For a lot of people, the idea of working from home conjures up ideas of sitting on a couch in your jammies daydrinking and eating chips & salsa while watching re-runs of Charmed. And yes, it can be just that wondrous just not always or nothing would get done.
There's truly an art to being able to work effectively from home.
Now that the whole world is at home hiding from COVID-19, a lot of people have to bust out some serious "art" seriously fast. If you've never worked from home, it can take ages to figure out how to do it productively.
This article is here to be your personal Bob Ross and remind you that anyone can be an artist.
One Reddit user asked:
You've got to keep in mind that not everyone's work style is going to be the same, so not every tip may apply to you. Your situation may be entirely different from someone else's. Maybe background music works for you. Maybe you're one of those people who can't have any on because it turns into workeoke and you don't have enough people in the house to provide solid backing vocals for when you do Bohemian Rhapsody. We don't judge. We appreciate your commitment to the high harmony.
In any case, there are a few things here that most of you will probably find useful. Doesn't mean you're going to listen to the experts, though. We get it. Chillin on the couch with a bag of hot cheetos DOES sound like a good time.
Best Use Of Time
Pick a room, close the door, and use noise cancelling headphones. Everything is a distraction when working from home. Suddenly, checking the mail and doing the dishes seems like the best use of your time.
Time To Stop
If there's one thing especially to be disciplined about it the TIME TO STOP WORKING! It's very easy to convince yourself it's ok to keep reading a report because you might just finish it today or to finish making all of the entries because tomorrow will be that much easier or you'll finally be done with a project.
Work at home starts to bleed over into your home non-work time/life very quietly and quickly. Pretty soon it will be a habit. I've worked at home for the last 15 years and got so much more work done but I had to fight hard to win this battle.
Do your usual morning routine and get dressed! Be sitting at your desk by your usual start time and stick to your usual break times. It's tempting to stay in your pyjamas and work from bed but you'll feel much better if you put yourself together each day.
A 20 Year Veteran
I have been working from home for 20 years, since before my first kid was born. It has been great. My biggest habits:
- Have a dedicated space and keep regular hours.
- Make sure your family knows they can't interrupt your work unless the house is on fire.
- Keep a journal so nobody can question your productivity.
- Use your saved commute hours to read the paper in the morning and/or exercise.
- Eat lunch out of your fridge.
- Keep good coffee in the house.
You can actually be more productive at home and live a better life this way, if you stay disciplined.
Instead of standing by the coffee machine or wasting time gabbing in someone's office I take that time and take my dog for a 10 minute walk or play some fetch in the yard, I do some stretches, work on a craft for a few minutes. Staying productive in your "down time" while working from home directly correlates to staying productive during your work time. If you take a 30 minute break to lounge on the couch and eat hot cheetos, you'll be a lot less inclined to get back into the groove of working than if you had taken that time to do something active or productively fun.
Tasks Not Time
Set tasks not time. Don't tell yourself "oh I've been working for X hours [translation: browsing reddit] , I deserve a break". Make a list of what you need to get done and don't give yourself an out till you've gotten it done.
If you can talk to your coworkers on Hangouts / Slack / whatever. Hold each other accountable to your lists.
Set a routine.
I wake up every morning, check my emails, respond to anything urgent, open up all the files I'll be working with for the day.
Then I make coffee.
Then I attend morning meetings, eat breakfast and drink coffee.
Then I take a 20 minute break.
Then it's about an hour of work. Then lunch. I'll usually pop on an episode of the simpsons while I'm making lunch (or big mouth, or disenchanted, or some anime, or whatever)
Then another couple hours of work.
Then afternoon snack.
Another hour of work, then it's time to pick up the kid from school. Bring her home, sit her in front of a movie, and bang out another hour of work.
Then it's quitting time. I shut my laptop and resolve myself to not touch it again until morning.
Yes, it's broken up a lot, but I don't have people hanging over my cube just wanting to "chat".
Not The Couch
I've been working remote for ~8 years now.
You have to have a dedicated work space. Your job happens at your workstation. Not everyone has a spare room or a desk but make it as official as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, work from the couch.
Take an hour to wake up and get moving, have some coffee, do some stretching, read the news, listen to 15-20 minutes of a podcast. Then officially start your work day. You'll really start to appreciate the time you don't have to scramble to get ready.
I don't have an opinion on showering and "dressing up". I shower most mornings but always just wear a t-shirt and joggers.
Take a break and go the fck outside to walk around, try to get at least a mile.
Drink lots of coffee because it's awesome.
Take a 30-45 minute lunch and actually cook a really good lunch. I make a salmon, potato, egg hash every day. I'll pickle some peppers, chop some garlic and really focus on cooking for a few minutes.
Don't feel guilty about taking a few 10-15 minute break. My normal work flow even when I was in the office was 45-50 minutes of actual work and 10 minutes of di*king around.
4:00 work beer
Before you go on your walk and before you start lunch throw in a load of laundry.
Without office and co-worker distractions try to get 6 solid, honest hours of work between when you start and when you finish.
You'll miss it when you have to go back in the office.
Have sht you will get done by a specific time or by the end of the day. Not a "oh I'll do 3 hours of work". No. Get tasks ready or you will get distracted and lose focus.
Also put on some music or something that is not too distracting get comfortable and you may end up getting in a "flow" or "the zone". That is when you really get a ton of work done. You end up doing better than in an office.
24 Hours Of Wear And Tear
My husband I have worked from home since 2002. Something you're going to realize: your house now gets 24 hours of wear and tear. Be extra diligent about cleaning up after yourself and putting things back where they belong, otherwise your house, especially your kitchen, will "silt up" with mess.
If you keep finding yourself on Facebook or reddit (like me when trying to do my online college course) download something like "cold turkey" to block distracting sites during certain time frames. I have 10-15min breaks in my schedule to get some down time, but other than that don't touch social media when I'm supposed to be working. Helped my productivity level a ton!
Don't work from your bedroom. It is meant for sleep not work. You may get tired if you try to work from there.
A Trial Run
I work from home most of the year.
GET UP AND BE GRATEFUL! Wear comfortable clothes and be productive.
This may just be the trial run for tele-work that many people have been hoping for, so shine! Lots of companies have been resistant to it and now have no choice, maybe it could be the norm.
-Set-up a desk-like area, use the same travel mug you normally do!
-Don't turn on the TV and don't work in bed!
-Take breaks and take a lunch.
-If you have pets, enjoy your time with them, this is a perk. It will make you want to work harder to preserve this.
-Keep a log of the tasks that you are getting done, at first managers are more vigilant to be sure that you are working and not slacking. Once you prove that you are working, they tend to back off.
-Stop working at the same time you normally do, don't get sucked in to working late.
-Go outside and take a walk - get some exercise so that you don't get sick of your home.
Communication And Availability
Be available over whatever IM your company uses. Communicate with your co-workers at least as much as you do in the office. Write brief status reports even if nobody is asking for them.
Communication and availability are important to maintain because this is what is most at risk when people aren't in a shared environment.
Status reports are useful to help you maintain focus, but also can help your manager keep track of what's going on with people. If you have daily stand ups, then this isn't necessary. Your managers are going to get asked about how the team is doing in this new environment; give her tools to effectively answer those questions. The best updates are short and frequent; daily and brief, not an essay once a week.
You've Left Work
Start your day exactly the same as of you were going in to work. Get up at the same time, shower, shave, put on real clothes, and eat your usual breakfast. Then 'go' to work and have the same tea and lunch break you usually would. And when the work day finishes, do NOT check your work email or answer work calls. You've left work, you're home now.
It's not every day that we hear about people actually enjoying their jobs.
Right now, in the U.S. there are record numbers of people quitting their jobs. Restaurant workers, hotel workers, retail store workers and healthcare providers have left in droves.
We're also seeing strikes across the nation calling for better working conditions and higher wages. So much so that they're calling it "striketober."
So it's interesting and almost novel to hear someone say they actually enjoy their job. Everyone right now probably wants to know what those jobs are and why they love them so much.
Redditor LordFlick asked:
"People who actually enjoy their job, what do you do for a living?"
Whatever it may be, we want to get a piece of that enjoyment.
Please, please mister postman.
"Royal mail postman in a small rural UK village."
"I love it and have absolutely no fear of doing it for the rest of my life."
"Walking 8 miles a day means I can eat basically what I want and stay lean, and my fitness level is always high. Also no managers breathing down my neck, and I make friends with lots of nice elderly people."
"This sounds so wholesome! I'm so jealous."
"I am impressed at how well you sell the job."
"I'm a residential window washer, and I think we love our jobs for the same reasons."
Cemetery grounds keeper.
"I take care of a cemetery. Every day is different and it's pretty much a nature preserve (we treat it like that anyways). You end up sorta taking ownership of it so you sort of 'want' it to look good. It's nice choosing what you do for the most part, and seeing lasting results."
"Also the residents rarely complain, great low maintenance tenants."
"Eh they only come out once a year."
"It's quite lovely when you go to visit a loved ones' grave and the gardens and surroundings are beautiful and well kept. To me, it's a real show of respect for the people resting there. Thank you."
"Did this for 7 years before moving over to another department with the city that was in need of management. I loved working at the cemetery. And you're right, it was my cemetery, I was responsible for everything there, and I wanted it to look the best it could. The best part was the compliments from the towns people for taking care of it properly."
Getting paid to think.
"Physician scientist. Sometimes I see patients. Most of the time I do science. I get paid to think about stuff. It's great."
"Oil exploration geophysicist. Most of the time I get paid to use science and my imagination to map the geometry of rock formations beneath the Earth's surface. I get paid to have an imagination. Companies trust me enough to drill million dollar wells to test my ideas. It's great."
Truck driver turned gardener.
"Gardener. I was a truck driver for a decade. 15 hour days, sleeping on the side of the road, the whole week away from home and all for sh*tty pay.
Decided I needed a change so I started a gardening business. I earn 2-3x more money than I did driving trucks, I get to work in nature all day every day, I get to pick what work I do. Don't get good vibes from a customer....turn the job down. Don't like a garden.....turn it down. I don't have to take sh*t from anyone. I get to do work I enjoy."
"I pick my own schedule. Get to wake up with the kids everyday, come home for lunch and get to read a bedtime story to the kids every night. When I was trucking I'd go all week without seeing the kids. Gone from working 15 hour days to 7-8 hour days and lost 100lbs in the process."
"Same here! (except instead of truck driving, I was working sh*tty office jobs) but man, you summed it up perfectly! becoming a self-employed gardener is the best decision I've ever made. At first I was nervous to make the complete career change and start a new business, but I'm so happy I did and I've never looked back."
"Its great isn't it. You get stuck in a career path and think this is what I'll have to do forever. Glad I decided to force a change."
Gelato taste tester.
"I'm a manager at a gelato/coffee shop! Though customers can be a lot and rushes can be stressful, I work with a great crew and get to sample the new flavors my boss tests and makes each week. He will bust out from the back with a spoon full of a new flavor of gelato and say, 'Try this.' So I guess I'm also a taste tester!"
"The best job I had before getting into my career was a server at a little mom & pop gelato shop in my city's Little Italy. I still reminisce sometimes about that summer!"
A positive perspective on education.
"High school teacher. 10 years. Despite many criticisms for the profession, I love my job. I get paid decent. I have great interactions with students every day. On my feet learning, feeling, engaged, and get goosebumps when a kid makes a cool connection (us history/American government teacher)."
"Doing my student teaching next year. Happy to hear a positive perspective for a change. Thanks!"
"Accountant. I know it's the epitome of a boring office job, but it works for my aptitudes and interests. Lucrative, stable, predictable, engaging but I don't take it home with me."
"Do you work like 60 hours a week? I am in a big4 and know personally that accountants can make big bucks. But they don't have the time to enjoy their earned money."
"I work at a big4 and within the year I work on average 40h/week - slightly more during q1, less during q3. Work/life balance is great, salary is above my country's average and I really like my job."
Maybe you'd be happier with more stability. Maybe you'd be happy with more freedom.
Everyone has different reasons for loving or hating their jobs, but it might take a few tries before you find the right fit. Don't be afraid to make the change. It may be scary, but your happiness is worth it.
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Nobody is better than anybody else. Why is that such a difficult concept for so many people? One person doesn't get a pass for certain things that another person would be scolded for "just because."
Even in family dynamics, double standards are at play. Why should sons get a later curfew than daughters? Why can't a man vacuum? HOW are we still having these conversations?
It's time to break down the constructed hierarchies that have been imposed upon society. Let's get it all out there, so that we're all aware, so we can do better.
Redditor u/WistfulNightSky wanted to discuss the most unfair issues we all face on the daily, by asking:
What double standard are you tired of?
One of the worst places where double standards are constant is in the hospitality industry.
Take my time...email GIFGiphy
"My principal taking days to read and reply to my emails, if ever, VS me being told at 8 in the morning that I should have known something because he sent me an email at 10 in the evening the night before."
"Politicians who come up with dumb to asinine laws, and vigorously enforce them upon all of the regular citizens, but somehow find ways to exempt themselves from being subject to the same obligations to keep and follow them, as we are."
"Easy. Big corporations and the rich, using legal bribing through lobbying to "bend" the rules in their favor more and more as time passes."
"Defending yourself. The fact that someone can punished for defending themselves when no one else would, in my experience worse, is bullsh*t to me. Example a former bullied kid that punched back and got screwed."
"In my case, I got beaten up, didn't retaliate at all. Bully had rich parents who supported the school. So I was the one who got in trouble as I allegedly swore and instigated it, meaning him beating the crap out of me was apparently self-defense."
"Speed limit laws bother me the most on this. You're telling me, on a road on which there are no cyclists or pedestrians, that I have to drive 25mph, but the mayor can drive 40mph to a press conference that he's late to and abuse the privilege of a police escort. See: NYC Vision Zero.
"They also use this law to increase red light cameras. For further context: in NYC a yellow light means "slam your brakes now"/"stop now" more than it does "slow down"/prepare to stop as it does in other parts of the country. Meanwhile a counter study (I will try to find he source later) showed that increasing the length of a yellow light by something absurd like one or two seconds would decrease the amount of red light violations significantly more effectively because people would have adequate time to stop while still allowing for a flow of traffic."
"Obviously, it's all a money grab. Meanwhile the mayor regularly is caught on camera flaunting this traffic regulation when he finds it inconvenient. It's infuriating. NYC has enough congestion as it is, so knee-capping people when they can finally move is just insulting."
Finding the BestJob GIFGiphy
"Entry level jobs" that require experience."
"They think it weeds out the ones with no experience, but it just gives them candidates who are prepared to exaggerate or lie."
How does one acquire experience without being given a chance to earn it? Quite the conundrum.
Check the ClockSeth Meyers Time GIF by Late Night with Seth MeyersGiphy
"Your boss getting angry if you're a couple minutes late but then expects you to have no problem regularly staying on 2+ hours after your shift is meant to end."
"To borrow from Matt Haig: people being ok with mental illness until someone shows symptoms of one."
"100%. People like to talk about being cool with it, act all understanding, and then get super hostile if someone with untreated mental illness shows up. They don't mind it when they can't see it, but can't handle it when they actually see it in action."
All out Assault
"Customers being able to verbally and sometimes physically assault workers while the worker just has to stand there and take it or they'll be fired."
Nurse here. Almost every single one of my colleagues has been physically assaulted at some point in their career. We are often discouraged by upper management not to press charges or contact the police. We're also often asked what we could have done differently."
In my Mouth
"Why is dental insurance different from "health insurance" aren't teeth part of my overall health wth!!"
"The dentist lobby game is strong. They've pushed for decades to not be considered part of the health industry and they've banked because of it. Sure I understand it's a specialty, but my teeth are attached to my skull."
The Bad Dipper
"My boss dipping out on a Thursday afternoon to go get messed up at the golf course, but i ask for one Friday off every few months and he's like AAHHH CMON MAN I NEED YOU TO BE A TEAM PLAYER!!"
Nows we know better. I hope. Be a better boss and a better person. So we can be a better society.
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I'm going to say something sad but true. Love is not destined for everybody. Read that back a few times. Take a deep breath and embrace it. There are other things in life besides falling in love and staying in love forever.
For starters, acknowledge other kinds of love in family, friends, or self. There isn't one definitive answer that puts you in the single category.
We have to stop seeing being single as a death sentence or a punishment. A lot of people embrace the freedom and solitude. We should be seeking advice from them more often.
Let's talk about the current state of being single in this dysfunctional world of relationships.
Redditor u/One_Sherbert_2797 wanted to hear from the lovelorn and relationship searching, or happily alone, by asking:
Why are you single?
I am single. I am out of shape, so I'm uncomfortable and I trust no one in this Covid world. There are other reasons but those are the big two.
I'm LostYeah I Guess Season 2 GIF by ScreamQueensGiphy
"Because I'm clueless when it comes to dating or even asking someone out."
I just can't...
"Yeah, I like the idea of being in a relationship, but the thought of how much effort and potential pain I'd have to go through to find someone and maintain a relationship just makes me not want to even try. I don't want to be alone forever but being alone is so much safer and easier, you know?"
"I don't understand people very well so I don't try to find anyone. It often feels like everyone else had a few extra days in school to learn a new language and I just missed it all. I'm not sure if one day I'll figure it out but at this point it doesn't seem likely I'll spontaneously develop and understanding of human emotion and communication."
"Because I am totally in love with someone who will probably never feel the same way about me. I have actually told him already and he says he has feelings for me too, but he is not ready for a relationship and I don't think he ever will be. We have a history even though we were never together and I just think that we would have ended up together by now if it was in the cards."
"Damn same. Moving on is a pain. If you've already told them and gotten rejected, then I wish you the best with the process. If you've not, take the leap friend. If you don't it'll be a constant what-if for you for as long as you know them."
The ZoneLonely Lamorne Morris GIF by New GirlGiphy
"I'm in the zone where the women I'm attracted to aren't attracted to me and I'm not attracted to the women who are attracted to me. T'is a painful existence."
Get in a different zone. That is lesson one. Try it all from a different angle, it'll bring a fresh perspective.
Just CuzSeason 5 Happy Dance GIF by FriendsGiphy
"Because why not. Person reading this, why do we place a lot more value on romantic relationships than with platonic friendships?"
The Bonds that Break
"Just never happened tbh. (24, never have had a girlfriend) I don't have problems forming a connection and a bond with women, but I do think I may spend too much time just enjoying the feeling of a genuine friendship that I kinda forget to make a move and they end up either finding someone else or assuming I'm not interested. That and everyone just wants to blast through everything so quickly nowadays, like at times it feels like if you aren't DTF or have made a proper "move" by the end of the week then it's over, even when you have just met the person. It's obnoxious."
"I was intoxicated by love, chose the wrong person, ignored the warning signs and checked all the relationship boxes - marriage, child, house. Unfortunately, marriage didn't mean as much to the person I chose as it does to me. A family was all I ever wanted. My only goal, man."
we all do this...
"...you can't swing the sword without letting your shield down. When you make to grab your chance you always open yourself up to failure. It's okay. everyone gets rejected... and in the end no one cares... we all do this... ask her out or the regret will kill you. Do it enough times and you got a gf."
I need a Map
"I have no idea how dating works."
"I believe there's different ways of going about it. One is the slow way which is start off purely as friends and see if something more develops. The other is to directly ask the person out. In both cases the goal is to talk and do meaningful things together."
"Go to dinner, hang out and watch a movie, play sports or video games together. The goal is to find common ground or areas of interest and see if being together is better than not being together. Get to know the other person and along the way get to know yourself."
"If you like what you see, keep doing things together. My wife would try new things with me or for me and that is one of the things I love about her; I dated a girl before her that wouldn't and I chose to end that relationship in large part because of that. Even if you don't want to pursue the person romantically, hopefully you've ended up with a good friend."
Alone not LonelySaturday Night Live Nbc GIF by HULUGiphy
"I like being single."
"Same. Love. It."
Why is it all so complicated? Or do we just make it that way? Maybe cheers to being single.
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I just can't with some people. Well, to be honest, I just can't with most people.
I often just don't have the time, or the mental and emotional bandwidth to figure most people out.
Too many of us are just cemented in our ways. And that can be a turn-off to the rest of the world. I've lost track of the number of conversations I've had where I couldn't connect with a person because they refuse to try.
Redditor u/RTGac wanted to have a conversation about some folks we encounter throughout life, by asking:
What sorts of folks do you refuse to take seriously?
I stay out of any and all political conversations online these days. That is a group (mob) of people who I can't take seriously, because they have lost the thread. And it's coming from all sides.
Service ConcernsArrested Development Do Not Want GIFGiphy
"People who treat customer service like trash."
"Customer service who treat people like trash."
I AM THIS
"People that base their whole identity on one thing."
"Especially when they have no personal contribution to said thing, aka Super Fans. A person who lives and breathes for swimming or cooking or some other activity that requires skill is totally different from somebody who just obsessed over a show or Fandom or whatever bullcrap."
Behind the Curve
"Oh there's definitely at least 100. They have conventions and crap. But yeah still the minority. There is a very fun and interesting documentary about them called Behind the Curve which I recommend if you're interested."
The worst part?
"Anti-vaxxers, anti-masks, holocaust deniers and more recently, "gravity deniers". These people makes me lose faith in humanity sometimes. They think the force of gravity was invented, or just doesn't exist. It resonates with some flat-earthers... the concept of gravity is correlated with a spherical planetary mass with a force pulling everything to the ground (center of the mass)."
"To the earth be plane, some believe that what keeps our feet on the ground is bc this plate is always moving upwards. The worst part? I know all this freaking disgraceful bull. Somehow I lost to them by occupying my already small brain with this crap."
Question Peopletinder swiping GIFGiphy
"At what point can someone be seen as a "redditor"? I use it a lot but I don't consider it to be a part of my identity whatsoever. It's just an app I use to pass time. I rarely talk about it to anyone."
Oh reddit. You are a quirky beast aren't you? And customer service, there is so much vitriol being thrown about, I'm opting to just stay home.
All about You!Pick Me Season 10 GIF by RuPaul's Drag RaceGiphy
"People who think that the fact they have problems negate the fact that others have problems. Shockingly, many types of problems can exist simultaneously."
"People who get their news off social media. I mean more the people who will take social media as gospel. I will hear things and do research outside of social media to hear the actual information. And even then it's all from biased perspectives. So I read both lmao. Fox and CNN so I can get both sides"
"I do, but before i tell anyone about it I search for the whole article online so that I don't accidentally lie to my loved ones."
"People who won't even try to think about how other people feel about things wether it be political, religious or just something petty and instead act like their world view is the correct one. Reddit can be a bit of echo chamber for any and all political/social beliefs. Some sub Reddit's get banned just because they are too right wing or too left wing and I'm totally against that crap people should be able to say what they want unless it's threats of violence. Reddit ain't perfect when it comes to to censorship."
"Oh, must be nice"
"There's also the people you know who are always broke or in heavy debt and can't afford anything. Who always sarcastically scoff "Oh, must be nice" when you mention you went on a vacation or bought yourself something new, because they suck at finances and can't let others enjoy themselves."
For Sure!Angry Excuse Me GIF by JinGiphy
"People who are 100% sure about literally anything, and 1-uppers you know the people who always have or did or something the same as you or someone else but better somehow."
Wow there are a ton of messy humans running amok. Is it any wonder why the rest of us drink? And I loathe 1-uppers. I had to say that!