I’ll give it to you straight: I’m no expert on the best ways to be fully-functioning, productive human while working from home.
But after having gotten by for over a year now, I can tell you what works and what doesn’t for me, even though I might not always take my own advice. I also just spend a lot of time alone thinking about how I can better spend my time alone.
If I were an expert, I’d probably lay out these five categories of working from home survival for you. (If I were an expert, this might actually be serious advice.)
– Strong coffee: It’s a lot easier to make your own coffee at home when you’re there all the time. It can even be fun, especially when you have…
– An espresso maker: Did you know how easy it is to make your own lattes? Am I just late to this fancy coffee at home party? Did you know simple syrups are actually simple? Whatever, Martha Stewart.
– Cute mugs: My mugs tell the story of my transition from teenagehood to semi-adulthood, from Elvis infatuation to Hemingway obsession, with woodland creatures thrown in for good measure. And isn’t it just fact that everything tastes better when it’s in a cute mug?
– Planner: I’ve tried a number of ways to keep myself on task day-to-day, from Google reminders to written lists. I’ve recently switched over to a day planner and so far so good. It helps that the planner understands my inner crazy cat woman.
– Reliable wifi: There’s nothing worse than losing internet access in the middle of editing a Google Doc… I don’t know how my WiFi got better but something happened and it seems fine now.
Alert the fashion houses. I’ve developed a new style I like to call “in-between pyjamas and street clothes.” You’ll recognize this season’s designs by their focus on warmth and comfort above any sense of presentability. Noteworthy pieces include sweaters so chunky they’re basically blankets, worn leggings and the ever-chic wool socks.
This new style is also characterized by the presence of outdoor wear such as large scarves and tuques indoors to compensate for the fact that the wearer is home all the time and therefore has to have the heat on all the time but doesn’t want to pay insane power bills.
In all seriousness, anyone who works from home knows that you have to have a space and a desk that’s solely dedicated to working. I’m lucky enough to have a home office now but once upon a time in a smaller apartment, I dedicated half of my bedroom to working space.
The great thing about having a home working space is that you have total control over how it’s decorated without the fear of your coworkers judging you for your tenth doctor Pop figurine or shirtless Hemingway portrait. (Wait. Who has that?)
As great as you make your home office space, sometimes you still have to get out and be among the other humans. This can be in a shared working space (I venture up the hill to Planet Hatch now and then), or your friendly neighbourhood coffee shop (I think the folks at Coffee & Friends are on to the highly guarded secret that I have no life). Really it can be anywhere with the added pressure of at least looking like you’re getting some work done. Societal pressure is real, folks.
Habits (I’m really, really bad at these ones. Do as I say, not as I do.)
– Don’t try to work from bed. Seriously, don’t. No matter how tired you are or how comfortable it is, you won’t be productive and you’ll just end up feeling like a slug with blanket marks on its face. Unless you have mono, in which case all bets on a semblance of humanity are off. (It was a long, dark January.)
– You really should get out of bed at some point before you absolutely need to be signed into Google Hangouts. Even like ten minutes before so you can put the coffee on and change into your “in-between pyjamas and street” clothes.
– Ignore your chores when you’re trying to be productive. I found it very surprising that I’m never distracted from work by fun things like Netflix and books. It’s always that pile of dishes on the counter or layer of dust on the TV stand that I have to stop myself from cleaning. But that’s what evenings and weekends are for. Cleaning.
– Might want to check in with your co-workers once in a while, even if it’s just to find out that you missed a super fun work lunch or pet visit. It will make you feel better about eating last night’s leftovers alone while talking to your plants.
This is an important one. You actually have to make an effort to be around humans, otherwise, you’ll realize one day that you haven’t spoken a word out loud in a week and you’re not even sure if you know how anymore.
Get out of the house on evenings, plan things to fill the weekends. Bug whatever friends are online on Facebook messenger once in a while throughout the day so people know you’re still alive. Maybe even take your friends on work dates to the aforementioned coffee shop so the owners know you’re normal enough that people actually associate with you.
But I can’t tell you how to live.