By Taylor Norton (LFNC Fellow – Mid East Commission)
September 1, 2020
It is safe to say that when I entered my senior year at NC State, I had no idea the world would be completely different by March of 2020. The strange feeling of the year you have been looking forward to since starting college soon becoming unrecognizable. My four years at State came to a close with a PowerPoint with my name and major scrolling across my laptop screen in my living room. Our family couch has turned into my graduation stage and soon would also be an office space, a conference room, and a research library.
I started at the Mid-East Commission in early July and found out that I would be completely teleworking for the foreseeable future. A mix of emotions ran through me, I was happy that my work is taking the threat of COVID seriously, but I was looking forward to being in an office space, talking to coworkers, and settling into my post-grad life and the start of my career. I have worked in office spaces during internships throughout college, and I know that I thrive when I feel like I am under pressure or as someone is watching to see how I work through specific tasks. I knew my motivation for getting work done would have to change if I would be successful, but having never teleworked before, and it seemed like a daunting task. It took about a month, but now I feel like I have found a groove to work in, and I am starting to enjoy my position. Here are some lessons I’ve discovered since starting with the Mid-East Commission.
What works for other people teleworking may not work for you.
When I explained to my family and other friends that I was nervous about teleworking, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information and opinions on success. The advice ranged from working straight through a designated time no matter how distracted you get so you establish a routine to work as you feel productive and don’t let the conventional workday restrain you. I am here to say that there is no right or wrong way to telework. As long as your work gets done, the path to get there is different for every single person, and you should not feel restricted to other people’s opinions on how to telework when determining what is best for you.
Expect the Challenges
The transition to teleworking from home is, being honest, a difficult one. Your entire schedule gets turned on its head, and you have to find ways to still be productive in an environment that had previously been your place of relaxation and peace. Transitioning to teleworking from home takes trial and error, it is crucial to find what works the best for you and your environment. That might be getting up super early in the morning and knocking out your work before lunchtime. It could be starting later in the day and working past regular work hours, or keeping traditional work hours to maintain a routine. It is critical to acknowledge that we live in a challenging time, so allowing yourself a period of adaption to a new normal is a good start to being successful teleworking.
Have grace with yourself.
When I started teleworking I would get frustrated with not finding a successful way to telework and would feel defeated on the days that I caught my mind wandering off or I was less productive. Some days I would force myself to sit in one spot from 8:30 till 5 with a thirty-minute break for lunch, no matter how productive I was that day. Looking back, I see how unfair that was to myself and my mental health. I have come to terms that some days I am just going to have a hard time focusing, which is okay! If I need to refocus, take a break! Get outside and walk around, have a snack, and then get back to work!
With all this being said, I am still learning what is best for me while teleworking. This past month has been one of the most exciting, stressful, and exhausting times of my life, but I would not change anything. I have a fantastic support system in the team I have at the Mid-East Commission and the fellows with Lead for North Carolina. I’m hopeful that we will return to the office soon, until it is safe to do so I look forward to getting to know my colleagues and workplace virtually!