By now, you’ve discovered one of two things. The wonder of working without pants, or the horror of being stuck at home, disrupting your entire social life. I’m of course talking about Working From Home (WFH). The corona virus may not be the best circumstance to be introduced to remote working. But that shouldn’t stop you from a thriving career in the comforts of your home.
I’ve been working from home for almost a year now. My day job involves a lot of tech writing and digital marketing activities. Technically, I only need a fast computer and a stable internet connection to operate. So I thought of sharing my own experiences and what works for me. Hopefully, this helps you.
The isolation can be liberating, but a daily routine is essential
The thought of not needing to get up and travel for work alone may be liberating. Sure, you save precious time and money. Most importantly, you don’t have to deal with your colleagues and all their random problems at the office. But if you don’t get into the habit of building a disciplined work routine, your work will go sideways and down the drain.
This might sound a bit corny. But I’ve found it to be helpful to make a list of tasks for tomorrow, at the end of each day. It helps to wake up every morning knowing what task you need to prioritize.
Divide your time. I can’t emphasize enough about the importance of dividing your time. If you’re an early bird like me, try to get ahead of the day’s work and finish up pending work. Although sometimes it might not work out that way. Some days I find it challenging to focus all my attention to work first thing in the morning. Those days, I usually wake up at around 5.00 and spend an hour or two either a bit of gaming or watching some YouTube videos. That way, I sort of flush out any “nonsense” early. I try giving work an hour or two extra for later during the day. The idea is to balance things out.
Get your tools in order
Never underestimate the importance of going into something prepared. Getting your tools and services sorted out will help manage your workload on a daily basis. I’ve tried to just stick to Email and WhatsApp. But it's a near-impossible task to do so in the long run. Luckily, after months of working from home things have fallen into place for me. In case it helps, here are a few things I use almost daily.
- Slack (duh!): Combined with a few app plugins, this can supercharge your work routine
- Office 365: The cloud service subscription would serve you well if you do a lot of writing
- Canva: Helps with creating specific artworks if you want to save time. Also, it's free!
- Google News: There’s a lot of reading on my part. Google News curates an accurate list of news articles for me (most of the time). Feedly is a decent alternative
- Brave browser: Built-in adblocker and sometimes faster than Chrome
- Grammarly and Hemingway Editor: Again, helps with writing
There’s a lot more cooking involved in your daily chores
Don’t get me wrong. Food delivery apps are a lifesaver. But you can’t depend on them for all your meals, every day. At least I can’t. This is good a time as any, to get into cooking. Unless you’re already doing it of course.
Even if you can’t cook to save your life, there are tons of recipes out there that will help you get started. For instance, try this carrot cake recipe. You literally have to just add all the ingredients together and bake it in the oven.
Who knows, maybe you’ll start enjoying yourself. Either that or you might just end up burning down the kitchen. Still, worth a shot right? At least you’ll have something to occupy yourself with other than work.
Perfect time to get on that online course
Now that you have more time on your hands, it might do you some good to finish that online course you’ve been meaning to finish. Back when I used to commute to work daily, I spent close to about 2 hours per day on the road. So I try spending those 2 hours on a course instead. Though I confess, I tend to hang on to assignments longer than I should.
But in case you haven’t already, its high time you signed up for a course. There’s a whole plethora of online courses out there, ranging from Photoshop to Data Science. Almost all of these courses will let you go at your own pace. Additionally, a WFH environment is only going to help you. Coursera, Udemy, and even LinkedIn Learning are always good places to look up.
Pets are the best co-workers
On many days, it’s just my work and “Pips”. It helps to have a furry friend beside you to keep you company. If it's one thing that will guarantee to keep your spirits high is your pet. They can be the perfect co-worker too. They won’t judge you. They won’t ask any favors from you. Their fluffy faces will only be of love and encouragement. Although they’ll probably annoy you, but for very different reasons.
The only problem is that your furry friend will always crave for your attention. While that can be fun most times, it can also serve as a distraction. Particularly if you’re working from home. I can’t tell you the number of times I pet my dog and ended up playing catch with the guy. Before I knew it, I’ve lost precious daylight. Maybe it's just my lack of discipline.
One thing that could help is to keep your pet-related activities to a rough schedule. It may sound a tad bit silly. But the point is to keep yourself focused throughout the day as you operate your career through the comforts of your computer. My hyperactive canine has no idea of the importance of what I do on my computer. His life only revolves around food, love, playtime, and sleep. Regardless, keeping things organized on the pet frontier may help keep things in order.
Then again, you could use a distraction or two
Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few distractions in your daily routine. Remember that you’re going to be stuck inside your room for most of your day. So a few distractions will help you pass the time better. Most of my work is spent on writing and social media. In between, I spend about an hour on Apex Legends. Other times, I try to catch up on my reading.
I wish I could say streaming Netflix and YouTube helps too. But they don’t. They really don’t. I think I can safely assume that I’m not the only one who has regularly fallen in the YouTube rabbit hole. You might start off with a simple 6-minute video. Before you know it, you’re watching old clips of John Oliver on ‘Mock This Week’. Netflix is no better. There’s a reason why binging is synonymous with the streaming service. So if you’re looking for distractions, services like Netflix and YouTube are a big no.
Keep calm and work from home
Just to be clear, I’m no expert. I might have been doing this a bit longer than a few. But I’m still figuring things out myself. Hopefully, the above helps you in some way.
All in all, never did I imagine that governments around the world would someday pressurize their citizens to stay home. Such are the times. But as simple as it sounds, the best thing each and every one of us to do is just that. Stay home. Let the authorities and health professionals do their thing. Let’s all just keep calm and WFH.