As you might already have noticed from reading my various musings, my tenure as porcupette has always been a virtual one. The environs of the shop in Erin Village are picturesque, to be sure—so much so that the housing and rental market isn’t one that fits within the budgets of fledgling publishing professionals. So for the past several years, I’ve worked remotely, with the kind of flexible schedule—and ultra-comfortable dress code—that was, pre-pandemic, the envy of my contemporaries.
I sometimes feel a little guilty that my day-to-day life has changed so little in the Age of Covid. Unlike some of my friends and family, who have had something of a crash course in working from home over the last several months, I’ve had years to hone my best practices … and probably get into some bad habits! Given my experience, I thought I’d share some of the strategies that work for me when it comes to staying sane while working from home.
Don’t work where you sleep.
I realize this could be difficult depending on the limits of your living space, but generally speaking, resist the temptation to work from your bedroom. You need a refuge from your work because I promise you, the last thing you want to do is start dreaming about commas.
The thing about working from home is that you probably have more flexibility when it comes to when you accomplish your work. If nine-to-five days work for you, great. If not, your employer might be open to a different timeframe as long as you prove able to accomplish your goals. But that said, it is incredibly important to have boundaries. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of being in office mode all the time when you work from home, and answering emails at all hours of the day and night is a recipe for burnout. It’s best to decide when you will be available so as to ensure some balance in your life.
The thing about boundaries is that they’re no good if you’re not disciplined enough to follow them. If you can’t meet your work goals because you get distracted, you’ll be tempted to break those boundaries you set for yourself in order to catch up. Be realistic when you set hours and goals. If you’re overwhelmed you might find yourself sucked into the procrastination vortex. No one wants to be sucked into the procrastination vortex.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in your workspace. It’s just a fact. So make sure that you have the tools you need to be comfortable. Find a good ergonomic desk chair. If you’re tall, elevate your computer screen. If you’re short, invest in a foot rest. And make sure there’s something in the room to make you happy. Whether it’s a cool poster or a fancy coffee mug or a very cute stuffed Baby Yoda (which I may or may not be admitting to), add some personality and joy to your office space. I find it’s much easier to work in a pleasing, personalized environment.
I’m still working on this myself, but it’s good advice. Sometimes you need to just walk away. Whether it’s because you’re frustrated or just mentally exhausted, you need to take an occasional break from staring at the screen. Get up. Go for a walk. Shake the sillies out. Your brain and your body will thank you.
Recognize your good fortune.
This one might just be the most important tip of all. Now more than ever we need to remember not to take things for granted. If you’re working from home, remember how lucky you are to have a job that allows such flexibility. Revel in the pleasures of working in sweatpants. Enjoy the extra time with your kids and pets. Celebrate the reduction in time spent commuting. Take a minute each day for gratitude—a positive outlook can work wonders!
I hope these (rather simple) strategies resonate with all of our Quill friends navigating the new “WFH” culture in which we find ourselves. If you’ve found any handy hints during your work-from-home time, free to share in the comments below!