Amidst the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, your company might have instituted a work from home policy.
Not used to working from home? For some of you, it’s what you’ve been craving. (Even if it’s coming under the wrong circumstances.)
For others, it’s your worst work nightmare.
A few tips to make it work for you in the coming weeks, whichever camp you fall into:
Define WFH success for yourself
Ask yourself what you really want this time to be about. Is it using this opportunity to knock out projects that require a lot of focus? Is it proving to your boss that you can handle working from home even after this has passed? Or — if you’re being honest — is it using this opportunity to do the bare minimum and be okay with that?
Whatever you decide, commit to it and like your decision. Don’t hold yourself to a standard that you don’t intend to meet and then beat yourself up.
Decide ahead of time what parameters you’ll set for yourself
Sweats or no? Netflix midday or only after 6pm? Taking advantage of the ability to put in a load of laundry during the day or nah? People love to give “one size fits all” advice on this kind of thing, but I recommend that you generate your own decisions. (I give this advice while wearing workout clothes…)
Rework your commute time
Decide how you’ll use your extra time that you normally spend commuting. Will you use it to put extra hours into your job, to pursue personal projects that you’ve put on the back burner, or to catch up on sleep? Again, decide ahead of time, and like your decision.
Practice your ideal habits
Consider using this as an opportunity to practice habits that you’d like to keep up in the office. Want to train yourself to focus for an hour at a time? Practice with fewer in-person distractions. Want to be a more effective written communicator who sets expectations clearly? Practice on Slack. Want to start and end meetings on time? Practice with yourself, with your scheduled work blocks. Want to be able to say no to eating when there’s food available? Practice with your fridge.
Focus on what you can control
Who sends you emails and when, conferences being cancelled, and clients bailing on meetings is not in your control. Focus your attention on what you can control instead — your routine, your focus, and your work ethic — and allow the rest to be as chaotic as it needs to be right now.
Without the separation of a commute, some people feel like their work bleeds into their personal life and vice versa. Set working hours and scheduled breaks for yourself, then stick to them.
Consider setting up two kinds of virtual get-togethers:
- “Walk and talks”: Turn a scheduled phone call into a walking meeting so that you can get some fresh air and get your blood pumping. I recommend asking the other person if they’re comfortable with you taking the call while on a walk, then putting in headphones that don’t pick up a lot of background noise and pulling up Evernote so that you can jot down any action items or ideas as you walk.
- Remote coworking sessions: Get a group of friends or coworkers together on Zoom video. Set a timer for 15 minutes and walk through my method for getting into a deep work state, step by step. Do a quick round robin where you each share what result you’ll have by the end of an hour, then set a timer for 60 minutes, mute yourselves, and go heads down for the hour, checking in at the end for accountability. Repeat as needed.