Must Have Work from Home Items
A quick show of hands, how many of you expected to be working from home for an extended period of time in 2020? I know I sure didn't; part of the appeal of my current position was that it was NOT a work-from-home setup, I had tried on that shirt and decided it didn't fit. In fact, less than a week before the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns, I was on a plane to Texas for a work event and penciling in travel dates for 2021.
It's been over six months since that. Let that sink in for a minute... six months.
I have been fortunate to be in a position where I can do my job just as well, if not better, from the comfort of my own home. It certainly hasn't been without its pitfalls, including some serious burnout and bad habits that did not make my life easier.
By no means have I reached a WFH Nirvana or even the Foo Fighter level, but I have found a couple of key things that made life easier, more productive, and less stressful in this weird situation.
WORK FROM HOME MUST-HAVES
A "Good" Home Coffee Set-Up
I am a certified coffee-obsessed human. Specifically, I am your basic white Millennial female with a Starbucks habit. When I was working in the office, heading to Starbucks was a rare treat since there wasn't a convenient one on my commute. Working from home? I could go pretty much whenever I damn-well pleased! Sometimes twice a day! Get your meal there too! Treat yo' self!
me, in the mirror every morning
This became a very expensive and waist expanding habit very quickly.
I'm not saying that you should drop thousands of dollars on importing a fancy espresso machine from Italy (but if you do, please socially distance delivery me a double shot). What I am saying is that figuring out how to make your morning cup(s) special and something to look forward to.
In case you were wondering, I don't have this down to an exact science yet, but I can note that the Oatly Barista Edition creamer and my partner's Tayst coffee sub are both pretty great ways to start the day.
Dedicated "On" and "Off" Hours
This is a difficult one on a few fronts.
A.) Working in media, you always have a finger on the pulse since things can move so quickly. Case in point... the entirety of 2020 thus far.
B.) We are addicted to our smart devices. The "smartphone addiction" has been written about in Psychology Today since 2013, and we sure haven't gotten any less attached in the years since.
C.) It's not like we're doing anything else... we're stuck at home.
Without a doubt, this is what contributed to my summer burnout. What fixed it was a week in the woods with no cell reception. It rained the whole time and all we could do was read books... it was glorious.
Work/Life Balance is not a new struggle for most of us, but now that work has encroached INSIDE THE HOUSE, the lines are even fuzzier. Which means, we need to flex some boundary-setting muscles.
What has worked for me is turning audio notifications off my phone after 7pm (baring anything prescheduled), stepping completely away from the computer for my full lunch break as often as I'm able to, and time blocking my day to maximize my attention span and give more realistic expectations on when I can have things finished.
A Notetaking System That Works For You
I don't know about you, but I do not retain anything from meetings unless I'm writing it down on paper with a pen. Typing things as I'm listening pulls my brain hemispheres in different directions. Can't do it. But you put a TUL gel pen in one hand and a notebook with a comedic or snarky saying in the other, I can tell you exactly who said what, when, and how.
actual footage of me when my mic and camera are off in zoom calls
My current method is a bastardization of the Bullet Journal Method. It's ridiculously simple and I can go back to it days/weeks later and still understand what's on the paper. It's also easy to quickly transcribe to electronic form and fill in the gaps with words as opposed to symbols.
Budget Line for Office Supplies
Sure... you might think you have enough stationery and office supplies to kit out a scrappy start-up, but have you ever counted how many post-it notes you go through a day? Why do all the pens in the house appear to be full of ink yet write dry? Where did you put that external drive cord, anyway?
Unless you're stealth sneaking into the office at night to ransack the supply cupboard, you probably will need to mask up and go to get reinforcements. Since you're the only one using it... get the nicer stuff. The name brand Post-Its stick way better and a good pen is worth its weight in gold. Like with the coffee, having nice things that make you feel good about the work you do goes a long way.
This might also include upgrading your home workspace and getting a better chair, trackpad, or second monitor. Do it. Your back and wrists will thank you. Just save your receipts for tax time if you're not reimbursed.
Self Care Items
This year is hard. At any given moment, a part of the country is on fire, both figuratively and literally. We all thought this would be over by now. And yet, here we are.
the official gif of 2020
Three things I've done to manage my anxiety and mental load during this period are:
Get a meal kit service
Send my laundry out to be serviced
Brain Dumping/Journaling before bed
Are they indulgences that I could get the same results without spending the extra money? For sure. But the time, energy, and brain cells they've saved have made it easier for me to find moments of zen among the chaos; I don't have to choose what's for dinner, I don't have to constantly battle laundry mountain, and I don't have to try to not forget things as I drift off to sleep.
What has helped you adjust to working from home? Let me know in the comments below!