Guest Blog – Wisps of Wisdom for Working at Home

Guest Blog – Wisps of Wisdom for Working at Home

Posted April 8, 2020

Working from home for the first time? Here are 11 time-tested rules I learned from years of avoiding the office.

Don’t do the laundry. Don’t laugh. It’s amazing how easy it is to do household tasks during a break. Of course, that pause is 15 minutes, and it’s the third one you’ve had, pushing you to a lost hour. These tasks invariably take longer (darn, where is that detergent), and you’ve broken up the work rhythm.

Take lunch. Don’t eat at your desk or computer. If you’re working remotely, change locations to remain sane. During lunchtime, finish reading the newspaper (print or digital), chat with those at home, talk about a topic that is unrelated to work, or call a friend. You’ll return to work refreshed.

Pushups. You don’t have to do pushups, but you must maintain a fitness regimen. As a former world-ranked jiujitsu competitor, staying fit is essential because I’m eyeballing the world championships in August.

The one exercise everyone can do is walk. Easy, free and is the perfect no-excuse way to stay fit.

The other approach is finding a bodyweight exercise routine. There are dozens on the internet. However, I use Sean Bartram’s “Bodyweight Workouts for Men.” At level one, Bartram explains the exercise with easier and harder versions. The only piece of equipment I use is a chinning bar in the basement. There appears to be a run on dumbbells, according to the Wall Street Journal. My fitness routine takes 30 minutes, and I also walk for about 50 minutes – keeping clear of other walkers — weather permitting.

Wisps of Wisdom: “The worst workout you ever had is better than the best workout you never had.”

Don’t spill the wine. It’s tempting to reach for the liquor cabinet. Everyone has a view on this. Relying on refreshments can be seductive and even destructive. I would proffer two wisps of advice: 1) Don’t drink when the sun is up (and don’t cheat by pulling down the shades; 2) Don’t expose yourself by going to the liquor store. My solution was to order a case of wine delivered to my home.

Hug your tech guy. OK, only do it digitally. It’s critical to touch base with your IT support person. They are drowning in work as they help companies’ staff to work remotely, which can be sticky if they haven’t done so previously. I asked my friend Anthony Mongeluzo, CEO, PCS,  a large tech business with offices in five states, for a single piece of advice during these trying times. “Make sure they have all of their Windows updates applied, anti-virus and anti-malware software operational, and be on the lookout for phishing emails. The hackers are ready to go,” Anthony warned.

Conference call mania. Conference calls are skyrocketing. If yours doesn’t have video, you can’t “read” body language. That means zip the lip and wait until there’s a definitive pause before saying something. If you must share more than one message, jot it down in front so that when you speak, it’s direct, covers each salient bullet and do so in a polite tone.

Dress for success. A recent viral video shows an attractive young woman on a call, and her boyfriend (maybe husband) in his underwear bounding unabashedly into the room (for a second) until he realizes that he’s on camera too. Pause, assess your background and take precautions against anyone (boyfriend or pet) who might disrupt the call.

I’m tired of tripping over you. No matter how much you love the people who are captive in the same house as you, everyone gets a bit cranky. Separate rooms help. With spring in the air, go for the porch or backyard patio. (See walking above). Stepping out allows everyone to breathe a bit.

I have this great book idea. Any idea how many times I’ve heard this? The real lesson? Do it or quit talking about it. And it’s NOT just about writing. It’s about that thought, dream or fantasy about what you really want to do. Whether it’s a formal approach via a MOOC (massive open online course) or self-education,  you’ll never have a better opportunity than now to do or learn something new. What’s stunning is that whatever you choose, it’s often free.

No attention span? I always struggled, but Toggl saved me. It’s a time tracking app run by some cool people in Estonia. There’s a free version, but I pay gladly. Work in increments of 25 minutes with five-minute breaks. Is it effective? How do you think I finished this assignment instead of working on my novel about Vladimir Putin?

Where’s the tech? Don’t wait for your HVAC or plumbing problem. Contact your service company even if you have no problem. Ensure that they are open, making service calls, and ask what precautions they’re taking during this coronavirus epidemic.


Tom Perić is president of PericPR, a Cherry Hill, NJ-based public relations firm. He covered the HVACR industry for 19 years as the editor of HVACR Distribution Business and Distribution Center magazine. His latest book, “Martial Arts: The Lessons,” is slated for publication fall 2020.  

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