But, when I started working from home on Feb. 1, 2018, everyone said to me, “Wow, you can work in your jammies now!”
I could. But I don’t.
Yoga pants, yes. PJs, no.
So I have two years and seven weeks (ish) of working from home under my belt. Which, I also don’t wear.
For all you newbies to the “work-from-home” life, allow me to share some tips and insights with you.
NOT ENOUGH DISCIPLINE
Before I started working in my own little office in my own little chair, I got up and went to work every day. For close to 38 years. I wasn’t so sure I could be disciplined enough to stay at my computer and get the job done, the work accomplished, day-in, day-out.
But I found out I could. But, still, jammies just don’t lend themselves to accomplishing work.
TOO MUCH EATING
I was also worried about over-eating, with the kitchen just a short flight of stairs away. I’m practically sitting on top of the refrigerator and pantry.
However, it’s actually EASIER to not overeat at home — those morning donuts, birthday cakes, bags of MMM … Popcorn, boxes of Girl Scout cookies, trays of holiday treats and the candy bars Chorus Dad was always selling are not tempting me anymore.
I can stock my snack pantry with roasted seaweed, almonds, still the occasional bag of Healthy Pop from MMM … Popcorn and pork rinds (yes, pork rinds — they are “carb-less” and practically have NO WW points!)
TOO MUCH SITTING
My Apple Watch tells me, “Time to Stand” at 10 minutes to the hour if I haven’t been up and moving in the previous 50 minutes. … Wait, I’ll be right back … OK. I’m back.
It’s good to step away from your computer screen. At the office, we might wander over to a coworker’s desk to visit. At home, we don’t have that coworker. It’s easy to just workworkworkworkwork without a break. Set a timer. Rest your eyes. Stretch your back. Go for a walk around your Wheeling neighborhood. Meditate. Go get the mail. Sit on your front porch step. Take that break. It’s good for you.
And if you’re on a call and don’t need to take notes, just walk around while you talk. I get hundreds of steps in each day from just being on the phone.
TOO MANY DISTRACTIONS
Is your spouse also working from home right now? And, if you have kids, I’m sure they’re keeping you “company” while you’re trying to work. Set up your workspace away from those distractions — as much as possible. Close a door. Wear earplugs.
Right. I know. Easier said than done. If my grandkids were here, they’d be pounding at that closed door, yelling, “Gramma Phyllis! Gramma Phyllis!”
This. Is. Key.
Sure, you could curl up with your laptop on the couch in the living room, but will you really get much work done?
Good lighting, maybe a window for some natural light and a good-for-your-back office chair help to make your workspace conducive to productivity. If a standing desk is a possibility, that can also be helpful.
Sure, you may pay your bills and shop online in the same space, but for the most part, think of it as your office. You are going to work when you sit down in that space.
Because my situation is long-term, I ordered new desk accessories to accommodate pens, papers, post-it pads and mail. Stationery supplies always make me happy.
SET SOME BOUNDARIES
It’s easy to work 24/7 when you work from home. Set some boundaries for yourself. If you plan your day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., just step away from your office for the evening. And weekends, if possible.
It’s also important to set a routine. Plan breakfast, lunch and snack times. Use your former commute time to get a workout in before you sit down at your desk.
And sometimes, I won’t even step foot into my office on a Sunday — otherwise, I’ll be inclined to check and respond to emails.
NOT EVEN REMOTELY NORMAL TIMES
This may be (we sure hope!) a temporary situation. Many of you are figuring out Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack and more — for now. Eventually, you’ll all get back to normal, get dressed in the morning and get on with your daily commute.
Some places may just figure out that telecommuting works well for everyone!
I know the COVID-19 remote working situation that many have been thrust into is different than remote work in our previously “normal” lives, but I do hope some of these tips are helpful.
Well, it’s 10 til 6 … I gotta go get up and walk around. Have a good weekend everyone!
• Having spent nearly 38 years as reporter, bureau chief, lifestyles editor and managing editor at The Times Leader, and design editor at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, Phyllis Sigal now serves as Weelunk’s managing editor. She lives in Wheeling with her husband Bruce Wheeler. Along with their two children, son-in-law and two grandchildren, food, wine, travel, theater and music are close to their hearts.