Gephardt: Advice For Working At Home From A Telecommuting Veteran

Mar 30, 2020, 6:55 PM | Updated: 8:42 pm

OGDEN, Utah – Thousands of Utahns are working from home because of the COVID-19 outbreak, including much of the KSL staff.

For those not used to it, concentrating while working remotely can be challenging, to say the least.

Inside her garage in Ogden, Christina Miller works on the data side of corporate events and conferences: compiling numbers, leads, opportunity costs and so on.

“My best job description is probably as a data geek,” Miller joked. “I’m a geek translator.”

Miller said she’s been geek translating from home for well over a decade. Her first piece of advice to anyone new to telecommuting is to have a routine.

“Get up, take a shower, do a morning routine,” she recommended. “Don’t wear your pajamas all day. That’s probably the most critical part of all of it is finding some new routine that works for you.”

Include breaks in your routine and when you’re going to stop working for the day. Don’t keep the laptop on the nightstand. Answering emails at 4 a.m. is a no-no.

“That’s where the routine keeps structure, so you don’t like suddenly have your whole life become work, work, work and more work,” Miller said.

Miller said having a dedicated space for work can help parents manage that work-life balance easier. Or, at least make it clearer for the rest of the family.

“You can lock the door and say, ‘Stay out and leave me alone. I’m working right now,’” Miller said.

For her, music in the background helps her focus while the TV distracts. The opposite might be true for others while some may work better with no noise at all.

Telecommuter Christina Miller recommends getting noise-canceling headphones to help block distracting neighborhood noise.

“You are going to have to try it out and see what preferences you like,” she said. “But, it doesn’t take that long and you will find something that works really well.”

To help her stay on task, Miller is a believer in to-do lists. They don’t have to be anything fancy.

“I use the notepad and just write out my daily list and keep that going and see what I need to do,” she advised.

She also breaks her workday down into two-hour chunks.

“I try to focus in two-hour work spurts and so I’ll work on email for two hours, and then I’ll switch to a project for two hours and I take breaks in between those times,” Miller said. “So, that helps my brain focus for that two-hour amount of time so I’m not thinking I have to focus for an entire, eight-hour day.”

As part of that, she’ll turn off her email notifications.

“I do my email at a set time and do that very specifically so that I’m not being consumed by that bombardment of emails coming in with that pressure, ‘Oh, I’ve got to respond to that email!’” she explained. “Now, I control my workflow and what I am doing.”

And, a must for Miller: Make your workspace as enjoyable as possible.

“Surround yourself with things that make you feel calm. You have a lot more freedom in your office. So, that keeps me from getting overwhelmed…surrounding by things that you love and make you feel good,” Miller said. “All of that helps me be more content and stay motivated and not get distracted.”

Also, she said, be sure your home workspace is set up ergonomically so you’re not hurting yourself.

Having a decent, comfortable office chair will help you stay focused on your job and not your back pain.

Coronavirus Resources  

How Do I Prevent It?  

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:  

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick  
  • Avoid touching your face  
  • Stay home when you are sick  
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.  

How To Get Help  

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.   

Additional Resources  

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov. 

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Gephardt: Advice For Working At Home From A Telecommuting Veteran