"In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ has already supplanted the great ‘Encyclopedia Galactica’ as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
- Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Many of you haven’t been groomed for a life of solitude and it shows. However, do not fear. Here are some handy dandy tips to working from home while we weather out the Covid-19 storm.
1. Don’t Panic!
An intergalactic highway, requiring the destruction of earth, is not being built – yet. Leave the conspiracy theories aside. Yes, this is a big change for all of us and the best way to adapt is to put aside the panic and focus on the day. Take your work commitments a day at a time and soon, you will get into the rhythm of a new way of working.
2. Timing is Everything
Optimize your time window. Choose tasks that involve communication with others at times where you will overlap with their time zone and when you will be most productive. Fix a definitive time window for these tasks and then plan your individual tasks around this. Be careful not to overcommit either, else you may overwork yourself. It may take you a couple of days to get this right, so be sure to adjust based on your daily experience.
3. Location, Location, Location!
Working from home can trick your mind and body into thinking it’s a weekend! Set up your “office” in a quiet zone, where you get plenty of sunlight and are free from distractions. Ergonomics are important, so find a place where you will be comfortable but able to focus. If you live with others, make sure your office has a door that will keep others out.
4. You’ve Got Mail … and then some
Since your colleagues are all probably working remotely too, be prepared for your inbox to be inundated. I’ve always found that mornings are best for me to sort through my emails. It seems daunting at first but once you start you can knock it off fairly quickly. For me, a robust folder structure does the trick! Once you’ve read through an email and assimilated the contents, move it to the respective folder. Anything that requires further action should be flagged and left in your inbox until you complete the task. This helps you focus your day as well.
5. Do, or do not. There is no “try.”
Once you are clear about your tasks for the day, prioritize them and start working through them all. Intersperse the simpler, quick tasks with the ones that are energy and time consuming. Knocking off the easy stuff will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to move on to the bigger tasks.
6. Communication is key
In the absence of visual cues, it’s a good practice to overcommunicate. Don’t hesitate to write or call teams and colleagues to discuss, provide information, or ask questions. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and welcome the human interaction as well. However, respect their availability and check if you can call them first.
7. Line in the sand
One thing that most people struggle with is balancing family and work, especially if you have kids. You need to draw a line in the sand and communicate to your family about your work times and your breaks. Here’s where that door comes in very, very handy.
8. Why so serious?
It shouldn’t be all work all the time. Give yourself a reward after you accomplish a challenging task. Pencil it into your To-Do list if you must. Watch that funny cat clip, take a quick 10-min walk, play with your children for 15 min, read a chapter in your book. The break will invigorate you and motivate you to take on the next task.
9. Choose the red pill
Throughout this experience, we will make mistakes and continue to adjust our way of working until we hit a groove. But our current situation also presents a great opportunity to upskill. Choose online learning content providers whose course materials resonate with your learning goals. Sign up for webinars or engage in gamification and game-based learning – whatever keeps it fresh for you. Carry your new-found skills into the future, so that when things normalize and you are back in your cubicle, you are now applying your new skills and insights for better results!
– By Payal Jhurani, Director – Key Accounts, MPS Interactive Systems