By Jennifer Honeycutt
As we’re all aware, the world has been plunged into a whole different reality. We no longer pile into a packed train car, a bus, or into heavy morning traffic to get to work or class. For many of us, “commuting” means taking a two-minute walk from our bedrooms to our dining room tables or kitchen countertops, hopefully remembering to brush our teeth and look presentable for our Zoom conference calls.
When the stay-at-home order first came to Chicago, I experienced a bizarre mix of apprehension for the unknown, gratitude that I still had a job, and jubilation that I could do my job wearing my jammies. I quickly became aware of the following challenges:
My roommates exist and also have work from home jobs.
Working in my bedroom made it impossible to stop working at night.
Working without DePaul’s resources like Adobe Creative software made graphic design and formatting a nightmare.
This is a super lonely way to work, even for a self-professed introvert.
After working ineffectively under these conditions for a week, I realized I needed to change my behavior. Here are some things that helped me produce better work to maintain my sanity:
1. Headphones will save us all!
Invest in a good (or inexpensive) pair, crank some J.S. Bach or a white noise app, and it’s like working in your own isolated office.
2. Set up a designated space that is exclusively for work.
For me, it’s the dining room table, and it’s a mess with notebooks and energy drinks, but it keeps my work and personal life separate (and keeps me from taking a nap).
3. Canva is your friend.
It lacks some of the power of Illustrator or Photoshop, but it has a tremendous number of elements and an intuitive interface. It’s a great application and it’s free (unless you want some upgraded and fancier features you can pay for).
4. If you have access to outdoor spaces, use them.
I’m lucky to have a porch where WiFi reaches, but even just opening a window and letting some fresh air in is incredibly energizing. This sounds simple, but it’s amazing how quickly I forgot that being outside is good for my brain.
5. Be honest about challenges you’re having with technology and focus.
Everyone is in a weird place right now, and people are generally understanding. It’s a great time to gather resources and work on leaning on other people a bit when it’s needed. May we all leave isolation as better team players.
6. I can’t stress this enough, get yourself something fun.
It doesn’t have to be something expensive, just something that makes your work day a little silly, personal, and ridiculous. I bought myself roller skates and sometimes wear them while I’m working. If there’s one benefit of working from home, it’s that I can skate into my kitchen for a snack during my lunch break.
To my co-workers, if you’re reading this, yes I was wearing roller skates during our Zoom call.