The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Telecommuters

Many of us can only dream of working from home. No more rush hour. No more sack lunches or $11 takeout sandwiches. And especially no more long, drawn-out conversations about the loose floor tile by Kelly’s office.  Well, now we have to miss all of those things.  Many of us are struggling with the reality…

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Many of us can only dream of working from home. No more rush hour. No more sack lunches or $11 takeout sandwiches. And especially no more long, drawn-out conversations about the loose floor tile by Kelly’s office. 

Well, now we have to miss all of those things. 

Many of us are struggling with the reality that we won’t be able to see our work friends in person for a long time. The disruptions to our routine and the lack of human interaction fluster us. What have we done to deserve this nightmarish blurring of home and office? Maybe telecommuting isn’t that great? 

Cheer up. Instead of seeing this time of social distancing as a roadblock, see it as a collection of blessings piled on top of one another in a way that merely resembles a roadblock. Count these roadblock-shaped blessings, then write them down in a post-it note beside your computer. For instance: I can finally put that new standing desk to work as an extra place to store dry goods! This way, you’ll have something colorful to look at while you go insane. 

The following list is not necessarily a cure for boredom or a vaccine for the coronavirus, but it might ease your mind somewhat. 

Work where you have a view outside

Being able to have some sort of view where you can see nature is very important, even if it’s just buildings—sad, empty buildings. You may or may not feel less isolated from the rest of society, but the natural light will boost your mood!

Brew your own coffee

I cannot stress enough how good it feels to wake up and smell the coffee brewing in your own kitchen while you’re still in your pajamas. Everything tastes better when you resemble an extra from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Better yet, the smell of coffee grounds permeating your home gives you an instant spark for the rest of your day, which will involve frantically opening 1,387 emails.

Enjoy the peace and quiet 

Peace and quiet is a rare commodity. Now we have been given an extended period of less noise, we might be tempted to compensate for the quiet by using social media even more compulsively than usual. Don’t do that. Instead, take a second and notice what’s going on around you. Don’t judge or analyze it, just observe. For instance, a bird is chirping outside. Five all-black cars with bulletproof windows just went by. A large blue and white airplane is coming in for a landing, escorted by fighter jets. Feel for those moments. You’ll see how simple life is, and you’ll feel better about it.  

Walk into the boredom

We’re all glued to our phones. We treat them like Bilbo did with the one ring of power, going nowhere without them, and if someone wants to borrow ours, even if just for a second, we hesitate. It’s like we’re afraid of our own thoughts—in an age of constant digital stimulation, boredom feels like an existential threat. But did you know during times of apparent boredom came some wonderful discoveries? While England was afflicted with the Bubonic Plague in 1665 and 1666, Isaac Newton developed calculus and the Theory of Gravity. When Matt Groening was waiting in the lobby of a studio exec’s office to talk about his Life in Hell comic strip, he invented The Simpsons. You probably get bored sometimes too. Instead of running away from it, walk toward the boredom. Allow yourself to invent something really famous, like calculus or The Simpsons.

Play some relaxing music that gets you into the zone 

My personal favorite is Michael Brecker, a renowned jazz musician (check out African Skies). For me, jazz evokes the complexities of the mind. It can be fast, slow, unpredictable, repetitive, hard, soft, everything at once. Your mind seems to take that on, operating faster, but with a paradoxical calm and focus that allows you to go deeply into a task that you’ve been meaning to finish forever. (Such deep focus is crucial for success, btw.) The one thing jazz cannot be is Number One on the Billboard Hot 100.

Run 3.5 miles per day

Dr. Anthony Fauci does it. The Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases is 79 years old, works 19 hours a day and still has time to go on television and terrify us. Conquer your problems by throwing yourself into a grueling exercise regimen that leaves no time for anxiety, worry, rumination, loneliness, sadness or any other thoughts unrelated to your newly developing shin splints. 

Meditate for 12 hours per day

We’re still not sure if we’re doing it correctly, but both Oprah and David Lynch swear by meditation, and they both have a lot of money, so they must be onto something. How to meditate: twice a day, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and think of a word or a sound that makes no sense to you (this is your mantra). Breathe deeply and keep thinking about this word or sound, and if your mind wanders, gently guide it back to the mantra. Pro-tip: to be effective, your mantra needs to be any word or sound that does not engage your particular intellect, such as om or epidemiology. There. We just saved you $1,100 in Transcendental Meditation course fees.

So there you have it…

…the 7 habits of highly effective telecommuters. Keep these tips top-of-mind as you settle into the weird new world of telecommuting. Trust us, 5 years from now, you’ll look back and thank your lucky stars we told you about all this stuff you’ve never heard about before.

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