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What self-quarantine has taught me about working from home

The year 2020 began like any other year, with new hopes and resolutions. Everything seemed normal at first, but it was only the calm before the storm. Self-isolation was imposed everywhere when in January, one virus brought the entire world to its knees. All of a sudden, schools, colleges, and offices worldwide were shut down. Unprecedented challenges were staring in our faces. One of them was to work from home.

I was never comfortable with the idea of working from home. For me, home was a space to unwind, relax, read a book, and write a journal. But now, the lines were blurred between home and office and I had no idea how to work and not work at the same time. It wasn’t until a few days into self-quarantine when I began to understand where I was going wrong. To my surprise, it was self-quarantine itself that taught me the art of working from home that was a problem to begin with.

Keep your mind relaxed

It is easier to work from the office where everyone is focused on working towards one common goal. But when you are surrounded by young children and family members, being productive becomes wishful thinking. When you have a joint family, you are never self-quarantined. Helping them with chores would drain my energy, leaving me with little or no time to finish any of my work. It was then I learned the importance of unwinding; taking a stroll in a breezy evening, letting your stress leave your body. It’s true, a tired mind cannot help you win any race.

Planning is everything

Under self-quarantine work can turn overwhelming with never-ending conference calls and discussions. I was asking myself whether I will be able to meet deadlines or set my priorities right? These questions were running through my mind throughout the day. Time management became a challenge. There were cracks in my planning through which many small tasks were slipping through. It was the day when I learned, without planning you can’t achieve anything.

To relax, I began to spend more time in my garden. Nature has its way to heal your wounds and make you calm.

Sometimes all you need is a perspective

I often found myself working on the weekends too, finishing my assignments from the previous day. I had a newfound respect for freelancers and YouTube bloggers who work from home. I wondered how they managed it all, while I was still struggling to finish my work. I needed a perspective to make the best of working from home the new normal. It was then I decided to create a dedicated routine or process to work, to enhance my productivity while finding time to unwind as well.

Find your sweet spot

Under normal circumstances, staying at home for weeks together would have been a perfect way to blow off some steam. I would have finished a book or two or learned new recipes. But in lockdown, every day was overbearing. However, my team was encouraging and helpful. They gave me tips to boost productivity and morale. One such idea was to not make my bedroom my workplace.

I was also advised that working from your bed or a couch could make you procrastinate. So, I fixed a study table in the living room; rearranged it to make it look more like my work cubicle. To my surprise, this small shift helped me focus better and finish my tasks on time. I even created a timetable to follow a dedicated routine to work efficiently. I fixed my working hours—set time for short breaks too—that helped me keep track of the workload and my stress levels.

For the days that followed, I kept on making positive changes. I decided to start early to get a head start for my workday. I even set ground rules for my parents and other family members to not disturb me while working unless there is an emergency. To relax, I began to spend more time in my garden. Nature has its way to heal your wounds and make you calm.

The most important lesson I learned while working from home was the need for efficient communication. I made sure that after sending emails, I should drop a message to the concerned person so that they don’t miss anything. Gradually, I found my sweet spot between what works and what doesn’t work for me during self-isolation.

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