Apr 4, 2020 | Working from Home: Tips and Tricks
How Work Has Changed Ever Since the Corona Crisis Broke Out
The corona crisis stirred the job market and changed the workflow in companies around the world. In these circumstances, businesses are moving online and as professionals, we need to adapt and become efficient remote workers. This article lists a few functional strategies for achieving good results while working from home.
How Working From Home Differs From Working From the Office
Firstly, the difference between working from the office and working from home is mental rather than physical. At the end of the day, most of us were used to do sedentary work and collaborated through emails and other media even before the crisis.
Today, organizing a progress meeting online is not an issue. There are only rare occasions when the productivity at such an online meeting becomes considerably lower than the “traditional” face-to-face gathering. For this reason, while working from home, your working schedule does not need to be much different from working from the office.
We can often be even more productive while working from home since we do not need to commute anymore. This should spare between 30 and 120 minutes per working day. For most people, commuting time is this limbo during the day when you neither work, nor exercise, nor relax.
If you bike to your workplace, you can count this time as a physical exercise. But if you walk or commute by public transportation, you won’t get much fitter. Plus, you need to keep your attention to what happens around you on the way which makes it harder to relax. For most people, the lack of necessity to commute is a blessing!
So, why is working from home so hard? Firstly, it is because you lose the mundane, everyday contact with people. Chatting to others — even if it is just a casual, counterproductive small talk with a nosy colleague by the coffee machine — is beneficial for our sense of belonging in the long run. Without these everyday little personal contacts in the workplace, from exchanging smiles in the corridor to birthday greetings and little celebrations, one can slowly descend into depression.
How To Work When You Can’t Compare?
Secondly, it is hard to work from home because you lose the baseline for comparing your behavior and/or performance with other people. Comparing is natural; we subconsciously do it all the time. For instance, would you be concerned that taking a lunch break for the whole hour is too long and counterproductive? Well, if you notice that all your coworkers take the same lunch break (as this is a common habit in your workplace), you probably wouldn’t have these concerns.
When working from home, you can’t watch in real-time what other people on the team are currently doing. It can generate a sense of guilt and an impression that you never really do enough.
Lastly, working from home is hard because at home, you need to face more temptations than usual. No one is looking at you from behind your shoulders to check whether or not you are working. The dopamine generators like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, or YouTube, are all there, smiling at you from the open tabs in your browser. The fridge full of tasty food is nearby. The sunshine behind the window makes you think that it is a perfect moment to do some gardening or to take a walk in the park.
How To Deal With Your New Life As an Employee Working From Home?
How to overcome all these issues? Well, there are many solutions you can consider. The obvious ones are, among others:
- Creating a home office, with a clean desk and a minimal amount of items and distractors around,
- Experimenting with various working schedules,
- Making sure that your working- and sleeping hours are regular,
- Eating well,
- Exercising regularly (btw, in times of the corona crisis, there are lots of good free online training programs such as Natalia Vtuyrina’s stretching class).
But, there are also more non-obvious (mental) tricks that are equally important. Sticking to these rules can make a difference between descending into a feeling of imprisonment and apathy, and a true blast while working from home.
1. Spare Mercy For Others
People who can successfully carry on with working in isolation usually have double standards for empathy. It sounds counterintuitive. However, to stay in command of your life while working from home, you need to treat yourself worse than you would normally treat other people.
Namely, what happens if you are not hard on yourself, and you let yourself rest every time it feels right? In such cases, your mind will soon create more and more reasons to complain and to take breaks. Therefore, in situations when you would recommend someone who works for you (or your student) to rest — as they feel tired, dizzy, demotivated, or ill — you need to tell yourself to shut up and continue working instead.
2. Forgive Yourself
At the same time, you need to be able to forgive yourself. With working from home it is like with keeping a diet. If you happen to break your own rules and cheat one day, you need to put yourself together as fast as possible and come back to the diet routine on the very next day. Rather than dropping the diet completely or promising to yourself that you will get back on the diet after “just one more cheat day.”
3. No News
While working from home, you are more vulnerable to depression and other mental problems. You can catch yourself looking into the mirror more often and searching for the first wrinkles, thinking about passing time or the meaning of life way more often than before. Therefore, it is important to be selective about the information that you let into your head.
Plus, to avoid putting any seeds of negative thoughts in your mind. Avoiding the daily news is, in general, a good strategy as TV news is usually a compilation of catastrophes, deaths, quarrels in the parliament, and potential threats.
Plus, people who achieved something – from politicians, through artists, to entrepreneurs – are usually pictured in a bad light on the media. They are either shown as greedy, empty inside, sociopathic, or stupid.
How can you get anywhere with your career if you are conditioned to think that all the successful people are evil? Let your family and friends filter the information for you! If important events are going on in the world, they will call you and tell you about it.
Not mentioning that media creates the dopamine addiction. You load your working memory with snippets of information which gives you little rewards and clutters your mind. You are not productive anymore.
Do you still feel like you need to check the evening news? Well, do it once a day, rather than once an hour or once every five minutes. Your productivity as well as the overall level of happiness will instantly increase.
4. Mastermind Group
It’s also worth to create yourself a mastermind group. Contact 2-4 other people who also work from home and who are at similar career stages as you. These people do not necessarily need to be your closest coworkers. It’s more than enough if they should wish you well, have a similar type of job, and be highly motivated. It is good to have pacemakers and induce a bit of friendly peer pressure. Therefore, it is advisable to check in online regularly (e.g., once a week), monitor the progress, and brainstorm in a group.
Working from home is a test for multiple relationships. Are your friends going to make an active effort to reach out to you and talk to you online? Are your coworkers going to stick to the deadlines and help you in completing projects in time once you don’t have the face-to-face contact anymore? Once you start working from home, your perception of multiple relationships with other people might change for good. You will be positively surprised about some of them, while others might heavily disappoint you.
But, one relationship is put under a particularly hard test in this situation. It is your relationship with yourself. Do you even like yourself? Do you want good for yourself? Are you assertive? Do you believe in yourself? Or, rather, will you sabotage your own goals? When you look into the mirror in the morning, do you have a strong feeling that you want to help this person go forward in life? Do you need thumbs up from your boss every day to feel good? Or, do you do what you do because you genuinely feel that this is the best way of spending your time?
Many people believe that the key to effectively work from home is to create a system of little rewards and please yourself after completing every chunk of work. However, if you really need to reward yourself for working, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself a question. Do you actually have a plan for the project? Is your project well planned and divided into manageable pieces? Does this project fit into your long-term career plans? As then, making the next step should be a reward in itself.
Do You Practice Working From Home?
So, if you want good for yourself and if you have a plan, it will not matter anymore if there is sunshine or thunderstorm behind the window. Or, if you receive feedback for your work, or whether or not other people help you with your projects. You will just sit down, open your laptop, and proceed with your journey no matter what. One step at a time. Day by day. Always forward.
So, as much egocentric as this sounds, it is advisable to smile to yourself in the morning. Bring back a few warm thoughts about what you like in yourself, and why you wish yourself the best.
These pieces of advice might sound trivial. However, especially for people coming from academia, this might be actually hard. Academics are taught that we should not think too good of ourselves. That we have to accept a lot of inconvenience and hardship in daily life and be proud that our sweat, blood, and tears (might) serve the humanity. Whereas at the end of the day, self-love is the only way to keep yourself going regardless of the circumstances.
If you know of any other strategies that are highly effective, please drop your comments below. Good luck with working form your home office!
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Please cite as: Bielczyk, N. (2020, April 4th). Working from Home: Tips and Tricks. Retrieved from http://ontologyofvalue.com.com/all-posts/self-management-tools-and-strategies/working-from-home-tips-and-tricks/
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