Like a lot of Americans and others worldwide, I am currently working from home in the wake of the COVID-19 or Coronavirus pandemic.
“Working” is a term I am using lightly, though, because I work in retail. I’m not using this in the sense that I am calling clients from the living room or adjusting accounts.
For context, I work at a store located within the mall area of a local casino.
At the time of writing this post, the casino itself has shut down for a period of two weeks, though I am expecting it will be longer than that. The store I work for is not owned by the casino (while a majority of the stores are) and while they have closed all of their locations nationwide, they have not released an expected reopening date. I’m anticipating that our location will reopen when the casino does.
Because of this, I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands that I’ve been trying to dedicate to various aspects of my writing life like catching up on blog stuff, making progress with Forged in the Salle, and finishing up the first round of edits on Bound to the Heart. I’ve been saying this is a taste of what my life will be like when I am more established in this career and able to write full-time.
The problem is, I’ve been feeling like I’m failing to accomplish any of that. Having so much time on my hands has made me less productive in some ways because there’s that unconscious ability to put things off until later.
Sure, I can watch one more YouTube video before getting started on this.
Maybe I should make myself a snack before starting that. But I don’t want to get popcorn butter all over my keyboard so I might as well hit that “Next Episode” button.
Escapism is a necessity. Time to fire up The Sims and live out life as a mermaid with my vampire dreamboat of a husband.
Whereas being able to go to work means I have less time and need to make the most of it. It’s easier for me to get things done in an hour when I only have that one hour.
As I’m sure a lot of us are right now, I’ve been trying to settle into a more productive way of doing things, and I wanted to take some time to share some of the tips I’ve found to be the most helpful when having to work from home.
Setting A Schedule (And Sticking To It)
If you’re like me, when you do go to your job, you’re there for a set period. When you’re there, say, working something like a 12-8 shift, you’re not lollygagging or dawdling. You’re doing the job you were hired for and are getting paid to do.
The same goes for working from home.
It can be super tending to take this as a chance to sleep in or kick back and catch up on that Netflix series everybody’s been talking about, or to try and finally beat that boss level in whatever video game you’ve been tackling on your days off.
Setting up a specific schedule for yourself can make you more productive. The most important part, and the most challenging part, is adhering to that.
Don’t Let Yourself Get Distracted
I am a culprit of this one. I find it’s difficult to work in complete silence. Sometimes I’ll pop some music on, but I’ll often turn to YouTube videos. While this might be a white noise video like rainfall or a cafe, it’s often a Let’s Play from one of my favorite channels.
The problem is I’ll get sucked into the video rather than my work, even if it’s a game I’ve seen streamed more than once.
Even though we writers like to learn by observing other media, it’s important that we don’t let ourselves spend too much time doing that and not enough time on our actual work.
Limiting distractions is an important skill to have, but especially when you’re working from home.
While it is important to avoid distractions, this isn’t to say they are always unwelcome.
One way to keep track of the breaks you allow yourself is staying pretty close to your workplace’s policy. In my case, this means one optional fifteen-minute break and one required thirty-minute break.
Of course, one of the perks of setting your own schedule is the ability to determine your own breaks. If you think you would be better off breaking that thirty-minute chunk into smaller bits, that is perfectly okay.
Setting Up Shop
Just like we have a designated workplace out in the “real world,” people working from home need to claim an area for their work zone.
I’m lucky enough to have a writing space in my house, but I know that’s not something everyone has or would want to set up in a temporary situation. But in the time we are working from home, you might want to consider laying claim to a corner of your living space. When I was in college, I did my best to separate school and extracurricular activities by not doing homework in bed and trying to avoid binging YouTube and Netflix at my desk.
Try to find somewhere without distraction and that won’t inhibit you from getting things done. If your job requires use of a landline phone, make sure that is in reach and won’t have you running all over the house for different tasks. Make sure all necessary electronics are charged and can be easily plugged in, and connected your WiFi as required.
If you are able, try to lay out some rules with the people you live with—call them your coworkers, if you wish. Make sure they know the hours you plan to work during and what you are aiming to do. This way, you stand a better chance of being able to focus and being held accountable for how much you are able to get done.
Social Media In A Time Of Social Distancing
Social Distancing, as I think we’ve all become familiar with, is a preventative measure with the idea of slowing to eventually stop the spread of viruses like the COVID-19. This includes avoiding large crowds, expressing caution in our everyday routines, and practicing good health.
This is one of the main reasons that so many of us are working from home these days.
But this does not mean you need to become a recluse. One of the benefits of social media is being able to keep in touch with friends and family.
Check in with your loved ones and make sure everyone is doing all right. The circumstances of today are scary at times, so it’s important to find a sense of community.
Find ways of being together even though we’re apart.
It will make all of this feel less lonely.
Allow A Learning Curve
Just like settling into a new job, you’re going to need some time to adjust to working from home. It’s a new environment with new challenges.
Go easy on yourself for the first couple of days and give yourself a chance to figure out what works best for you. Remember that a lot of us have been thrown into this working from home situation rather abruptly, so we should not expect ourselves to adjust immediately.
I cannot stress this enough: keep those hands washed and be kind to others. We are going to bounce back from this, but we will need to be there for each other when we do.
To take care of yourself is to take care of others.