretend that you’re Rocky, and run up and down the stairs.

  6. Eat lunch away from your workspace. Give yourself a 30-60 minute break to eat. Set a place at your dining table or, if circumstances permit, eat outside. Schedule lunch breaks with your spouse or housemate for some in-person connection. Have a picnic with the kids. Join my Mindset Mondays Facebook Live series at noon beginning May 4th.

  7. Co-work mindfully. Teleworking spouse or housemate? Take meetings in private. Use your indoor voice. Respect differences in schedules and desire for quiet time. Minimize interruptions and distractions. Communicate openly, voice your needs, and ask for mutual consideration.

  8. Leverage tech tools. Get comfortable using platforms like Zoom for meetings, Cozi for shared household schedules and lists, Trello for project management and task organization, and Google docs for shared access and easy updates.

  9. Cultivate connections outside of work. After a day full of Zoom meetings, the last thing you may want to do is hop on a virtual Happy Hour. Get creative with staying connected to friends and family. Set up a Facetime chat while you cook dinner. Connect in the sidebar comments during a Facebook Live concert. Write an actual letter or send a card. Plan a Netflix Watch Party. One of my girlfriends started a “Daily Dose of Sunshine” group email thread that we each take turns replying to with stories and photos.

  10. Reflect on the personal benefits and drawbacks. What do you like and dislike about WFH? How can you improve the experience? What tools do you need? Calculate your savings from not commuting every day (and consider a donation to charity if you’re still earning your full salary).

I recognize that I am writing these tips as a catmom with a husband who is also presently at home full-time. While my mother lives with us due to early-stage dementia, and caregiving duties are a regular part of the day, WFH with very young or school-age human children presents a unique set of challenges. I am aware of my limitations in addressing those from the benefit and perspective of experience. If your circumstances are that of a two-parents/same-house family, healthy communication and shared responsibilities are crucial.

So is finding time for yourself. If you are struggling, please reach out.

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