Humour: The essential work-from-home guide
Let’s face it: this is the way of the future. I have extolled the virtues and decried the troubles of the much-touted but little described work-from-home life in these pages before. The time has now come to share the wisdom I have gathered from experience. Before I begin, let me just say that I wish for a world where this work model is the norm, and not just in times of illness or incarceration.
Let’s begin with the factor that professional careers are built on: one’s wardrobe. “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” goes the adage.
It’s time to throw off that cloak of oppression; you can now dress as you like. In my head, for instance, I’m dressed in pure white from head to toe every work-from-home day, a Gulzar sa’ab clone with a flowing pen and sardonic outlook. In reality, my tattered pyjamas and freebie t-shirts strike a laughable note of urban insouciance. On the stray occasion that those monstrous video calls attack, a hairbrush and a streak of kajal do the trick. On the days I feel regal, I throw on a long-neglected housecoat for exactly two awkward minutes.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Those video calls I just spoke about – they’re usually the culprit. But there are plenty of periods of slow or absent Internet connectivity that can leave you dreaming of an office where you can harangue the IT guys, who are always a mix of condescension and cluelessness. The hack: use these interruptions to actually get some work done. Take a breather from the 22 tabs open on your groaning browser and say softly to yourself: I am stronger than this. Reply to personal mails and save them as drafts. Rid your desktop of pictures from your trip to Ranthambore in 2009. Hell, maybe even pen down that poem about the … aaaaand, the Internet’s back. Phew.
There is no greater aid to overall human productivity than strategic daytime naps. (And maybe the looming fear of making rent.) And by strategic I mean the ones taken immediately after an ill-advised lunch of leftover biryani and samosas. The fridge will pose the biggest challenge in your nascent attempts at being a housebound hero. You will invent excuses to open the door of the malevolent machine, looking for inspiration in a long-forgotten bottle of jam or remnants of a Chinese takeout. By Day 4 or 5 you will have assumed the air of a Buddhist monk, resistant to all temptations, sweet or sour, brought on by your conscience’s backlash on your poor stomach. Take a nap and return to work replenished.
If you are the kind that turns everything they touch into a party, this is a warning. As tempting as the idea of having neighbours, friends, acquaintances and salespeople over to relieve you of the weekday blues is, that might not be the best thing for your stuttering presentation or straggling essay. A simple trick is to answer the doorbell with your laptop in your hands. Make sure to minimise incriminating tabs such as ‘Totally rad Shakira a capella’ or ‘Stuffed Shimla mirch in five easy steps.’ Assume the vague manner of someone who’s just returned from space travel. At this point, the housecoat could help project an air of bedraggled grandeur. The confused guest will be on their way, and you can reward yourself with a trip to the fridge.
It’s tough to motivate oneself when there’s no one around to impress. And so you need a little push every now and then. Spraying oneself with deo before a video call might sound like a poor WhatsApp joke, but I do it all the time to inspire myself. The same with brushing my hair before an audio call. In the less loony area, there’s the commonsense practice of setting a workday schedule. (Let me know how that works for you.) Physical exercise is a must, and running away from deadlines absolutely counts. And lest you think I’ve wasted your time with my unhelpful tips, here’s my ultimate pro-home argument: temperature control and anytime chai. *sheepishly opens fridge door*
From HT Brunch, March 29, 2020
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