HomeWork or work from home. We’ve been home-based (and online) for over 20 years.  We totally understand how that works.  For years now, our company, Scribes Unlimited, LLC, has operated both online and out of wherever we hang our hats.  Apartment or house, we have dedicated spaces to that mystical entity – the home office.

Now you’ve all caught up to us, and it took a pandemic to do it. When we started out, we were mocked and misunderstood.  After all, we were ‘home,’ so of course, we had all the time in the world. Friends actually became offended if we didn’t want to come to their house to wait. You know for repair people, installers or cable guys, or babysit – for free – since “you work from home, you don’t have anything to do…” It didn’t matter if there was any internet or even dial-up connections (over 20 years ago, mostly dial-up). Or if there was a computer to use (in the days before our laptops) or if the water was even turned on. They wanted you to come and wait – hours at a stretch – and never thought to pay you for your time.

One of our favorite moments was when someone picked up Paula because they were going to “work on an article together.” They arrived at her near-empty house since her movers hadn’t arrived yet. Then suddenly, this someone realized she had to get to a meeting. “I’ll only be gone for an hour. Get started – the computer is set up,” she said over her shoulder and left. Only the computer was password-protected, and there was no chair at the table. So Paula patiently waited two hours and still no word from the associate. She called Paul, and he came to get her. Only then the movers arrived. The associate showed up after another three hours – and reimbursed us for paying the moving company. We left, cashed the check at once, and haven’t seen her since.

How to survive and thrive

During this time of quarantine, we deliberately separated into adjacent spaces. Hence, as not fall over each other or drive each other nuts.  Paola has taken to working at the desk in her bedroom, where our most elusive cat, Karma, has decided that she likes having her there.  Paola even turns on a TV for the cat to watch Forensic Files so that she can edit, work on her own new book series and managing business matters in peace

Paul, meanwhile, is working in the ‘normal’ home office, where he is doing various projects, monitoring investments,  maintaining a Patreon site, and writing stories for hire. He has the other cats,  Destiny and Malkie, supervising him.

Create a dedicated work area.

Set up a desk, computer area, or a corner of your bedroom. If you are lucky enough to have multiple spaces, set up a couple of places where you can comfortably work.  Even though we’ve normally worked in the same office for years,  during this period where working and living in the same location can bleed over into each other, we’ve established different areas dedicated for each of us to work, and where we can relax. 

Set a schedule.

Decide what time you want to start work and quitting time. Factor in lunch, breaks, and distractions (like cats being adorable).

Start on time.

 Even if you have less work than usual, still find something work-related to do.  For instance, we are working on articles, commentaries, and editing personal work.  Save the online games for later.

Get dressed. Don’t hang around in your PJs

Work is work.  Put on some clothes, look as if you care about what you do. It’s easy to slack off when you feel the need to sit around in pajamas and ignore reality.

Separate your activities

After dressing and breakfast, leave your “office” every so often.
Walk outside – even if for a couple of minutes. 

Delineate your day
For instance, before working, we go out to check the vegetable garden and putter around for a while.  Then we come back inside ready to hit our stride in working

When it’s “quittin’ time” again, go outside. 
If you can run an errand (lucky you, if you’re allowed to leave the house), do it! Then come home, disinfect yourself, and set about your evening’s activities.

Relax.  Stop working.
It’s easier said than done.  Especially for those driven. One of the best pieces of advice we were given was by Paola’s late mom Stella.  She told us that we needed to stop. She’s the person who sent us outside when we stayed with her and made us realize that we had to define our days.  Otherwise, we’d just keep working.  Even though we are in quarantine, we still need to do this, or we would be like the Energizer Bunny.

Working from home can be rewarding.  Now that everyone is doing it, we wonder if anyone will ever go back!

Stay home, stay healthy and stay safe.