By Fr. Richard Vitale
As most of you know, I have worked full time remotely for my secular job for the past 10 years, so I figured I’d share just a few insights into how to survive either working from home, or just being at home.
1.) Wake up at your normal time every morning and resist the urge to sleep in. Excessive sleeping in can cause you problems at work, and also can lead to depression over long periods of time. Wake up BEFORE you need to be working, so that you can give your mind time to boot up.
2.) When you wake up, shower, shave, brush your teeth, and put on nice-ish clothes (not PJ’s). The outfit you wear has a mental association with what you’re doing. I’m wearing a polo and jeans right now. Make your bed! Making your bed sets a powerful tone for the day. It establishes normalcy, cleanliness, productivity, and self-respect.
3.) Eat three normal meals each day at their normal times. Resist the urge to snack all day. You’d be surprised how tempting it is to forage constantly.
4.) Call your colleagues during the day. It will help you not to lose your connection to important business relationships and will provide necessary social interaction.
5.) The headphone rule. If you have a partner, roommate, or other person who shares your habitat, establish that headphones mean you are at work and do not disturb.
6.) If you are now primarily communicating by Skype, Slack, or other electronic messenger, resist the urge to hear everything in a negative tone. Be mindful that your mind might be adding flavor or intent to a message that is not there. If you can’t tell, call the person. My mind automatically reads everything negatively and catastrophically. Think about all the different tones you can apply to the phrase “What’s up with ________?”
7.) Set Boundaries. Whatever time you would usually stop working, stop working. Period.
8.) The social media distraction rule. If social media is proving too distracting for you and inhibiting your work, block it on your computer using the host file and delete it on your phone. Install it on an Ipad which you naturally will only check intermittently.
9.) Respect other people’s personal boundaries. Never use text to communicate business matters unless it has been established that that is okay in rare circumstances. Text is primarily for social interaction; use Slack or email if you need to find out about someone’s “TPS report.” If a colleague texts you, be respectful, but you may want to refer them back to established means of business communication.
10.) Do not let temptations take over your life. Don’t drink during the day or play video games, unless you’re on an established break. No distracting TV unless it’s truly just on in the background for noise. Don’t succumb to the various temptations on the internet (you know what I’m talking about). Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And don’t let it take over your life.
Bonus Item I: Many of your friends are likely bored and texting you. If you are working, it is okay to say, “I’m sorry. I’m at work and I need to focus on that right now.” They will understand. If they persist, ghost them. Maintaining your employment is the most important thing right now.
Bonus Item II: Drink plenty of water. Go outside and get some sunshine once in a while. You need both to happily survive.