artwork by Michelle Haas
It's been over a month since I posted.
A lot has happened in that month—not all of it positive. In times like these, writing positively can seem almost impossible, but there is joy and humor to be found in navigating the "home, sweet home" office.
Here are some simple tricks for anyone working remotely, while sheltering in place during our time of social distancing.
Find the joy. Find the humor.
Finding the joy and humor in your home office
2. Claim a space. Create your own private corner in which to work, even if it's in a spare closet of an unused bedroom. Avoid trying to work in common areas potentially needed by "co-workers" for television viewing, eating, sleeping, etc. Assume someone, at any time, may invade such areas (during filming of TikTok video featuring family dog lip-synching "Don't Stand So Close to Me").
3. Create a schedule. It's important to set a schedule for yourself, even if it's a loose list of manageable goals (alphabetizing query rejection letters). Without a plan, you're more likely to get distracted by the news or laundry or the third 1000-piece puzzle you've started on the kitchen table in the past two weeks.
4. But be flexible. Just as you should set a schedule, recognize that your co-workers are seeing a significant change in their own daily routine, as well, and may need some of your time (to build the blanket fort in the living room using the couch, two chairs, and every pillow and bedspread in the house). Remote workers with children may need to stretch the business day out, with family time built in every couple hours, as needed.
5. Communicate schedule to co-workers. Be they your 8-year-old daughter, elderly mother, or temporarily-out-of-work hubby, make sure your Corona roommates understand when you are working. Give them boundaries (crime scene tape across office door) and make it clear when you are unavailable (to play Mario Cart for the 30th time in 24 hours).
6. Take breaks and move. Take frequent breaks to clear your head and stretch. A home office should have a proper office chair, but many of the thrown together Corona home offices offer not-so-ergonomically-correct furniture. Save the back and get up and move (to Dance, Dance, Revolution with toddler) or take a quick run (to the corner mart for more toilet paper).
7. Eat meals with co-workers. Don't be tempted to breeze through lunch with just a yogurt at your desk. Whether you set aside the computer long enough to eat (the 25th box of Mac 'n Cheese) with your child or you Zoom a real co-worker with whom you'd normally share lunch (Wine Wednesday), it's good for both body and mind to take a noonday break and re-fuel.
8. Leave work at the office. When you've had enough, turn off the computer and shut down your home office properly, so you can fully flip the switch and engage with your co-workers/roommates. You need that (happy hour while bing-watching "Modern Family") and so do they.
9. Enjoy a day off. When almost all of your hours in a week are spent in the same space, it can be hard to fully disengage from the home office. Don't forget to take a day off—FULLY—and engage in non-work-related activities in your home (family fashion show with old prom dresses/bridesmaid gowns).
Best of luck finding the joy and humor in your home, sweet home office!
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