8 am: I get up, take a shower, put on my tracksuit, put on my slippers, eat bread and butter and coffee and go to the office … which I set up in the living room.
This has been my routine since I have been working in Information Technology for almost 20 years. And it is the new routine of thousands of Portuguese since March 2020. I do it because I “caught” the Telework Virus, the one that no longer lets me work in a “normal” office, which prevents me from wasting hours in traffic, which makes me eat healthy homemade food. And thousands of Portuguese do it because they don’t want to catch the “other” virus, COVID-19, the coronavirus, the “bug” that changed the world in 2020.
If you are reading this, you are probably at home right now, in a forced quarantine, experiencing teleworking for the first time consistently. The bad news is that the Telework Virus has already started to infect your mind, to hypnotize you with the wonders of this working method. The good news is that there are steps you can take to mitigate its effects, although, unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine for this virus. Let’s see them.
1 – Have a Work Schedule
The biggest illusion of Telework is that there are no working hours. Don’t be fooled. If you don’t have schedules, you start to find yourself spending hours a day watching TV, scrolling on Facebook, eating like an animal. This is not teleworking: it is laziness. Establish a working schedule and stick to it. If you have to make an exception and, in one day, have to go to the supermarket in the middle of the afternoon, when you return, make up for the hours of work.
2 – Set up a Home Office
Set up a small office in the living room. Ideally, on a permanent table where your PC will not leave. Do not work in bed, do not work in front of the TV. That corner of the room is your professional temple, respect it and get the rest of the family to respect it too.
3 – Prepare your Workspace
It is not enough to have a space dedicated to work. It has to be nice. Let in natural light. Open the window to get oxygen. Have (real) plants close by. Have small decorative elements that you can look at when you take your eyes off the screen to think.
4 – Listen to Music (or not)
If you like listening to music while working without being distracted, have your playlist on your PC or use music streaming applications. Or if you prefer, cultivate silence. But do not turn on the TV or play podcasts of “conversation” that will involve the focus of your attention. Listen to podcasts when you’re washing dishes or cooking, or just relaxing on the couch.
5 – Keep Children Busy
If you have children at home while trying to work, plan breaks to be with them, but also plan activities that they can do independently such as drawing or building a skyscraper in Lego. Give them autonomy so you don’t always have to keep an eye on them because that way neither they play nor you work. And avoid keeping them busy with mobile phones. Your goal is to keep them busy, not to turn their brains into jelly.
6 – Eat Healthy
One of the biggest symptoms of infection with the Telework Virus is weight gain, due to the increase in consumption of food rich in calories and in excess quantity. When you’re working all day 10 seconds away from the kitchen, the temptation to stop and eat is great. Try to anticipate this, having a bottle of water and a piece of fruit right next to you to eat without stopping work and without resorting to crackers and savory snacks. And cook healthy instead of ordering take-away. That is one of the biggest advantages of working from home. Don’t waste it.
7 – Ignore your Mobile Phone and Social Media
Mute or disable Facebook, Whatsapp, etc. notifications. How urgent do you think that post or that joke they sent you will be? Is it really that important to the point of harming your work? See and respond to messages and posts during your breaks, don’t interrupt your work to do so. Give priority to work at working time; and do not work in the moments of pause. Respect your own priorities.
8 – Take breaks
Depending on the type of work you do, plan 10-minute breaks every 1h30 or 2h. Take the time to eat, to go to social networks, to reply to messages, to stretch your legs, to go to the window, or to take the dog out into the street. The break is yours, enjoy it.
9 – Protect your PC
All your work will be on your PC. Don’t risk losing it. Take the following precautions: install an anti-virus (even a free one); make backups (at least, once a day) of your most important files (on an external disk, on a pen, or in the cloud); do not click on links you do not recognize in emails or browse sites of dubious credibility; keep up to date with Windows and your programs updates.
10 – Organize your Work
A lot of teleworkers spend too much time preparing to work instead of being productive, due to their lack of organization. Get organized and you will either be able to produce a lot more, or you will finish more quickly and have more free time. But organize yourself, how?
a) If you use email to work, do not leave all messages in the inbox, otherwise you will no longer know the subjects you dispatched and those that are waiting for your intervention. Create folders, drag dispatched emails over there, leave only in-process emails in your inbox.
b) Use a calendar like Outlook or Google Calendar. Do not try to know all appointments by heart, or walk around with papers.
c) Record how long you work. For example, use an application like Clockify that allows you to easily record the time you spend on each project / task. That way, you’ll be able to control exactly whether you’re working as hard as you imagined.
d) Create alarms on your phone or PC to warn you when to take breaks. But, until then, work without distractions.
And this is it. With these measures, I am confident that you will be able to resist the Telework Virus and, when the COVID-19 quarantine is over, you will have joined the tribe of teleworkers! For the rest of your life!
[ ARTICLE TRANSLATED WITH GOOGLE’S AUTOMATED TRANSLATION SERVICE ]