This temporary social distancing is new for so many, and as we all do our part to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, here is a guide to help you adjust.
Our work at Wear Your Voice allows us to do everything remotely. We are pretty spread out as a team, with folks in multiple different states, in the South, on the East Coast, and the West Coast (If you’d like to donate towards us having regular staff meet-ups and retreats, please feel free!). Even with this distance, we are able to maintain a great working relationship, solid and consistent communication, and a good amount of productivity.
We also happen to be a team made up of naturally introverted/ambiverted (and sometimes mildly agoraphobic), relatively asocial socialists and anarchists who thrive in solitude. But not everyone is as equipped to spend multiple weeks cooped up and physically cut off from the rest of the world, let alone get consistent work done under such conditions. Here are a few tips from the WYV team:
Working from home and (mostly) keeping your sanity.
Typical communal workspaces tend to operate with a general culture of surveillance and distrust, and working from home can be an escape from the expectations and anxieties that come along with this. We promise you can still be productive without the watchful eye of a “boss” overhead. At the same time, we also encourage folks to work towards letting go of the guilt associated with not being “productive enough” under capitalism.
Here are a variety of ways to ensure that working from home works for you:
Set your boundaries: working from home means your work-life will bleed into your home-life. Be intentional about your schedule and create a routine that works for you. Let your morning (if you begin work in the morning) be a time for you to eat your first meal, drink some tea, coffee, juice, and check-in with yourself. Let your evenings be your own too. Turn off unnecessary notifications and make time to relax and decompress however you prefer.
Similarly, this could also mean not answering that FaceTime call that will take you away from your work, or leaving texts unread until you take a break. The intentionality behind separating our work and home lives as much as possible—particularly and especially while both have to coexist in the same space—is important.
Work at a pace/on a schedule that benefits you whenever possible: depending on your job, your schedule might be flexible and this might be the best time for you to recognize when you feel the most energetic and focused and when you need to take a break and rest. Honor how you feel as much as you can. This can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
Work-rest separation: separating different areas of your home — even smaller spaces — as designated work and rest areas help a lot. Working from your traditional “rest spaces” can muddy your associations of resting with working. It’s important to create work-dedicated areas so that our minds can associate different locales as either restful or productivity-inclined.
CLOSE YOUR COMPUTER/LAPTOP: seriously. Take small breaks throughout the day and when you’re done with work, close it—even if only to just re-open it later. This thread by David Dennis Jr. has some great tips and reasons for why this is important.
Flex on Zoom: many will now be attending normal or newly implemented work meetings via Zoom. Here’s a guide to making your background look more fun than your coworkers’.
Curate your space: light candles and open your blinds to be intentional about setting a space that still feels open, even if it’s not. Arrange/bring things near you that make you happy. Open your windows, listen to music, or cook; those activities and actions can alleviate feeling closed in.
Plant Babies: if you can, buy a plant. Or bring one in from outside. Some green will help make you feel less trapped and plants are beneficial for our air quality. These plants are fairly low-maintenance and are hard to kill, even if you’re new to green babies.
Buy so many candles it looks like you’re sacrificing someone: candles, this is your time to shine. Literally. Invest in some scents and aromatherapy. Find the most soothing smells to help ease your mind and create a sanctuary for yourself.
Rest! take breaks. Lots of breaks. Big breaks, small breaks, all of the breaks.
Tea time: for when you need a break but want to feel sophisticated while taking one. Tea recommendation: Twinings of London Ceylon Orange Pekoe.
Movement breaks are just as important as rest: Our Associate Editor, Da’Shaun, recommends at least 3 dance parties a day and they put together a (very necessary) dance playlist for anyone who needs to loosen up a bit with some heated dancing breaks. Staff Writer Clarkisha suggests literally getting up and leaving the room if at all possible. Our EIC, Lara, suggests stretching — Yoga Glo provides online classes for those of us who practice. And our Managing Editor, Sherronda, suggests punching things (We know exactly who we are and what we’re about, okay). Just moving around a bit will help wake up your tired brain, as well as help to prevent/alleviate stiffness and backaches.
Collaborate with your animal companion(s): if you have pets, they make amazing and entertaining co-workers. They’re anti-work and remind you to do essential, fun things like nap, eat, and play.
Food and water breaks to stay fed and hydrated: if you’re bad at remembering to eat and/or drink water, set reminders! You can even download the Plant Nanny app, or an app similar to that, to remind you to drink water in fun ways.
Hygiene and grooming: bathe and get dressed (kind of). For some folks, just living in pajamas will be fine and they can maintain the general amount of energy needed to get their work done. But for others, they’ll need to put on “real” clothes in order to feel like they can make their brain go. Still, allow yourself to wear the comfiest clothing possible. You’ll likely never have as many opportunities to attend work and meetings pantless as you will under quarantine. Take advantage.
Liberate your titties: nothing more needs to be said. To freedom.
Don’t overload on coffee or other caffeine: please. You will crash and burn. Lara starts off with coffee in the morning and then sticks to low-caffeine tea mid-afternoon (green tea, earl grey) with herbal teas (chamomile, mint, and hibiscus are all lovely) in the evening. Staying hydrated with actual water is key because both tea and coffee are diuretics.
Ration your snacks: your future self will thank you when you’re craving Oreos at midnight.
Set aside time to talk to your friends: working at home doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself into total isolation. It will serve you and your friends to send the occasional check-in text, meme, gif, or selfie.
Staying connected and combating boredom while social distancing.
If it’s easier for you, rather than thinking of it as social distancing and isolation, maybe instead regard it as a temporary social separation and disengagement. We are simply taking a break from engaging with each other physically while also helping to flatten the COVID-19 curve in hopes to protect our most vulnerable fellow humans.
Here’s what we recommend for outgoing extroverts and others who may not be used to spending so much time alone with themselves:
Think about maintaining mutual care: it hasn’t been easy to stay updated and calm in the face of a continuous news cycle, fear of employment insecurity, financial insecurity, and illness. Many are increasingly recognizing that the U.S. is a failed state, that capitalism cannot address pandemics the way that is needed, and that because of that, we must rely on each other to provide care. If you’re feeling anxious, this is a great resource and this site provides a plethora of updated information and tips. It’s Going Down published a working list of national and local mutual aid resources. We can care for each other and stay safe.
Indulge in your pleasures: whether you live alone or with (an)other being(s), indulging in what makes you truly happy, comforted and relaxed is important when you’re struggling with daily stressors and/or anxiety. There should be no such thing as a “guilty” pleasure, throw yourself wholeheartedly into the things that bring you joy. You deserve it!
Stay connected in all the ways! the WYV team talks on various Slack channels, Twitter threads, Zoom calls, etc., and we often send each other funny, delightful, inspiring, entertaining things that have absolutely nothing to do with work. We also sometimes send selfies!
Synchronized movie/TV watching sessions: doing this with friends is always fun, especially if you live-tweet or text about it. Try this Google Chrome Netflix Party extension. There’s also video/audio messaging and group calls, of course.
Set up Skype/Zoom/Google Hangout Dates: to some, isolation may feel like a dream, but for others, it can be the opposite. And since COVID-19 is making public and physical meet-ups risky, the next best thing is video calling. You get to akikiki and cut up with your friends without possibly catching or passing on the Rona which is a win-win.
Marathon-watch responsibly: find a series or two or three with a ton of episodes so you can marathon-watch over the course of several days rather than in one packed weekend session. Or re-watch an old favorite to see what you missed the first time around and/or enjoy the early seasons when episodes were still good (looking at you Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead). Sherronda recommends watching Netflix’s Dark and trying to sketch out a cogent and comprehensive timeline and family tree. Good luck.
Get sexy: masturbate. Send nudes (if that’s your thing) and remember to always sext responsibly. Here’s a guide on what sex(ual intimacy) can look like under quarantine.
Get gussied up: practice make-up and hair tutorials that you would otherwise never do simply because of the sheer amount of time it would take.
Have a Spa Day: you can’t go to the spa, but you can turn your bathroom and bedroom into a space of tranquility and pampering. Indulge in facemasks, mani-pedis, meditation and more. Pro-tip, if you have a dryer at home, throw your towels in there for five to ten minutes to pad out the illusion of being at a spa. We also recommend hot washcloths, your favorite bathrobe, and fluffy socks to keep you 100% happy and relaxed.
Game hard: if you’re a gamer, this is your time to shine. Clarkisha personally recommends playing The Sims and making it your mission to take out billionaire scum like The Landgraabs (that is actually their name).
Deep condition: might as well, with all this time on your hands. Give your hair what it deserves.
Explore some dope shit: tour virtual museums. Check out some digital art galleries. Read some Manga. Take a free online course on a subject you’ve always been interested in. Listen to audio books. Play Pokémon Go at home. Enjoy a virtual concert. Listen to some live opera and music thanks to everyone from the Berlin Philharmonic to The New York Metropolitan Opera’s streaming endeavors. Definitely look at this interactive Frida Kahlo exhibit. Get some free ebooks from Haymarket Books. Go on a 360° virtual tour of our National Parks. Watch baking tutorials and cooking classes. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is hosting “Morning MeditOcean” sessions with jellyfish and the Georgia Aquarium is live-streaming content. BroadwayHD has a 7-day free trial now and The Sims 4 is now only $5.00 for a limited time. Go on Facebook Live Safaris with the Cincinnati Zoo. Check out some free Scholastic courses for your kids. And, of course, read work from QTBIPOC writers! At WYV and elsewhere.
Cleaning and organizing: for some, cleaning and organizing is a form of self-care. Not self-care as in “cool, I’m chillin” but self-care as in we are laying down the foundations which enable us to feel calmer. Organizing, cleaning, or “nesting”, can help us feel like we have control over aspects of our environment during times of chaos, uncertainty and yes, despair. There’s nothing quite like resting in a space that feels good to be in. So go ahead and hang those pictures, or put up those shelves, or reorganize your closet or whatever project you’ve been procrastinating on for months.
Cooking and baking: much like cleaning and organizing, there’s something soothing about cooking and baking (if you enjoy both to begin with). Baking has a precision and structure which gives us some time to focus solely on the actions and measurements required. Cooking can help us expand our culinary talents and introduce us to new flavors and ideas. Take some time to learn some daunting recipes that you previously didn’t have the time to perfect! Make some meals for yourself and for those who maybe need assistance. Food is love.
Get creative: write that short story or script you’ve been thinking about writing for seven years, create that piece of art you’ve been seeing in your mind’s eye. Do all of the creative things you’ve been lacking the time and space to do. And remember that hobbies and artistry are for fun, not things that we always have to be “good at” in order to enjoy.
Please. Take some fucking naps: we cannot stress this enough. Please take this time to rest as much as you are able. Our bodies are not meant to work as hard as capitalism demands. Do not fall for the “take this time to hustle” rhetoric from the Ride and Grind delegates. Allow yourself long moments to sleep and dream, without setting an alarm (gasp!). You can even log your dreams for fun. We also recommend that you follow The Nap Ministry and Rest for Resistance for regular content about the radicalism of rest.
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed in the face of all of this uncertainty and with all of these sudden changes in habits and routines. Remember that you are certainly not alone and that we will pull through this together.
Your favorite editorial team,
Sherronda J. Brown, Da’Shaun L. Harrison, Clarkisha Kent, and Lara Witt