I have been working from home for the last two years and Michael for the past six, so we know a thing or two about creating a safe, productive and comfortable working space at home. We are especially pro at navigating working together in confined spaces such as hotel rooms or say quarantined houses during COVID-19-related worldwide lockdowns…
These are our top tips for how we work together in hotel rooms, which are the most confined places we work from, but they will particularly help you survive working from home during self-isolation/quarantine/lockdown when you have a partner, friend or family working from the same space as you.
Here are our eight tips that we have put together that reduce distraction, loneliness and the desire to kill each other… well, to quote Hannah Montana, nobody’s perfect.
1. You can do it on the bed and the table
Usually there’s only one desk in hotel rooms so we take it in turns between the bed and the desk based on whose work is a priority, taking into account the type of work it is. For example: If I’m writing, that takes priority over Michael sketching out story boards so I will use the desk in that case, or if he’s animating then that takes priority over me making pins which I can do sitting on the bed. Do not get into bed though!
Of course if you’re both working from home during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic you have probably sorted out desks for both of you, but if there is a situation where one is better than the other, say one is a desk and the other is the kitchen table, then consider taking it in turns.
2. So you can walk the walk, but can you type the talk
Given the close quarters, it seems so much easier to just speak out aloud to each other but resist the temptation because it’s extremely distracting. Try your best not to frequently interrupt each other by talking, especially if it’s just chitter-chatter.
To get around this we use a messaging app such as WhatsApp or FB Messenger. I prefer FB Messenger because it can be used on laptops and desktops rather than just phones because it’s less distracting. I find if I pick up my phone to answer a message I’ll spend more time on my phone checking Instagram or looking at photos of myself, oh wait that’s the same thing… As I was saying, it’s easier to get distracted on your phone.
By messaging each other, it cuts down on frequent distractions as it can sit there waiting until you’re ready to answer rather than blowing your train of thought.
3. Coffee breaks not break ups
It is key to have regular tea/coffee breaks for the following reasons:
Something to work towards
Gives you time to socialise together
Gives you a break from your work
Gives you energy
A change of scenery
Set a couple of breaks: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Organise a time for lunch too so you’re not eating alone if you don’t have to.
4. Timing is everything
Just like your breaks, make sure you set working hours too. This will either stop you from overworking or not doing enough, we’ve all been both types at some point whether we’re in a physical office or not.
Starting and finishing in good time helps to make sure you and your partner, friend or family member(s) get some time together in the evenings. It’s important to honour this and hold each other accountable too so you don’t influence each other into a bad routine.
5. Play music not games
Pick a communal playlist that you can both enjoy or at least settle on a radio station that you both listen to. For the most part, Michael and I hate each other’s taste in music so this is compulsory to stop arguments and the constant distraction of having to skip songs.
If you’re looking for some AMAZING playlist I just so happen to have the following travel-themed playlists for you:
PFH Rio de Janeiro mix tape playlist
PFH New York City mix tape playlist
PFH Hawaiian mix tape playlist
6. Ignorance is bliss
If one of you does something that annoys the other then accept that you will need to wear headphones.
Michael gets really stabby when he’s using his drawing-pad-thingy so I have to stick on my headphones and he says I type aggressively like a cat on a computer meme so he wears his headphones if that gets too much or I do it on purpose to annoy him.
Tip number 2 is especially useful here as you definitely won’t be able to communicate with headphones on.
7. Meet in the middle
Organise little meetings with each other so you can discuss each other’s plan of action or progress. When you don’t have a social office environment to lean on this will come in particularly helpful. Even if you both don’t understand everything, it helps productivity to air out what you’re working on. Plus you never know when the other person can offer helpful advice. For example I asked if we could sit down and discuss this blog post and he helped me expand on these points.
You’re not replacing each other’s bosses or superiors to be clear, this is to support and encourage each other.
8. Keep it clean
Michael has the most annoying habit of leaving his shoes in the middle of a room ready for me to break my neck at any given moment and I like to leave my glasses and mugs laying around and let’s face it, blaming an imaginary co-worker only works until the evening when someone actually has to wash up my mugs or pick up Michael’s shoes after I’ve thrown them across the room… so do each other a favour and keep it clean.
A particularly good tip for working in hotel rooms is to use VIPoo or light a candle (BE CAREFUL) if you use the bathroom because no one wants that stinking distraction in their work space.
I’m going to offer more blog posts like this that are travel related but respect the fact that we can’t actually travel anywhere at the moment. Please let me know if there’s anything you want to see on Postcards from Hawaii during this COVID-19 isolation period.