The idea of working from home has always been a glamorized one. Rolling out of bed whenever you’d like, sitting poolside with your favorite drink at noon. Man! That sounds like a day anyone would enjoy. Especially if you find yourself working for a company that you may not particularly like physically going to. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen corporations big and small come to a major halt due to COVID-19. Businesses have essentially locked their doors and are requiring employees to work from home. While some may have been excited, others are realizing that working from home is not for everyone.
I grew up in a family business and was accustomed to working for long hours at my desk. I had an innate discipline that helped me stay glued to my seat and maybe a little too much. But as times changed and opportunities arose for me to work from home, I realized that I had to implement some different habits at home than that of my former office space. For those of you that are new to “working from home,” here are a few tips I’ll share with you to help you in your transition.
- Pick a Designated Work Area
When I started working from home, I thought I could sit on my bed, spread out documents and my laptop and have at it. Well, I soon found that I would start off sitting up, legs crossed and attentive, then progressively move into a slouched position, followed by a full-on fetal position with complete attention on the television while my computer and papers were strewn off to the edge of the bed. Talk about a reality check. After being in denial about the obvious distractions, I opted to get an actual desk with a chair and sit there. I went from papers all over the house to everything being in one central location. The desk and chair in a designated part of the house started me off with the structure I need to work efficiently.
- Structure Your Time
This is a must. Try to keep the same hours you had when you were physically going to work. Working from home can be one of the biggest distractions there is. From the television to the kitchen to the laundry and even YOUR BED! These are all things that will beg for your attention during the times you should be working. When I first started working from home, my house seemed magical. It just had a different feeling on Wednesday at 11 am than a Saturday or Sunday at 11 am did. If you don’t structure your time you won’t get anything done. The great thing about going to work is that your office was, for the most part, a space designated purely for work. It pretty much shaped how you worked and to what degree. Your home is usually considered a place for rest and relaxation – a place you escape to. So, understand your brain is going to need some slight rewiring and some patience.
- Take Your Breaks
‘In the workforce, breaks are mandated. According to Psychology Today, “A ‘break’ is a brief cessation of work, physical exertion, or activity. You decide to give it a rest with the intention of getting back to your task within a reasonable amount of time.” Did you know that sitting for long periods of time is said to put you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity? Simply stepping away from your desk and taking a walk, stretching or some form of activity can reduce the negative effects of too much sitting. If you have other individuals in the house, taking breaks affords you the opportunity to connect with them and shift your mind from any stressful thinking you may be engaged in.
- Create an End Time
Knowing when to start working is just as important as knowing when to stop. When I initially started working from home, I found that when I got into a good flow, it was hard to stop. So, I wouldn’t. I would sit from 7 am until 11 pm at times with minimal breaks. I was determined to ride out the wave of productivity, sometimes working beyond midnight. My dad would always encourage me not to work past the midnight hour because I was cheating myself out of the next day. He was right. Pushing yourself beyond an established cut off point can lead to burnout quickly. Ultimately, it’s about setting boundaries with yourself. Give it your all within the time allotted and then stop. Put all your focus and energy into the hours you set, the same way you did when you physically clocked in at work. When you’re done – then you’re done. Save work for the next day. There will ALWAYS be something to do. Time is the one thing we cannot replace. Remember to unplug and regroup.
Chida Rebecca is editor-in-chief of Black & Magazine, San Diego’s only digital Black lifestyle magazine (www.blackandmagazine.com).