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A guide to working from home, COVID-19 style

by Chelsey Paquette

I think that most people can agree upon one thing; working from home sounds like a great idea. That is, until a global pandemic forces you to work from home for an unexpected period of time. 

Work from Home? | Work quotes funny, Working from home meme, Work ...

People all over the world are currently facing a similar challenge: maintaining the motivation to work from home. The purpose of this piece is to provide you with some resources and tips on how to work from home, avoiding the situation pictured above. It is important to note that these resources and tips are not necessarily going to work for everyone. Each of us are facing different challenges during confinement, so please be aware that these tips just might not be possible for you and that is perfectly fine, the most important thing is that you keep yourself safe. 

Be organized

Being organized does not come naturally for everyone, but I promise you, it is something that everyone can work on. Fortunately for me, being organized is probably one of my best qualities (I challenge you to find someone who would disagree with that). Here are a few tips you can follow to stay organized and motivated to work from home.

Plan the upcoming week (COVID or not, this is a great habit to get into).

Every Sunday evening, I sit down with my agenda and plan. If you don’t already have an agenda and can’t go out and buy one, or simply prefer an electronic version, Google Calendar is a great place to start. Planning your week in advance prepares your mind and body for what is to come, I find this method makes Monday mornings much more efficient. The level of detail in which you prepare your week is up to you. I tend to go the more detailed route, planning my day, down to the hour, noting:

  • Work periods 
  • Breaks 
  • Self-care periods
  • To-do lists for each day
27+ Agenda Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

Not only does this method force you to get organized, it motivates you daily with a list of things to accomplish and keeps your day structured, similar to when you weren’t working from home. If you can’t plan a week in advance, this method can be modified to planning your workday the night before. 

Plan your meals. T

rust me, this is a big time (and money) saver. There are a variety of options you can take when planning meals. I usually prepare my lunches for the entire week Sunday night, and make dinner on the fly, with whatever ingredients I have. However, during this period of self-isolation, I have resorted to preparing a list of possible dinner meals, based on the ingredients that I have bought, and the leftovers become my lunch for the next day. This way, I ensure I eat well, and I don’t waste time during my workday preparing a lunch. 

Five Tips to Finally Start Meal Planning (for real)

Make lists.

Finally, I cannot stress more the importance and usefulness of “to-do lists”, or just lists in general. I generally prepare a weekly to-do list and a long-term to-do list. These lists allow me to see, on one piece of paper, what I need to get done. I recommend keeping the list in eyesight while working and adding to your list as things come up, you’ll be sure not to forget anything. Don’t forget to cross those things off the list once they are completed!

Comic by Toothpaste For Dinner: done todo list | Toothpaste for ...

Practice self-care

I think we can all make a little time to be well. Here I am referring to any type of activity that can improve your physical and mental wellbeing (e.g. meditation, sports, crafts, socializing etc.). Set aside time every day for health and wellness. Personally, I try to schedule in wellness time during hours in the day when I know I will not be needed or efficient at work. This allows me to maximize my work hours and wellness hours. I also set aside my evening for socializing and relaxing. 

Garfield | Daily Comic Strip on February 5th, 2019

Be the office 

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a true home office. So, my mentality is to “be the office”. Obviously, you cannot transform yourself into an office, but you can transform your space and your mentality. Create an office-like space in a place that you do not already associate with relaxation. If you have no choice but to make your office in your bedroom or on your couch, change the layout or arrangement of the space for working, and return it back to the way it was when it is time to relax. Another recommendation is to dress as if you were going into work, as opposed to staying in your pajamas all day. Personally, this doesn’t help me, but a pair of noise cancelling headphones definitely does the trick! 

A few more things!

Don’t be so hard on yourself and be kind to others, we are going through a once in a lifetime situation and everyone is adapting to it differently. Communicate with friends and co-workers. Diversify your environment and daily tasks to help you stay focused and motivated. Start new projects and collaborations. Don’t forget to smile, ça va bien aller.

Rainbow Paint Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

More resources:





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Chelsey Paquette is a master’s student in the Université de Sherbrooke. Her research, conducted under the supervision of Prof. Dany Garant, Prof. Patrick Bergeron and Prof. Jade Savage, focuses on the determinants of bot fly parasitism in the eastern chipmunk. Chelsey lives a busy and upbeat lifestyle incorporating school, work, wildlife watching and several indoor and outdoor activities into her schedule on a daily basis. 

Post date: July 17, 2020


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