Home Office Rules of Engagement: Coronavirus Edition

It took a pandemic for me to stop working on my latest book and write a blogpost. And it was mainly because this virus has many people telecommuting to work for the first time. Newbies to the sport of “working from home” who are finding being disciplined and diligent away from the office isn’t so easy.

I’ve been working from home full time for around ten years. In that time, I wrote eight novels, one novella, and quite a few personal essays. I took many on-line  classes, worked every single day on writing first drafts and edits of those drafts. I joined writers groups to learn and bond with others in my craft. With my first book release back in 2013,  I  put writing aside and spent time marketing.  As future books released, I had to balance marketing with writing time.

Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without treating my career like any other job. So, if the Coronavirus pandemic has you working from home for the first time and you’re trying to get the hang of it, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

  1. Rise and shine every day like you ARE leaving the house. By that, I mean shower, get dressed (yoga pants count), have breakfast, brush your teeth, and have a designated time to start work by. And live by it, even if your boss isn’t their to give you the evil eye when you’re late.
  2. Make a to-do list. These really can help you stay focused on your  day’s tasks. Heck, even add a few household chores, like tossing in a load of laundry or getting something in the crockpot for dinner. Why not take advantage of the “at home” flexibility factor? I find, if they’re on the list, I won’t forget about them.
  3. Get out of your chair every hour and stretch. At the office you have reasons to get out of your seat, like a walk down the hall to ask a co-worker a question or a trip to the copier. In my home office, a question is usually emailed. And, from my seat, I can stretch my arm to the right and touch my printer/copier. SITTING IS BAD FOR YOUR BACK, and I have the bad back to prove it. But if you set a timer (maybe the one in the kitchen to force you up?) and take a few minutes to do a few simple stretches, your entire body will thank you. There are several listed here. I also have the Calm app on my phone and they have great stretching videos that last between 10-15 minutes.
  4. Give yourself regular breaks. Just like you would at the office. Go out and get lunch. When you get that mid-afternoon desire to nap, either sneak in a ten minute power snooze or–better yet–walk around the block or take out the dog to play a little. Even run a quick errand, like if you hear the local grocery got a shipment of toilet paper or hand sanitizer. But set a time limit and get back to work soon as you can.
  5. Leave your cell phone in another room.  You know why. It’s a distraction.
  6. Set boundaries for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other form of social media. I’m not saying never, because that would be insane. For us at home workers, it’s kind of the virtual water cooler. Try setting a goal before you’ll allow yourself a break. Like I’ll say “When I finish editing two chapters, I can check Facebook and email.” It’s just way too easy to get lost in an hour of social media then look up and wonder how it happened.

I hope these guidelines are a little help. Those of you who are seasoned members of the “At Home Workforce,” do you have any suggestions to add?

 

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