MR. TAKE FIVE ANSWERS THE BIG QUESTIONS
TAKE FIVE customer James asks:
I’m starting a stressful new remote job after a pretty lengthy period of unemployment. How do I get back in the rhythm of things without burning myself out?
Congratulations, dude! I’m sure that’s a big relief and stress at the same time, but just because you haven’t been working doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten how to be useful whatever the job may be. Everyone has their own way of not going crazy working from home, so don’t worry if you feel a little uncomfortable when you’re first starting. We all know there’s a lot more on our minds right now than just work, so don’t make things harder for yourself by expecting to be master of the home office right away. Even Batman would probably be going stir crazy if he existed in 2021, and his home office is a whole cave system!
Sacred Space. So, you’ve got to get a workstation going. Maybe you’ve got a few roommates laying around also stuck at home, or your home is a cramped studio next to a tiny dog that is somehow louder than a fire truck. Unless your work requires ten computer monitors stacked up or some other bulky setup, move around your place and see where you’re able to concentrate best. Your average productivity guru seems to curse the very notion of getting work done in bed, but if it works for you there’s no reason to not be cozy while working as long as you’re not literally sleep-working. Just don’t stick with a setup that’s making you uncomfortable because you feel unsure where else to move.
Is Anybody There? Whether the company uses Slack, Gmail, or carrier pigeons to communicate, notification management will probably become a big part of your job as you begin the working from home journey. There’s nothing more stressful than missing an important email that came in, so definitely make sure you have a backup plan to be able to see everything coming. Some people are so used to waiting forever when they send emails out that they could be absolutely stunned at a prompt reply from you. It can be painfully easy to silence a contact or app’s notifications with a slip of the finger on a touchscreen, so double check occasionally that you haven’t accident
With that said, you should also learn when to cut yourself off from the work feed at appropriate times. Depending on the job, work hours can be a grey area at home because maybe your managers assume you’re taking constant breaks throughout the day. You deserve to have time not thinking about work, so try to firmly establish your hours and take the time to relax when you need to. If you need to separate yourself from your devices or set them on airplane mode to preserve your sanity, do it!
You’ll have earned it!
Live Life Too! Don’t forget that doing your job and talking about your job aren’t the only two requirements for a high functioning adult life. No one loves the person that only talks about work when they get together with friends, unless you’ve truly got the most insane work stories ever. I can’t tell you what would be best for you, but the good thing is there’s no shortage of options. Start teaching yourself an instrument, join a Dungeons and Dragons group, or get really into birdwatching or leaf collecting!
I’m sure that you’re already fitting right in at your job whether you’re trying super hard to or not, and as long as you’re wary around that ‘reply all’ command, there’s not much you can do to truly mess that up.