Welcome to my office… Notes from someone who has worked at home for 22 years.
Many of you are in your third week of working from your home as we shelter at home during this crazy, historical, new normal, sometimes frightening time of Spring 2020. For the past 22 years, my home has been my office location. Here are a few tips for working remotely to help you successfully live and work in the same building.
- Be sure, if you can, to separate your working area from your living area.
If you can't have a separate location, pack up your computer, file your papers away in a box at the end of the workday. You absolutely must separate work and living areas, especially during this time when we need to step away from work and spend time with our families. Close the door to your office at the end of your workday. When I first started to work at home, it was tough not to walk into my office and do more work at night. I actually hung a closed sign on the door. Do whatever you have to do to step away from work.
- Get dressed every day, no working in your pajamas, as appealing as that may be.
Just like having a specific space for work, you need to have the right costume on for work, to set the mood. You don't have to be dressed the same as the office, but put on fresh clothes you feel comfortable wearing. Then when you have finished the workday change clothes. Changing clothes helps to set the mood for either work or leisure. During this time, when we are not going out, I like to put on clothes that I might wear for a casual evening out for dinner, to feel life is not dull and dreary. Being a theater person, it's all about the costume!
- Have a starting time to go to your office.
Set a time you will report to work. Set times to take breaks. You need to get up and walk around. Take a break midday. Mid-day is when I go to the post office and Investors Community Bank (drive-through, of course!) In today's world, it's is a big outing I look forward to completing. Also, set a time to stop working. It is just as important as the starting time.
When working from home, it is hard to end the workday, but you must complete the workday. The work will be there tomorrow. Make a list of tasks you will start your day with tomorrow. I call it my warmup list. It gets me focused as soon as I sit down at my desk. Put your work things away, walk out of your work area and enter the world of non-work, whatever that may be.
- Don't eat at your desk.
Get up, go to your kitchen if you need to eat. I call my kitchen my lunchroom during the day. It not only gets you up walking around, it keeps you from snacking too much.
- Take advantage of throwing in a load of laundry during the day or another small household job.
This is something I still struggle with after 22 years of working at home. I must remind myself to do the small things I can because I work at home. I get a little too focused on the work.
- Enjoy the time you are working at home.
You do have a little more flexibility; you are saving time getting ready for work, traveling to work and returning home. Use that time to have coffee with your family, take a walk, breathe, meditate, read a few pages of a book, stretch, do something you enjoy.
- Be sure to get outside every day. Get outside for a few minutes to breathe some fresh air. That is the most important thing you can do.
I recently heard a sermon about life. It resonates today. We have order in our life, then we are challenged and have disorder, we then must reorder our lives. We are all in a time of rearranging how we live. May you all be safe, healthy and happy.
- Christine D. Kornely