5 ways to turn into a work from home expert
By Karina Zapata, Publishing Editor
Before COVID-19 hit and changed life as we knew it, I never worked from home. I hated everything about it — having my work too intertwined with my personal life, having to recalibrate how I saw my personal spaces, having to work around at-home distractions and not having a change of scenery.
This pandemic was a shock to the system in most ways, but it mainly disrupted my workflow. I’m extremely lucky to have held onto my jobs through COVID-19, but it also meant that I had to learn how to work from home. Fast.
Following Alberta’s relaunch strategy, businesses and services across Calgary are slowly beginning to open back up. Now that we’re on the second stage of the economy’s reopening, there are other locations we could be working from, but the provincial government is still asking its residents to “follow public health measures, practice physical distancing and good hygiene, and continue acting responsibly.”
For some people — even those who love working in coffee shops, like me — acting responsibly means continuing to stay home as much as possible. Further, following MRU’s announcement that the majority of students will be taking courses online in the Fall 2020 semester, it is crucial to learn how to be productive at home.
Four months ago, I hated working from home. But now, a few months into practicing and following the tips below, I’ve come to set boundaries with my work and enjoy the convenience of working in the same space that I live.
Make your bed every morning
This is an easy first tip if you make your bed every morning either way. If you’ll be working in the same space you live, it’s important for your mind and body to distinguish when it’s time to work and when it’s time to rest. Can you imagine if you had a messy, unmade bed in the middle of your office? If anything, it would leave you feeling frustrated and annoyed. Making your bed every morning is an easy, quick way to clear your mind of distractions — at least in your working space.
Buy a laptop stand
If you’re anything like me, lacking proper ergonomics while you work from home can result in a strained nerve. For several weeks, six of my 10 fingers were perpetually tingling and it made my life extremely uncomfortable. Getting a laptop stand and other appropriate ergonomic equipment will make sure that you aren’t hurting yourself as you work away in your home office. According to MyHealth.Alberta.ca, many people respond to stress by tensing up their bodies, which can cause pain — and during this pandemic, stress isn’t unknown to anyone.
If you’re on a budget, you can also create makeshift equipment out of household items, such as stacked books. MyHealth.Alberta.ca also provides guidelines for stress relief and relaxation.
Nail your coffee or tea recipe
If you’re an avid coffee or tea drinker, now is the perfect time to nail your perfect recipe at home, which will save you in the long run. This can be as simple as making your own cold brew by steeping your coffee grinds overnight, getting flavoured creamer if you lean towards sweeter drinks and buying affordable equipment that might replicate high-end beverages you’d purchase at a coffee shop, such as a milk frother for a homemade earl grey latte. Once I nailed my coffee recipe, I started to look forward to waking up to drink my coffee first thing in the morning. It makes long working days a little less unbearable and a little more productive.
If you really want to focus on this tip, buying beans or tea from local coffee shops is a great way to support small businesses during this time — especially when so many stores temporarily shut down. Many cafes, such as Rosso Coffee Roasters and Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. are set up for product delivery across the city, and some businesses even have home delivery subscriptions for convenience.
Set a schedule
It’s easy to lose track of time when you no longer have a routine of leaving the house. What helps with this is figuring out when you’re most productive and setting your daily schedule to those hours. Some people work best in the morning and some people work best in the evening. If you’re working from home and have flexible hours, choosing your schedule can be the most advantageous aspect of no longer having to go into the office. It is extremely important to log off when you say you’re going to log off so you don’t get burnt out — no matter how easy it is to keep going back to your computer.
Additionally, it helps to continue to keep up with your calendar. When you have a meeting, put it in your calendar. Check your calendar every morning. This will allow you to stay oriented each day and not get lost in the vastness and uncertainty of this pandemic.
Take it easy
This is the most important tip of all. While everyone is slowly settling into this new normal, we are still in the middle of a pandemic which is stressful, scary and unpredictable. It’s okay if you aren’t as productive as you were pre-pandemic. It’s okay if you only have the capacity to work half the amount of time that you did before the world changed. It’s okay if you have to put your side projects aside. Everyone is currently living through a massive global shift that is changing history — it is truly important to take it easy during this COVID-19 crisis.