How are you doing with this “new normal?” With everything that’s been going on, many of us are adjusting to all sorts of newness with our families, schedules, and work life.
I mentioned last time that I’ve worked from home a great deal over the last 20 years or so. For the most part, it’s worked well for me but I also had the balance of working outside the home as well. This is different. I went to the grocery store yesterday and realized I hadn’t been out of the house, other than outdoors, for the past week. Strange.
Strange or not, we all have to keep on as best we can under the circumstances, so here’s a few more thoughts on working remotely.
- Have your own workspace. I am lucky to have a dedicated home office. Having a space that is solely dedicated to my work has been a huge asset and has helped me to stay focused and in work mode when I’m there. Living in the Arapahoe National Forest and having natural light helps bring some of the outdoors inside, which is a nice bonus. I realize that not everyone has an extra room to use as an office, but it’s important to have some type of dedicated workspace. It may be a desk or a table in a corner off the kitchen or living room, but having that space is vital. Once you are there, you know are in “work mode,” and it’s extremely important for your mindset to have an environment that sets you up for productivity.
- Manage distractions. Speaking of environment, another crucial aspect of remote working is managing distractions. Distractions can derail us in a workplace setting and can be even more difficult to cope with when you have teenagers home, a spouse, dogs and what have you. Distractions can easily sidetrack you from the task or project you are working on. There is even research that shows it can take up to 25 minutes (or more!) to get back on task if you have been interrupted. Make sure you have firm boundaries in place around your work times, and let your family members know what they are.
- Keep your head in the game. If work has slowed down, or you’re experiencing a lull, it’s important to keep your mind stimulated and active. Aside from work, I’ve been taking advantage of more online opportunities to gain continuing education credits and valuable knowledge, not to mention professional contacts with the outside world. Both help me keep my “head in the game” during this unpredictable time.
- Stack your day. By stacking your day, I mean having blocks of time for focused work, such as writing or projects, blocks of time where you see clients or make calls, blocks of time for admin, and an afternoon where, say, you run errands or have meetings out of the office. I know I am more focused and productive in the mornings, so I typically reserve that time for tasks and creative projects, and schedule appointments starting in the late morning or afternoon. Another way I keep myself on track is by planning the three things I must get done the next day the night before. That way I focus on what’s most important first and go from there.
- Move. Exercise clears your mind and gives you mental and physical energy. It’s essential for me to get in some type of exercise early in the day, especially now when I seem to be finding myself sitting more than usual with video calls. I schedule that in my calendar, too, just like everything else and try to get it done first thing, before the day gets going.
- Give yourself a break. A good thing to do right now is cut yourself some slack. There will be times when the stresses of the current situation catch up with you. You may be fatigued or unmotivated. At these times, let yourself take a break – maybe get outside for some fresh air, or take the afternoon and get some things done around the house. Switching up activities can help give you a fresh perspective.
- Practice gratitude. Can you look for the silver lining? Something that has helped me in these past few weeks has been to consciously reflect on the good. In a time that feels unsettling and uncertain, looking for things to be grateful for has helped me maintain perspective and a positive mindset.
I hope you are staying safe and taking good care of yourself and your loved ones. If there’s anything I can do to support you through this time, please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.