For many, this lockdown has led to a recent transition to working remotely full-time. In light of COVID-19, more people are discovering what it’s like to work from home and away from their teammates. For some it might it’s a new experience, for many, like freelancers who largely work from home, it’s an amped-up version of a typical day. While the transition hasn’t been easy for all, it has taught people something valuable about themselves. Here are eight real-life lessons about working from home that I have learnt while working from home the past month.

Also read: 7 easy hobbies you can learn during a quarantine

The Things I Learned About Myself Working From Home

  • How To Be More Adjusting
  • How To Ignore Distractions
  • How To Plan My Day
  • How To Stay Connected
  • How To Keep Motivated
  • How To Take A Break
  • How To Work On My Own, Efficiently
  • How To Explore New Ventures

1How To Be More Adjusting

Working from home has given me the flexibility to do what I want when I want to. It allows me to balance my work and home life in a way that best suits me. This will be different for all of us, based on our individual home situations. For parents, it means juggling their work with restless kids and distance learning. It might be the same for someone taking care of elderly parents or relatives. Those with pets have different responsibilities as well. Therefore, it helps to trade off responsibilities with the people you’re living with.

In my case, I live with my friend. As I cannot help out in the kitchen during the day, I take on dinner responsibilities. We have divided our chores to help each other out, to adjust to this ‘new normal’. This adjustment could mean different things to different people. So, find what works for you and the people you are living with, the way I did. For this, it’s really important to have open, honest and constant communication.

2How To Ignore Distractions

Even with multiple digital platforms helping us stay connected, It has been an important lesson to identify and eliminate those that waste time or bother my work schedule. I have learnt to intentionally ignore or stay away from persistent digital intrusions, social media notifications for example. Therefore in order to stay focused, I set a timer for 60 minutes. I give myself a few scrolling minutes before putting my phone on silent and putting it out of my reach. This minimises distraction, helping me keep track of not just my task at hand, but also the amount of time spent online. This is one of the crucial real-life lessons about working from home that I have learned.

3How To Plan My Day 

Notebook and fountain pen
Planner and sticky notes

Working from home got simpler once I started to plan my day just as I used to in the office. To stay on the plan, I structure what I’ll be doing and when I’ll be doing it. It’s equally important to allow the plan to change if need be, as it is to commit to the routine I have set for myself. Time management and planning my day have ensured that I stay as equally productive in my daily work as I would have been in the office. Something as simple as conference calls have taught me how to make agendas and avoid time-wasting rambles. 

Planning doesn’t just allow me to keep up with my professional work but helps my personal life too. For example, with proper planning, I can fit in walks at the end of the day, or even something as basic as doing the dishes. Routine has also been proven to work well for mental health. I learnt how to recognise my own faults and figured out how to work with them, in order to build my own productivity. For example, I’ve figured my bed is a big temptation, so I stay clear of it during work hours and head to a designated workspace.

Also read: 10 best work from home productivity tips

4How To Stay Connected 

Things To Do While Stuck Inside Due To A Pandemic

Different kinds of lockdowns have brought about various measures of social isolation. But as social animals, it’s important to avoid total isolation. So this is another one of the real-life lessons about working from home – it’s important to stay in touch with colleagues, friends and family, digitally. I keep up social interaction with my colleagues, ensuring there are no gaps in communication that might lead to unnecessary confusion. I have also realised how important it is to keep checking up on people through regular catch-ups (these include clients and colleagues). All of this has enhanced my interpersonal communication skills. Through constant catch-up calls with my team members, I have learnt how to boost team cohesion from afar. It’s helped me to ‘stay in the loop’. 

For me, any informal catch-up session has brought me closer to my friends. Whether that means making all those after-quarantine plans or ranting about a workday, staying connected has kept a check on feelings of isolation, loneliness or even anxiety. As these are tough times, I have realised that these communications have built new positive relationships.

Also read: What does bonding in the time of social distancing look like?

5How To Keep Motivated

A girl eating lip smacking pastry | Source: Unsplash

Working from home and staying in every day can get monotonous, which can lead to boredom. Staying in the same place doesn’t allow for creativity the same way an office and working with colleagues and a team might do. It’s best to know how to motivate yourself – another gem from real-life lessons about working from home. I try to reward myself at the end of each task or day to keep myself motivated. As mentioned earlier, I keep my phone away for a certain period of time to minimise distraction, and then I reward myself with an extra 15 minutes of screen time or even a treat to munch on (sometimes).

6How To Take A Break

As I’ve made my ‘work from home schedule’, I am more aware of my productive periods and my roadblocks. So, the scheduled breaks are up to me. Plus, I’m the one who gets to decide how and when to take five in order to relax. I try to make these breaks don’t involve any screens. So they’re anything from an evening walk to watering my plants, an at-home yoga session or just playing with my dog. It galls me to say this but yes, physical exercise (of any kind) has been my saviour when it comes to de-stressing.

While I love my bed, I have realised the importance of moving around as much as possible (even getting up to fetch myself a glass of water), especially when challenged to spend long periods within the confines of my home. These little breaks do the work of small conference meetings or tea breaks. I force myself to move around since I know sitting in one place leads to unhealthy habits (munching on junk food or just staying in bed the entire day). Even getting out of the house for some fresh air (while maintaining a distance of six feet from other people) for some time helps to refresh, recharge, and rejuvenate my mind. I have learnt that when I am up and about, it helps me come up with new ideas that I never thought were capable of. 

7How To Work On My Own, Efficiently

For someone who has never been completely on their own, WFH can be a bit terrifying. It is a challenge. After the initial happiness and excitement about getting to work in the comfort of my home wore off, I struggled with the tasks that usually took me no time. Of course, certain doubts could be cleared with the help of calls or messages, but group discussions or helping each other out virtually are quite different from face-to-face interaction.

If this is your first time, like me, try and use different methods to keep your mind on track or focused. I try to use positive habits such as listening to music, meditation, yoga, and dancing to lift the pressure off my shoulders. Now that decision-making REALLY falls on just me, it does seem a little scary. For example Something as easy as when selecting a picture for a story, I would ask for a second opinion if I was in office. But not anymore. I’ve learnt how to make my own decisions—-BIG and SMALL.

8How To Explore New Ventures

Working from home has allowed me to explore a vast array of opportunities. Once I’ve mastered a schedule that balances work and personal life, it’s helped me figure out some ‘me’ time.  

It’s this unprecedented  ‘me’ time that has given me the freedom to explore new ventures. I can take up new business ideas if they work in my favour, weighing out the pros and cons, thanks to a better understanding of my skill sets. WFH lets me explore these projects away from the distractions of the office. 

It’s the same with learning a new skill. WFH has given me an opportunity to search and look for what I really want, and then pursue it. Following my passion and inspiration not just personally but also professionally. I have always been interested in dancing and due to this new ‘me’ time, I can finally force myself to shoot videos (with my choreography) instead of keeping it on the back burner for the longest time. 

These Were My Real-Life Lessons About Work From Home

Let’s be clear—all of these observations are based on my own personal experiences. It will be an entirely different experience for others. As someone who was really struggling in the beginning, I thought I could share the lessons I learnt in this transition, in case anyone else was in the same boat as me. If I could travel back in time, I would tell my wide-eyed, innocent self, “Working from home is not really a walk in the park, but like with every new experience it will teach you many things.” These aforementioned real-life lessons have certainly made me look at work and life very differently.

While all of us are still in the learning curve if you’d like to share any of the life lessons that YOU learnt from working remotely, do mention them in the comments below!


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