The commute is gone. Working clothes are gone. Watercooler talks are gone. Your boss stopping by unannounced at an inopportune time is gone. You are free. Relax. This is going to be easy. You can roll right out of bed and get to your “office” in thirty seconds. Hair brushing and toothbrushing are optional, although I would not recommend foregoing either. You’ve never been so comfortable, so up on your laundry, so close with your cats, so behind on your work.
Wait, what? Behind on my work?
Yes, behind on your work.
Some people are great at managing themselves. You are not. It is not because they are naturally better at it, or that their parents raised them with more gusto and purpose, it is because they have a plan. And to better manage yourself, and your workload, you also need a plan and you need to stick to it.
Step 1: Set Hours
Setting hours is tantamount to being a productive person. All of us want to continue binging our favorite show at night for just one more hour and tell ourselves, “big deal, I can sleep in, I don’t have to be at the office.” Don’t let yourself do this no matter how much you want to see what happens on the new episodes of The Umbrella Academy. Setting hours for yourself will help you stay productive. Whether it is 9 to 5 or 11 to 7 or midnight to 8, regardless of what time of day, stick to it.
Step 2: Make Your Bed, Clean Yourself, and Stay Away from Sweats
Whatever ringtone you have chosen is going off. Time to wake up. What to do now? Well, probably the most important part of the day is the first thing you do. When you get out of bed, before you drink water, stretch, or scratch your face, make your bed. Once you’ve done that you can move on. Why should this be the first thing you do? You have started your day off with an accomplishment (and it looks nicer than crumpled sheets), good work.
Next up you need to clean yourself: mouth, body, face, check, check, check. Then, please do not put on your sweats. You can go a little more casual than you do at work of course, but we don’t need you looking like The Dude (If you do not know who this is watch The Big Lebowski). Pick a “uniform” standard and stick to it.
Step 3: The Office
You are all ready for work. You smell like soap, your breath smells like coffee, and you have a spring in your step. It is time for the commute. And now the commute is done, you didn’t even get to listen to your favorite podcast (this is one of the drawbacks of working from home: less me time. We’ll get to that in a few steps). You are at the office. You are at home.
So, wait, where are you?
You are at both. There needs to be a place that you go at beginning of the day and leave when the day is done. This is where you work. This is not where you search the internet for new shoes or check TikTok for the latest video of Snoop Dogg baking cookies. If you must pretend that your boss could stop by unannounced do that; tape a picture of them above your computer if you have to. Just stick to work.
Step 4: Break Time
You have been working diligently for a few hours, congratulations. Give yourself some me time. Take ten to get some water, coffee, or, yes, check on what Snoop is up to. Just because you are at home does not mean that you don’t get a break, just don’t take too many. A great way to stay productive is to not overwork yourself. Now is when you treat yourself to the pair of shoes you have been looking at for weeks. Make sure you take time every two hours.
Sub-Step 4: Lunch Time
Lunch time is the Babe Ruth of breaks. Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour. Do not just power down some food and watch a show. Make sure you get outside. Say hello to the crow that has been watching you through the window everyday for the past month. Maybe go for a walk (don’t forget your mask) and see where the sun is at in its arch through the sky. Most importantly is to do what will get you reenergized for the second half of your workday.
Step 5: No Hermits Allowed
You can get a lot done when you are alone, this is true, but it can also have a negative effect. Humans need communication, especially if they are working together, so make sure that you are getting some dialogue with your coworkers. It doesn’t matter how you connect, there are many platforms such as Slack that are great for this. Nobody should be a lone reed blowing in the wind. Stay in touch.
Step 6: Done for The Day
You have stuck to the plan: cleaned yourself, got to work on time, did your work, gave yourself a break, and avoided hermithood. What to do now?
Turn off your computer, don’t check your emails, and start the commute home. You are home. Stay home. Make dinner, hangout with your family, have some wine, do some yoga. Whatever helps you disconnect from work is the key. You are done for the day. Just because you can see your desk does not mean you have to acknowledge it.
Bonus Step: This Is A Big Step
Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You still have a job. There are many people out there who do not and would give anything to be in your position: not worrying about how to pay rent, or for food, or clothes, or (fill in the blank). Being grateful for your job is the most important step in staying productive. It is easy to take a job for granted, especially when you have worked there for a long time. Don’t let this happen. There is somebody out there waiting for your job who will give it their all, make sure you give it yours.