Still hoping to go back to the office soon? Looking forward to a workspace that is not your temporary living room work desk? If you, like me, have realised that working from home is simply not meant for you; then this one’s for you.
As someone who isn’t particularly fond of working from home, here are 5 habits I’ve begun to incorporate into my work day that makes me dislike #wfh a little lesser.
Actually, a lot lesser.
1. Get done with check-ins, team meets and agenda planning in the first half of the day
To be painfully realistic (and maybe borderline nihilistic, but I’ll leave that for you to decide) we all tried the “waking up sufficiently early to get dressed, feel fresh, finish a major chunk of your work” thing early on in the lockdown – and failed miserably.
So here’s a more realistic and updated version of this early-morning routine.
The mind is refreshed, rested, refuelled and therefore more productive in the early hours of the day. Use it for all the work that requires heavy lifting and extra energy. By which I mean planning and communication.
Constant communication and increased screen time is perhaps one of the bigger perils of this “new normal”. Reaching out to people sporadically throughout the day (and having them reach out to you) can cause significant harm to your flow and productivity.
Here is what to do instead:
Get done with as much coordination and communication in the first half of the day itself. Check-in with your teammates and your manager and discuss –
- Work updates
- Tasks that need to be undertaken for the day
- Scheduling any meetings
Pro tip: Create your task list at the beginning of the day and highlight those things that need to be discussed in the morning check-in.
2. Dial back on the rapid responses
As a Gen-Z who feels incomplete without her phone and has an incurable need to check every notification the second she gets it, controlling the need to check and respond immediately to every conversation is hard, but totally necessary.
The lack of a formal workspace implies the lack of a clear physical demarcation between your work and your home persona. Ceaseless notifications (both work, personal as well as the ones in your real physical space) don’t help.
This blurring of boundaries means that people from both personal and professional spheres feel that they have unlimited access to your energy at all times. Instant responses have become a way to measure how ‘present’ you are, a reassurance that you are not just slacking off at home.
Changing this requires trust from your employer’s end, and clarity on commitment from yours. Both are possible with clear communication and expectation setting.
Pro tip: When you are working on a task that needs focus, add that to your calendar, or set it as your status on chat.
Time sensitive projects apart, you can compartmentalise and eventually learn to judge for yourself as to which notifications do indeed warrant a rapid response.
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3. Block ‘no-meeting’ time on your calendar
Make this a regular part of your day – a block of time set aside for you for focussed work.
Mark this time on your calendar (so that it’s visible to everyone in your team) and announce that you will be doing this on a daily basis.
Pro tip: Ask for a formalised ‘no-meeting’ time for the whole team. That way, no one sets up meetings at that time.
4. End your work day by celebrating your accomplishments
Take stock of what you achieved, and what remains. Sometimes, day to day wins are not visible, especially when your work involves long term projects. Still, the simple task of checking things off your list and making a note of small wins gives a sense of accomplishment that is critical to our well being at work.
Pro tip: By planning out your tasks for the next day at the end of your usual work day, you end up tricking yourself into looking forward to and feeling more in control of the next day.
5. Be direct in your communication, ask for explanations, and don’t assume.
To say that we’re all working in a void would not be an overstatement. We’re all in different physical spaces, bogged down by different challenges. In addition to this, there’s a severe lack of physical cues to decipher communication the way we were once able to.
So it’s best to not engage in conjecture about people’s responses. You felt that your boss’ tone was more sour than usual? Or a coworker lost their temper? Perhaps they were speaking louder or struggling with a bad connection.
We cannot use the yardstick of the past to judge the present.
If someone’s tone confuses you, the best thing is to ask. Be direct. Mention that you felt a little disconcerted by what they said or how they said it, and would they please explain? The answer might surprise you.
So there you go. These were all the quick and easy habits that I’ve adopted to trick myself into feeling happier.
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