As some of us transition into working remote, you might be finding it hard to focus. (I certainly am.) While we should all be gentle with ourselves and others right now, it’s hard when there are also things you need to get done. With that in mind, we have gathered up some tips for working from home from our Atla staff (all pros and amateurs at the remote work life) to help you out.
Don’t Wear Pajamas
This is a pretty basic one, but it bears repeating. Although it’s important to wear comfy clothes that you like, you should also avoid literal sleepwear. Christine Fruin, our Scholarly Communication and Digital Projects Manager, says, “Get up and get ready for the day like you are going into an actual office – it’s much easier to get into ‘work mode’ if you are dressed for work. Don’t even think about working in PJs or comfy weekend loungewear.”
Turn “Have to” Into “Get to”
Mindset is important for any challenging time, and this is no exception. Meredith Miller Oliver discusses how to shift your perspective from “I have to work from home” to “I get to work from home” in her fabulous Facebook livestream. As she points out, “…the truth is… there are literally thousands of healthcare workers who are working twenty hours a day on their feet taking care of sick people, and what will be likely a much bigger influx of sick people, who would probably trade positions with you in a nanosecond if they got to work from home.” We are the lucky ones who can work from home, and sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and remember that.
Set Up Your Workspace…
Depending on your situation, your workspace might be a separate room, a table, a desk, a chair, or even the couch. Christine recommends, “Have a workspace that is ONLY for work. Don’t work at the dining room table, or even at a desk in the corner of the living room if you can avoid it. Have a space that is dedicated to your job – a space that you go to and, more importantly, leave each day. It is much easier to get out of work mindset and into the home mindset when you have that physical separation and lack of visual reminder in your other living spaces that you and your family occupy.” Tawny Burgess, Marketing and Communications Manager, says, “I am not able to have a separate room to work, so I have created a ritual I do at the end of each day. I shut my computer down, turn off my mouse (need to preserve those batteries!), and I say out loud, ‘I am done for the day.’ This helps me separate my work and home life.”
…And Make It Cozy!
No matter what your workspace looks like, there are things you can do to make it a little more of a pleasant place to be. Christine says, “Invest in a good chair or stand-up desk. Have fun post-its and desktop tchotchkes, pretty file folders – same as you would at an actual office. Don’t cheat yourself just because you are at home. And if you can – paint that space a color that inspires you and makes you happy. My office is this dusty shade of pink that I absolutely love. People scoffed when I painted this room pink, but three years later it still brings me joy and warmth and comfort. Hang a big whiteboard or paint a wall with chalkboard paint – it is a great home office organizational tool to keep all your projects organized.”
Tawny shares how she makes her new temporary workspace cozy. “My Funko Pops usually lined my bookshelf at the Chicago offices, so now I have them at home to keep me company. It’s a nice reminder that while some things have changed, like working at home, I also have the constant reminder that Hagrid and Superwoman have my back.”
Hang Out With Your Coworkers
One of the things I miss most about office life is spending time with my coworkers. But just because we are far away doesn’t mean we can’t still hang out! Charlotte Nahon, our Member Programs Coordinator, suggests, “Establish a virtual space for casual connections. We started a Watercooler channel in Teams and use it to share cute pet/child/plant photos and lighthearted conversations. It helps us stay connected and get to know each other beyond our day to day work.”
Christine adds, “Utilize the available tools to communicate with your coworkers. Don’t just talk to them when you have to – for meetings or with work-related questions. Just as you would stop by their office and say hello in a physical office, do the same via email, Teams, or Skype – whatever medium your workplace uses. And if you are a manager, encourage your team to treat your ‘green status light’ as an open door.”
Don’t Sit in Silence
This one really depends on your personal work style, but consider listening to music or podcasts while you work. I’ve been blasting musical theatre songs all day to keep my energy up. Charlotte says, “I prefer not to work in absolute silence. Listening to podcasts helps me stay engaged in what I’m working on and adds a conversational aspect to an otherwise quiet day. My favorites right now are Ologies, My Favorite Murder, and On Being.” Of course, some folks find music or conversation to be distracting and liable to make them unproductive. You can substitute these with instrumental music or calming background noise. And some things do not change as Denise Mcfarlin, Atla Meeting Specialist, continues to listen to classical music while at home – something that could always be heard from her Chicago office. Experiment and see what works best for you!
Prioritize and Adjust Expectations
Right now, it’s tempting to either give in to despair and do nothing or throw yourself into overachiever mode and try to do everything. (I waffle back and forth between these two every day.) But ultimately, neither of these is helpful. The best thing to do is to look at your work and prioritize what absolutely must get done. It’s okay if you don’t manage to finish all your projects and clean out your inbox and train the cat to sing opera. We’re living through a very strange time, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about what you can get done every day, while still making sure that you are meeting your deadlines.
Do you have any work from home tips? Are there any secrets to your success that you would like to share with us? Tag us on Twitter or Facebook and let us know your tips for working from home!
Photo Credit: by Chris Gonzalez from Pexels
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