As someone who is privileged enough to work remotely, I’ve developed a handy set of tools and strategies for dealing with some of the issues that come along with spending most of your time at home. During this growing coronavirus pandemic, it’s paramount for people to stay home, practice social distancing, and avoid putting yourself or others in danger unnecessarily. Many are forced to stay home or at least severely limit their normal activities. These challenges are only made more daunting for parents of small children and the immunocompromised. Since we’re only going to get through this together, I thought I’d lay out some of the lessons I’ve learned for working from and staying at home without losing your mind from loneliness or boredom.
5. Exercise & Meditate
With all of the craziness going on, it would be understandable to forget some of your normal routines. Among brushing your teeth and flossing, I suggest you specifically take time out of your day to exercise, and maybe even meditate, to help yourself let off some steam, relax, and keep your body fit and healthy. You may not be able to go to the gym, but there are plenty of options for you to exercise while practicing social distancing, even if you don’t have enough space to lift weights at home. Try going for a hike in the woods or a jog around the block, making sure to stay away from crowded areas. Yoga or other exercises that can be done in the home are great for keeping your body and mind happy, healthy, and ready to tackle your to-do list for the day.
4. Go for a Drive
I grew up in a rural farm town, so I’m very familiar with the concept of “going for a drive” whenever I was bored as a kid. My friends and I would drive down to the beach, drive to a nearby town, or drive in any direction and see where it took us. Although some of us can’t leave the house for non-essential reasons, others may find solace in getting out of the house for a bit without putting themselves in danger of contracting the coronavirus. Getting out of the house may sound counterproductive, but as long as you practice social distancing and stay safe, going for a scenic drive might be exactly what you need to overcome cabin fever.
3. Read a Book
With all non-essential workers staying home, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stream high-quality video or play games online thanks to folks hogging the bandwidth. Do you know what doesn’t require bandwidth to provide endless entertainment? Books. I’m sure you have a list of books you’ve told yourself that you want to finish reading, but you just never find the time. Now you have the time. Better yet, start a book club or invite a friend to read something along with you so that you have something to discuss over video chat. Whether its fiction or nonfiction, classical or contemporary, I can guarantee you that there is a book that you will enjoy out there. If money is an issue, there are communities entirely focused on sharing free e-books online (/r/freeebooks for example) where you can find plenty of material to peruse through.
One of my New Years’ resolutions was to read a book each month, and although I’m a little behind thanks to everything that’s happened these past few months, I’m making a lot of progress and enjoying every second of it. I still enjoy Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and CBS All Access, but given we don’t know whether capitalism will survive this mess, you better start enjoying books because they’re going to survive long past all of this other crap.
2. Start a Collaborative Project
A big part of staying sane during this quarantine is making sure to communicate with others despite social distancing. Video chats and Discord are great options for staying connected, but if you often struggle to come up with something to talk about, consider starting a collaborative project with someone. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but giving you and your friends something to work on is a great way to bring everyone together towards a common goal. I’m personally working with my friends on a few game development projects and chatting with my writing group about the progress we’re making on our individual stories. Whatever gets you and your friends engaged in something happy and productive will do wonders towards defeating the ever-encroaching cloud of loneliness following us all through this quarantine.
1. Create Divides Between Work and Play
A big part of my success in working from home for the past 5 years is separating my “work” environment from my “home” environment, both in terms of physical space and in terms of my state of mind. Having an office, special chair, or even just another device (if you work with computers, try using your desktop for work and your laptop for play, for example) can help you be more productive, stay focused, and feel better once work is finished for the day. Being able to “turn off” your work brain and relax is essential to feeling comfortable while working from home.
If you use emails or instant messaging for works, set a specific time reserved for reading emails and responding to messages. This will help cut down on distractions and keep you from checking your phone/email unnecessarily while you aren’t working. Set up silent alerts on your phone if you have to, but be careful about giving up too much time “off the clock” if you aren’t being compensated.
Needless to say, we’re all in this together, even though if we’re trying to keep our distance. Stay safe, check in on your loved ones, and think of others who are less privileged than you during this crisis. The only way we’re going to kick this virus’s ass is by working together by staying at and working from home.