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Professional Homebodies: How to Stay Sane While Working at Home

Kyle A. Massa
Speculative Fiction Author
Published May 10, 2020

remote work

Morning commute: descending the stairs. Favorite lunch spot: the fridge. Current coworkers: cats.

If this sounds familiar, you must be working from home. Many people are these days. If you’ve never done it before, you might be finding it challenging to stay focused and productive.

You’re not alone. Working from home sounds fun, but it can be a difficult transition, especially for those accustomed to office environments. I’ve worked remotely for several years, so I’ve compiled some tips that might help you. Rather than preach the standard “stick to a schedule” or “reduce distractions” spiel, these tips are a little different. Let’s get into them.

Contents:
  1. Play Music
  2. Use Video Whenever Possible
  3. Rearrange Your Furniture
  4. Parting Thoughts

Play Music

I don’t know about you, but most offices I’ve worked in don’t encourage loud music. However, if you’re working alone at home, you can listen to any music at any volume. For writers especially, music can stimulate creativity. Just ask Stephen King, who blasts rock music while he writes.

Of course, you might find some music distracting. I know I can't listen to anything with lyrics, or else it draws too much focus from my writing. Therefore, I opt for instrumentals, classical music, or jazz.

Why is music so important? Well, you’ve probably noticed how quiet things can get all by yourself. I find that silence increases one’s feeling of isolation, which diminishes productivity. Music fills that silence and hopefully boosts one’s mood as a result.

Of course, if you need peace and quiet to be productive, feel free to ignore this suggestion. Everyone is productive in different ways!

Use Video Whenever Possible

If you’re conducting meetings with clients or coworkers, I recommend opting for video. The reason is probably obvious. It’s nice to see a familiar face!

Fortunately, there are plenty of free video conferencing software options available to us, including Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype. They all have their pros and cons, so try them out and see which works best for you. I recommend Zoom because you get a Brady Bunch-style display of meeting invitees, but the choice is yours.

It’s no substitute for in-person meetings, but video conferencing can help you feel more connected to coworkers, even while you’re working in separate spaces.

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Rearrange Your Furniture

I’ve noticed that my cats lose interest in toys that have been in one place too long. There was a stretch a few weeks ago, for example, when they abandoned their cat tower entirely. I moved it to another window, and all of the sudden, they started sitting in it again!

We humans aren’t too different. To freshen up my work environment, I shifted my desk to face the window rather than the wall. A small change, but it somehow helped me feel more productive.

If you’re getting sick of your home environment, try shifting some furniture around. You might position yourself toward a window like I did, or simply rearrange items to give your home workspace a fresh new feel. They're small changes, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Parting Thoughts

Flexibility is one of the best aspects of remote work. Therefore, what works for some may not work for you. So feel free to experiment. Try these tips or test some of your own. Find a schedule, setting, and environment that makes you most productive, then stick to it. Hope that helps!

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Kyle A. Massa
Speculative Fiction Author

Kyle A. Massa is the author of the short fiction collection Monsters at Dusk and the novel Gerald Barkley Rocks. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and their two cats. Learn more about Kyle and his work at his website, kyleamassa.com.

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