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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question looks at how to continue working from home. If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
How do you continue working from home during the pandemic? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach, still in pandemic mode.
I have a question from James Bundela, a writer based in Los Angeles, California. Here’s what he asked by email…
“I work in communications at a large public company. I’m still stuck working from home during the pandemic. And I have young kids. How do I survive this situation better than I am now?”
Thanks for your question, James. I’m still in pandemic mode, too, but at least I’ve had a haircut! I’ve worked from home for more than 24 years now and I love it. But it’s tough accommodation to make when you didn’t choose this for yourself — especially when you have young kids.
I’ve written a blog post about how to work from home and I include a link in the notes below. Here’s a summary of the key points to remember:
Choose a designated place for doing your work. If you have kids, it needs to be a place where you can shut a door. I started working from home when my triplets were about three. My office was in a loft, separated from the 2nd floor of our house by a ladder. I convinced my kids they couldn’t climb the ladder but they did make a heck of a racket from the floor below. How I wished I had a door!
Given that your work-from-home arrangement is not likely to be permanent, you might want to pick a space like your bedroom. And if the kids are still too noisy for that, get yourself a pair of gun muffs — they’re cheaper and more effective than noise-cancelling headphones — to block the noise. Also, if you’re doing Zoom calls, make sure you can face the computer in such a way so as the laundry hamper or the bed don’t show up onscreen.
Declare your schedule. Decide how many hours you’re going to work each day and when you’re going to take breaks. Then TELL your kids and your partner about these plans. The kids are more likely to cooperate if they know when their “Dad-time” is going to occur. Also, try really hard not to be distracted by your phone when you’re not working. I suggest putting it on silent mode and checking only once an hour or so — or less frequently if you can get away with that.
Figure out what you’re going to wear. This sounds like a joke, but it’s not. Experts say that people who work from home do better if they dress up a little bit. You don’t have to go for the full suit, but at least wear pants with a waistband and a reasonable dress shirt. And shoes! Shoes are really important.
Take steps to combat loneliness. Working from home can make you feel isolated. Make sure that you have regular meetings with your team at work. You’ll need to stay connected with them now more than ever.
Know when to quit. When I first started working from home, I worked way too much, including during evenings and weekends. The problem with working from home is that it’s impossible to know when the work ends. Understand that YOU are going to have to make that decision. Work is unlimited and could take over your life. Don’t let that happen!
Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from the young entrepreneur Elijah Schneider: “Wake up and get ready just like you’re going to work. If you stay in your slippers all day you will not be as productive.”
James, I’ve always enjoyed working from home, but I made that choice. This is something that’s been foisted on you. Take the concrete steps I suggest so that the situation doesn’t become overwhelming for you or your family.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or on Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.