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The Definitive Guide to Working From Home

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Take notes from a shut-in

Coronavirus In Canada Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

Alrighty, fellow recluses. Unless you’re doing the lord’s work as a doctor or pizza delivery guy, the odds are you’re reading this from the comfort of your home as the whole world grapples with a pandemic.

While I’ve only been a contributing member of society for a few short years, the vast majority of my baker’s dozenish jobs have entailed remote work. From 100% working offsite, to work-from-home Friday’s, I’ve probably spent as much time curled up in front of a word processor on my couch/floor as I have in an actual office.

So I’m basically an expert when it comes to social distancing, either by choice or force.

Take it from me: if you want to hold on to any semblance of productivity (or sanity) while you’re trapped at home for the next fortnight, taking the following steps are an absolute must:

1. Pants

This is, without a doubt, the most important thing I’m going to tell you. If you’re going to being working from home all day, you have to start things off as if you were going into the office. That means: showering, shaving, putting on pants and fixing yourself something to eat.

I’ve found that staying in sweats all day leads to the same mental fog I had as an undergrad who spent the previous six evenings on a barstool at Airliner. If you can smell yourself in your own home, you’re doing it very wrong.

B. Lock out distractions

If possible, do your work in a room that doesn’t have a TV. Try and keep snacks more than an arms length away. No video games, no Netflix, no empty calories. This goes for pets, too. It may hurt, but lock Odie and Garfield away, otherwise the call for pets and scratches will be too hard to ignore.

In this same vein, I’ve found that sitting at a desk or countertop to be almost as important as the above. Beds are made for sleeping, couches for couching and recliners for reclining. Much work doesn’t get done on the above three in my experience.

iii. Be productive outside of work, while at work

When you’re waiting for emails to come through or deals to close, find something to do that doesn’t entail browsing reddit. Doing laundry, cleaning out the fridge, scrubbing the toilet, replacing lightbulbs. Tidying up your home is incredibly important to your own mental health, and working in a clean and put-together space makes the job a whole lot easier.

V. Give yourself something to look forward to

This is pretty much the only thing I enjoy about the WFH experience. Being able to do things during the day that you normally reserve for weekends or hours outside 9-5. Unless you work for Facebook, most employers will give you the lunch hour to do with whatever you wish. Since you’re already at home, you don’t really need to take that hour.

Having a small reward to work towards to break up your day can do wonders for your productivity. Here’s how I like to spend that hour (hint: you can generally get away with taking 90 minutes).

  • Going to the gym. I think a daytime workout is the best time to get a sweat in.
  • Grocery shopping. As a Chicago resident, weekend trips to the grocery store are an absolute nightmare. Going during the day removes lines and includes fully-stocked shelves—though I can’t guarantee either of those things given the current state of... things.
  • The driving range. Self-explanatory.
  • I haven’t had a car in years, but if I did, I’d probably take this time to get it washed/maintained.
  • Actually getting lunch. If there’s a food spot that’s usually packed on the weekends or weeknights, the best time to be a faux foodie is during the lunch hour on a weekday. I’ve found that some of the more hoighty-toighty eateries have a lunch menu with the same items as its dinner offerings, but at a lower price, too.

X. Background noise

I’m not the kind of person who can work in complete silence. If you’re alone at home, being able to turn on a podcast or your favorite music helps make the time pass and keeps you from getting tunnel vision. I love podcasts, but can’t really do much writing when there’s people talking around me. I’ve found the perfect mix of chillpop and French trap that keeps my writing 100 emoji.

1. Pants

Don’t just put em on. Read em. The Gold-plated, black-hearted kind.