When I found out MV Times freelancer Michael Wexler wrote a book titled “The Work From Home Survival Guide,” I was beside myself. Well, not actually “beside” myself, because that would be impossible. Anyway, I asked him for a copy so that I could review it here, while so many of us are working from home — WFH — right now.
Wexler seemed flummoxed as to why I’d want to review this 73-page, 4 x 6-inch guide filled with tips for those of us who are struggling to stay motivated by our morning Zoom meetings. (We all know we can keep our pajama pants on and only wear a proper shirt on top.) His indifference might be the answer as to why the book isn’t a bestseller, yet. It should be, because it’s hilarious and exactly what I need as I start each day bleary-eyed in front of my laptop in a room previously referred to as “the junk room” in my house. (Wexler does recommend getting dressed every day.)
I took up reading this guide last night, thinking I’d skim through it. Instead, I was hooked and read the whole thing at once. Although I wanted to read the book because I was in serious need of WFH advice, what I found in Wexler’s survival guide were some common sense answers and a new way to look at the challenges of being the master of my own schedule. And I was captivated by his ability to use words like “head swivelation,” “swallowation,” and “brainiacal” effectively.
Some of Wexler’s theories include that when we can trick the mind into thinking that work is not work, we naturally become productive, and that by abandoning perfection we create productivity. He also tells the reader that procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing, if we use it for good. According to the author, there is “good procrastination” (GP) and “bad procrastination” (BP).
BP is something like going outside to have a cigarette, or maybe a shot of whiskey, and GP would be things like folding laundry, shredding junkmail, or putting coins into a piggy bank — all ways to procrastinate while you’re supposed to be working from home. Wexler recommends finding a “procrastinative project” (PP) that “results in something rewarding or revenue-producing,” like gardening or making soap dispensers out of Chambord bottles.
“The Work From Home Survival Guide” is divided into three sections: Procrastination, Productivity, and The Most Important Thing. Once we finish reading each section, we receive a colorful Completion Certificate page, with a space where we can write our name.
Throughout the little book, Wexler philosophizes about why we WFH: We love it, we don’t know why we are doing it, or we have to do it are the three reasons he gives us. There are those of us who can work from home occasionally, those who only dream of it, and others, like the author, who have worked from home for years.
In the intro Wexler writes: “. . . there is a fine line . . . between couching your life in your house and housing your life in your couch, between being productive and getting your sh*t done and watching paternity tests on daytime TV.”
The author cautions us on the pitfalls of putting things off, and yet gives us permission to do just that. “If you are consumed by WFH pressure — because being your own boss is like being your own worst enemy — take the pressure off. Stop demanding so much from yourself. Take advantage of the WFH lifestyle you choose and, paradoxically (word of the day), productivity will increase.” In other words, it’s easy to get consumed by getting as much done as humanly possible, but that would take away from the very reason you WFH.
The guide is peppered throughout with quotes from noted sources such as Chapter 11 in Ecclesiastes, Mahatma Gandhi, and Hunter S. Thompson, who is quoted saying, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
Though Wexler’s teeny tome is written employing the “tongue-in-cheek” method, it does indeed give us hope (and laughter) while we struggle at WFH during this trying time.
I asked him for a few words about why he wrote “The Work From Home Survival Guide.”
“In the age of this pandemic, so many people who may not have lived the ‘WFH’ lifestyle before are suddenly finding themselves working from home,” Wexler sent in a text. “I actually wrote this book in 2019, but it’s even more relevant now because while working from home ‘sounds’ like paradise, it actually comes with its own unique set of challenges. After doing this for almost 20 years, I put every tip, technique, and devious stratagem I know in there for remaining productive, befriending procrastination, and (hopefully) getting out of your pajamas by noon.”
“The Work From Home Survival Guide,” 73 pages. Available through the publisher, Unpublished Book Company, and at online outlets.