March and April have brought us a lot of firsts in 2020: The first tulips have started to bloom, the temperature hit 60 degrees for the first time this year, the first day of Spring, the first yard mowing and weeding of the year (UGH) and the first time ever many of us here at the Ohio Department of Agriculture are working from home! Due to the very serious threat of COVID-19, Governor Mike DeWine ordered that all state employees who can do their job remotely do so in order to continue social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. Because of this order, over 100 ODA employees have been teleworking since March 12th.
The first few days of teleworking were strange – it was a lot of learning how to connect to the network from home (our IT team is full of the most patient people EVER after enduring what I believe were hundreds of calls from us. THANK YOU!), figuring out the best way to check in with our managers and learning the ins and outs of Skype and Zoom conference calls. (Side note: Zoom has quickly become an amazing way to check in with family and friends too while social distancing!)
While that all felt weird, I quickly learned there are a number of perks to teleworking: sleeping in because I don’t have to wake up, do my hair and makeup (although after a few days of that, my husband did politely request I wash my hair at least a few times a week), working in sweats and athletic gear, getting to skip the commute and rush hour traffic, and fresh coffee whenever I want it are a big plus. But after a few days of ‘going’ to work in pajamas, I decided it was time for a bit of a routine. So, here are the rules I’ve made for myself to stick with a routine while working from home:
- I always wake up at least an hour before I’m supposed to clock in. This ensures I have enough time to get caffeine in my system, so I don’t sound like I’m laying in bed while working (even if I am.)
- Wake up and get ready. I’m not saying give yourself an updo and put on a full face of makeup (actually, don’t put on any if you can help it! Your skin will thank you later.) But it does feel good to wash your face, brush your teeth (and maybe your hair), and at least change from your ‘sleeping’ pajamas into a pair you don’t mind answering the door in when your UberEats/Grubhub/Postmates delivery shows up. You’ll feel more awake and productive if you do.
- When possible, I hide away from the rest of my family. Having an “office” that isn’t in front of the TV or near the refrigerator ensures you have some quiet, aren’t constantly snacking and prevents constant Netflix binging - although, that is a great way to pass the time! But, it’s important to occasionally make the trek to your “cafeteria” (i.e. kitchen) and make some small talk with your “coworkers” (kids, spouses, pets, etc.)
- Get outside and enjoy this weather! Even if it’s a walk around the block with your dog, or sitting on your patio with your computer, getting some vitamin D will improve your mood and make working from home feel a little less claustrophobic. Although, if your dog is lazy like mine, all this being around means she’s getting a lot more walks, and after the 2nd or 3rd walk of the day, she’s not as excited about being outside as I am!
I hope some of my tips help you keep your sanity while also keeping social distancing and stopping the spread. Stay up to date on the latest news by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.