Most companies are sending their employees home for the next two weeks or more to assist in containing COVID-19 as it impacts a growing number of people across the globe. Add energetic kids (or pets) and it can quickly turn into the least productive weeks of your year.
We are all grasping for normalcy and sanity at a time when hourly updates bring more anxiety of confirmed cases, more closures. Separation from co-workers is a real issue right now, but there are some ways to hit realistic work goals while working remotely. I want to share with you real things that I have learned from the last 12 years of working virtually.
- Prep your space: I personally can’t work in clutter, so I make sure to have a clean space. You may need to use the kitchen table or spare bedroom so adjust as best you can.
- Stick to a routine: waking up at a normal time, preparing your breakfast and coffee, changing into your work attire (forget about staying in your PJs.) Then make your “commute” to your work space to help shift you into a “work” mindset.
- Set a daily goal: let’s face it–business is NOT operating as normal right now. Make a list each day of a few tasks that you can impact or accomplish–and then allow yourself to be flexible. You have various obligations although some roadblocks will make achieving your regular level of output challenging. Maybe your company has severely cut resources to your department or even temporarily stopped operations all together. Focus on accomplishing tasks instead which keeps your discipline intact and helps you avoid cleaning a closet or your garage because your roadmap isn’t clear in your mind.
- Work WITH the kids: they are adapting too and adjusting to internet classrooms, or closure altogether. When you are busy and can’t be interrupted, consider putting up a visual for them to see a “STOP SIGN” on your door or computer. This will help set healthy boundaries for all of you, and give you some longer periods of uninterrupted time to get work done.
- Step away from the computer: just like you sometimes need to take a lap around the office, make sure you take some time every few hours to get up, take a walk, climb your stairs 10x for an exercise break. Otherwise, you will feel incredibly drained after week one of working from home.
- Be social: You will have a lot less interruptions than in a normal office setting, but that can also mean a huge lack of social interaction. You will have emails and conversations that need to happen during this time, so try to turn it into a phone call or video meeting whenever possible to preserve the benefits of collaboration within your team.
- End your day: Pace yourself and make sure you sign off for the day at some point. The best part about commuting to work is having a physical distance that separates you from your home life. It can be tempting if your laptop is right there and available all the time to keep checking it constantly. Make the conscious effort to preserve your sanctuary by turning the computer off, shutting that home office door, and maybe even changing your clothes when you’re done to help your brain sign off too.
There will be moments you love this, moments you are bored, moments you are frustrated and can’t seem to get anything accomplished for the day. Take it easy on yourself. Your mental health comes first.
Stay healthy and stay sane!