Yesterday we posted tips for managing your office phones while you aren’t in the office. This blog isn’t about your phone; it’s about your brain. Given the impact of hurricane Sandy, lots of people will be working from home over the next few days or weeks. For some, working remotely is old hat, but for many it will be the first time. I’ve been working from home for almost 10 years. My mother also worked from home while I was growing up, so I’ve got a good sense of how it can work and how it can make you nuts. I’d like to share four key tips.
Have a workspace
If you have a home office – awesome. If not, you don’t need to have one installed on the side of your apartment. All that matters is that there is a space where you work that is distinct from other spaces in your home. You don’t need a desk, or a file cabinet, this isn’t about organization. Any space will work. It could be a bean bag chair in the corner of your son’s room, or the right side of your futon. All that matters is that it is the space where you work. Why? Because when you are done working, you get up and leave that space. I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ve learned that there is something deeply important about leaving your workspace. It also sends a message to others in your house. If I’m sitting here, I’m working. If not, let’s chat.
Just do it
There will be distractions. If you are on a conference call and you notice a plant that needs to be watered. Just get up and water the plant. I’m not suggesting that this is a good time to wax the floor or change your transmission fluid, but little distractions are better resolved than ignored. If your dog is whining because she is hungry, but you are working on the last paragraph of your report, don’t try to ignore the dog. You’ll likely finish the paragraph before she starves to death, but it won’t be your best work and it will take too long. Feed the dog, get back to work.
Leave the house
It is really easy to let days pass without leaving the house when you work from home. You get up, do your work, do your house work, watch a little TV and go to bed. This is not good. When it’s been too long since I’ve left the house, my husband warns me that I am in my “silo.” Getting out and interacting with people who are not your family or co-workers is really important. Even if you only make a quick trip to Starbucks or take a walk, it will help. This will certainly be difficult if your neighborhood has been damaged or is flooded, but, if you can, try. It matters.
Eat, but not too much
The people I know who work at home fall into one of two categories. Those who forget to eat all day and those who graze. My mom was the former, I’m the latter. If you tend to get too wrapped up in your work to remember to have lunch, set yourself an alarm or schedule it like a meeting. A bit of protein will go a long way to helping your stamina and mood. For the rest of us who have discovered that having your own fridge and cupboard makes snacking way more appealing that the three-week old rice cakes you can find in the office kitchen, see the first bit of advice and create a space to eat. When you are hungry, go there and eat. Eat in the eating space, work in the work space. Simple.
The ability to work from home has been a huge benefit for me and my family, but it does come with its own set of challenges. I hope you find these tips helpful. As always, our support team is standing by to help with any phone related issues as your recovery begins.