As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, you may find yourself in a work from home (WFH) situation. With the right effort, you can stay productive while taking care of yourself and your loved ones.
To a certain degree, everyone is in the same boat, but your situation is likely unfolding uniquely. Have compassion, understanding, and empathy for everyone involved. Self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges, but along with these challenges lies the opportunity for new perspectives to emerge.
Going about your work life in a new way can lead to positive shifts and growth. This extraordinary situation allows you to rethink all areas of your life. Continue reading to learn how you can stay at the top of your professional game during these unprecedented times.
1. Designate a workspace
Set up an area of your house to use as a workspace. Sitting down in this space sends a clear signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. Stay away from your designated workspace when you’re not working.
Once you’ve completed your workday, resist the urge to check in with any professional obligations until you begin work again.
2. Move around
If creating a mobile workspace helps you concentrate, set up a few spaces in your house where you can work. This may help your posture since you’ll change up your seated position. Giving yourself a set amount of time in each location may help you manage your time.
Make sure that your workspace is ergonomic. This will remove risk factors that lead to musculoskeletal injuries and allow for increased performance and productivity. While sitting on a comfy couch or your bed may sound nice, typing on your laptop while doing so for a long time could strain your back or neck.
3. Get ready for the day
Take the time to go about your normal morning routine, take a shower, and get dressed for the day. If you normally go to the gym, supplement your routine with bodyweight exercises or strength training.
Designate some work clothes, even if they’re more comfortable than your typical professional attire. If you prefer to do your hair and makeup, then go for it, even if it’s only for you.
Or allow your skin to breathe and use this time to improve its health by applying only serums, toners, or masks.
4. Set a schedule
Instead of having a vague plan, create a daily schedule and put it in writing. Generate a digital schedule or jot it down with pen and paper, and stick it in a visible place. Come up with a detailed to-do list that’s broken down into categories based on importance.
5. Create an eating plan
Plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time, such as at the beginning of the week or workday. This prevents you from working to the point of hunger and then scrambling to decide what to eat. You should also avoid eating at your workstation.
6. Working with a baby
Use a baby carrier or wrap so you can keep your child close to you. To keep your hands free, use a dictation app. If you’re on a call, you can let your recipient know that you have a baby at home in case there are any interruptions or noises.
Use their nap times efficiently, and try to schedule work that requires intense focus or conference calls during these times.
You may want to have a conversation with your boss about a modified schedule that works for both of you while working from home with a baby.
7. Working with older children
If you have young children, you’ll want to focus on their needs. But if you have an older child that can take on some extra responsibility, you can set them up with some very clear instructions and activities for help taking care of younger children or completing household chores.
You may want to work in the early morning or late evenings while your children are sleeping, especially when you need to focus on complex tasks.
8. Pay attention to their emotional needs
Your children may need some extra love, affection, and attention during this time — even if a tantrum leaves everyone involved feeling exhausted or frustrated.
Your children are tapped into your emotions, as well as the overall energy of the world. They may have a difficult time adjusting to a new routine or feel overstimulated.
Play calming music throughout your home to help stimulate feelings of relaxation.
9. Balance structure and play
Encourage your kids to entertain themselves, but help them manage their time wisely. Set up appropriate activities to keep them engaged.
Children can also be overstimulated, so limit their screen time and allow for occasional boredom to arise. Be firm in your approach and set clear boundaries, expectations, and consequences.
10. Sharing a screen
If you share a screen with a child, make it clear that your work is a priority. Give them time to use the screen as it fits into your schedule. Use this time to do a task that doesn’t require a screen or take a short break.
11. The state of the world
Make your own decisions about what type of media you follow, especially while you’re working. If you don’t want to look at any news related to COVID-19, set up apps that will block that news on your devices.
Similarly, let your loved ones know if you don’t want to have any discussions surrounding the virus or infection.
12. Stay informed, not overwhelmed
If you want to stay informed but find the news overwhelming, allocate a set amount of time each morning or evening when you can read the news.
Or ask a friend if you can call them for a quick 10-minute briefing. They’ll be able to deliver any news gently and help you stay informed without feeling overwhelmed.
13. Your loved ones
If you’re concerned about the health of your loved ones, tell them about your concerns. Make sure they’re taking all the necessary precautions and will touch base with you if they start to experience any COVID-19 symptoms.
Take the time to let them know how much they mean to you, either verbally or in writing.
14. Being on lockdown
Enjoying a day of work at home feels different when it’s due to a government order that’s aimed at stopping the spread of a virus.
Create a happy space, whether this is looking out a window, visualizing a peaceful nature scene, or looking at a relaxing picture.
15. Get in touch
Get in touch with a mental health professional or find someone who is supportive and can help you manage your feelings, especially if these feelings are getting in the way of your productivity.
Be honest with how you’re feeling. Knowing that someone is only a phone call or video chat away may help you manage feelings of anxiety.
16. Pop-up office
If you don’t have a designated desk or office, improvise. Place a cushion on the floor and use a coffee table for your workspace. Or find a small portable folding table that you can use in several areas of your house.
You can create a makeshift desk by using an upside-down basket with a flat bottom. You can use this with your laptop on the bed, a table, or on a counter to make a standing desk. Just be careful to listen to your body and make adjustments if you start to feel any musculoskeletal pain.
17. Clear your space
Create a calm atmosphere. Clean your work area and organize the clutter at least once a day. Use an essential oil diffuser to send some luxurious scents through the air. Or burn sage to boost your energy, mood, and brain function.
18. Discuss your work plan in advance
Discuss the compatibility of your working styles. Decide if you want to have designated eating or hangout times or prefer to do your own thing each day.
Let your partner know if you like chit-chat or prefer to work in silence. If your daily work schedules vary, be sure to talk about this ahead of time.
19. Touch base
Check in and see how you can help each other. This may mean leaving your partner completely undisturbed during the day, sending them funny memes, or making sure they have completed their tasks.
Make a plan to distribute household chores. During a 10-minute session, you can talk about how everything is going and decide if you need to make adjustments. You may be less likely to lose your cool or feel frustrated if you know that you have the space set aside to talk about your day or any tasks.
20. Use headphones
Eliminate auditory distractions by using headphones. Invest in a pair of over-ear headphones that are more comfortable and provide better sound quality than earbuds.
Choose music that helps you focus, and that you use specifically while you’re working. This may include classical, binaural beats, or your favorite modern music.
Develop a plan and communicate with your partner about when you need to be on a video or voice call. That way, you have a plan in place to minimize sounds and distractions if both of you need to be on a call at the same time.
21. Own your time
If you normally work from home, you may find yourself with family members in your precious workspace. Set boundaries and manage expectations of anyone who demands your time.
Determine what’s necessary and prioritize accordingly. Stay focused so you can work efficiently and have more time for other endeavors.
22. Practice self-care
In addition to making sure your work gets done, take care of your physical and mental well-being during this sensitive time. Set yourself up for success by getting enough physical activity and maintaining your mental health.
This can include meditating, journaling, or dancing. Short bursts of these activities may help you let out some pent-up energy so you can focus on your work.
23. Stay active
Even if you spend a lot of time at home, you likely take occasional breaks outside. Incorporate more exercise into your daily routine and make a point to get outside if you can, even if it’s to the rooftop of your building.
24. Take a short walk
The importance of walking has been documented by many creatives through the ages. You don’t need to walk miles for it to be effective. Take a 20-minute walk once or twice a day, especially when you’re feeling frazzled or indecisive.
25. The Pomodoro method
Some people swear by the Pomodoro method, which is a time management technique. To try it, set a timer for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. After four 25-minute sessions, take a break that’s 15 to 30 minutes. Continue these intervals throughout the day.
26. Seize the day
Many yoga and meditation teachers are offering free online sessions during this time. Take advantage and join an online session. Having a break in your schedule may help you manage your time wisely throughout the day.
Working from home during this time may not be what you planned, but you can make the most of it. You may find yourself living a life that feels like an extended snow day or summer holiday. It takes time to get used to the new normal, so give yourself time to adjust to your new work life.
Have faith in your ability to adapt and find the sweet spot in your work-life balance. Pat yourself on the back for everything you’ve accomplished, even if there have been some speed bumps along the way.
Remember, we’re all in this together.