Sure, many of us have taken the occasional WFH day, but there’s a big difference between one day and a few weeks. Here’s how to deal.

By David McCann
March 30, 2020
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Because of a series of unforeseen changes in my life, October 1st, 2019 was the day I began to working from home. It has been one of the greatest unplanned changes I’ve ever experienced. But it was not without challenges.

As the world begins to adjust to (yes, I’m going to use THAT phrase) The New Normal, we who are fortunate enough to be able to WFH are all trying to find ways to cope. I truly miss my coworkers, especially the young woman who was my closest colleague and became one of my closest friends. How do you go from nonstop interesting conversation eight hours a day to occasional phone calls? How do you go from the visceral thrill of NYC to the glorious but solitary pleasures of being at home on the Hudson? 

In the first place, I am eternally grateful that this change means that I have been, essentially, self-quarantined for 6 months. In terms of health, I hope and trust that this is a good thing. And I have always dreamed of having the time to spend my days writing; I now have that. However, since making the shift about 6 months ago, I have had to figure out how to productively work from home. Which is a puzzle I realize many of you are figuring out (likely, for the first time) now. 

There’s no doubt, it’s an adjustment. Home is rife with temptations.

There’s the kitchen. And that not only contains food, but actual real delicious coffee.

There’s the TV.

There’s social media.

There’s the garden.

And, quite possibly the worst, there’s the bed.

So, I have come up with some “almost” rules for working from home. They work for me, and they may work for you. (And they may not.) Either way, I strongly suggest that you adopt some kind of “rules” for this period of remote work, in order to give yourself a bit of structure.

Set Your Alarm 

I get up. Maybe not at 6, but 7 allows me some needed rest without sleeping the day away. I shower and dress. OK, maybe the dress part wouldn’t pass corporate muster, but I do put on clothes. 

 Make a Designated Workspace 

I am lucky enough to have a house, so I have set aside a writing space that feels conducive to productivity for me. This way, I can take my coffee and “go to the office” to focus, rather than simply pull a laptop into bed with me whenever I wake up.

Establish a Schedule that Works for You

 I try to enforce “work hours” each day. No, not the standard 9 to 5 (being a freelance writer, I have the flexibility to set my schedule without considering conference calls), but at least a concentrated 10 to 4, with a lunch break tucked in. 

Make a Point to Move During the Day

To continue my quasi-religious 64 ounces of water a day ritual, and to avoid sitting in a chair endlessly, I keep my water on the first floor while I work on the third. (I know, I know… but we all work with what we have, I’m lucky enough to have a third floor!). Getting up and moving throughout the day, even in small ways, is good for you in more ways than one. Instead of just taking breaks, I’m trying to use some of those breaks to do some crunches, or squats, or push ups. Believe me, it gets me out of the chair, gets my blood moving, and makes me come back to the computer ready to work again. 

Be Kind to Yourself

Now, keep in mind, all of the above rules are “ideals.” I want to follow these rules, yes, but I think the most important rule of all is not to waste ANY energy beating yourself up when you break one. We are all dealing with some major craziness here. We need to be generously kind to ourselves. And in that spirit, I say….

If you want to stop at 3, stop at 3. Just not every day

If you want a snack at a time that you “shouldn’t,” do it. Just not every day.

If TCM is showing your favorite movie at noon, watch it. Just not every day.

You see where I’m going. Make your own rules and make an effort to abide by them. But remember you are not in an office. And forcing yourself to pretend you are, on pain of death, will just make the situation worse. You know what you need to get done to satisfy the powers that be. Accomplish it… in a manner that’s appropriate to your current situation (of course realizing that deadlines still exist). Yes, you need to discipline yourself (5 movies a day and 18 trips to the kitchen will not help anything). But be kind. However that looks for you. 

We have to do this. And, again, we are ridiculously lucky to be able to WFH. So, be good to your responsibilities AND be good to yourself. See you on the other side.