There can be discomfort about working from home during this transformational time. We are human beings who like our routines. Involuntary and unexpected change is very low on the scale of experiences we desire.
Since we enjoy the process of getting up, getting ready for the day, having something to do, having set schedules, and the same for our children, this can be a tough transition. But this circumstance has thrown everything off. Hence the need for this post, to give you a few tips about working from home to hopefully help get us through this time so you can remain as productive, focused, and clear-minded as possible. Let's jump in.
1: BE PATIENT & KIND WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS
We do not deal with involuntary and unexpected changes well. It happens to trigger grief since we lose our sense of normalcy that we find safe. A potential rollercoaster of emotions is to be expected. If you find yourself in this place, allow yourself to feel and process any discomfort that shows up.
You also may find yourself in a place of judgment about your level of professional productivity or abilities to juggle work/parenting/relationships or your overall worth and value. Stop! Give yourself some time to find an equilibrium that fits into this time. Remember, this is temporary.
Usually, when we are thrown an unexpected change, our defense mechanisms are triggered. We find ourselves in a state of resistance, or denial about the truth, or become over-analytical, or try to fix the problem. It takes some time to build awareness of what you are experiencing because grief is the motherload of all emotions. Give yourself permission to process one step at a time. You don't have to, nor can you realistically, have all the answers right now, and that's okay!
Remember, everything is in flux, and everyone is a bit thrown off right now, so be kind and patient.
2: STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE
To keep some sense of normalcy during this time, keep your routine as consistent as possible. This helps your body adapt to the change in a more graceful manner and helps you go back to your norm when this is all said & done. Try implementing these factors:
Make your remote morning and evening routines as similar to your in-office schedule as possible. Wake up & go to be around your "normal" time. Maintain your eating & workout schedule as much as possible. Do this for your children as well, if applicable, to make the day run more smoothly.
For parents: Here's a Daily Schedule (customizable excel/pdf printout) to both keep your work priorities organized as well as create at-home learning/activity plans for the children. Making a plan ahead of time helps free up mental space and energy throughout the day. At the end of each day, identify what worked well versus what didn't and use this to inform the following day's schedule. If you need additional ideas for the children's schedule, either reach out to their teachers for the advice of what they do to keep them occupied or tap into the abundance of homeschooling resources available on the internet. YouTube is my personal favorite.
Maintain your hygiene. Be sure to brush your teeth, shower, put on actual clothing, groom, etc. to maintain a healthy level of self-care. It's easy to allow this practice to become very lax when working from home, but that usually leads us to feel less productive and less motivated as we move through the day. Putting in this simple effort triggers your body to get into "working" mode more easily. Be sure to listen to yourself, so you are giving yourself what you need to remain as healthy and aware as possible.
3: KEEP MOVING & PROPER NUTRITION
Since you're home and that's usually our comfy, relaxation zone, it's easy to become lethargic, which opens the door for depression/anxiety to creep in. So be sure you are listening to your body. If you're feeling restless or bored, it means you need movement. When hungry - eat, when tired - rest, when feeling alone - connect with your loved ones.
So be sure you are eating balanced meals, take breaks throughout the day to walk around, drink water, stay away from starches and sugars. Take care of your body. Go for a walk if you can. This is also great for helping the children exert some healthy energy.
4: CREATE A FUNCTIONAL WORKSPACE
Again, home is usually a place to unwind and get away from work. So being on the couch to work is probably not going to be motivating. If you have an office, use it. If not, get creative. Set up a work zone that is as away from the chaos as you can be. I realize this may be easier for some than others - but again, get creative. Give the children a proper work zone as well, so they know when it's time to work versus play/relax. This helps our minds go into a mode of productivity and focus.
Important note: give yourself a time to start work and a time to end. Just because you're home doesn't mean it's healthy to work 12-14 hour days. Getting into this unhealthy pattern diminishes your level of productivity because there is a lack of balance in your life. We need balance! Balance requires you to be intentional about creating it.
5: LIMIT UNHEALTHY MEDIA
Yes, stay informed! Keep yourself abreast of what is happening in your state, community, employer, schools, etc. But also allow yourself to do this in a well-tempered way. Refreshing your feed or watching every hour of the daily news only clutters our awareness with the worst-case scenarios, worry, and fear. Try to remain in the present moment to maintain a clear rationale about the things you DO have control over at this time.
Find sources of entertainment that are nourishing and encouraging to offset the uncertainty of this time. Use ambient/soothing music during the workday. You can find this for free on YouTube, any music steaming platform, or meditation apps. My favorite app for mindfulness and calm is InsightTimer. If you like to play the television in the background while you work, turnon something light and funny to keep yourself lifted. Gravitate to that which is healthy for you at this time.
If you have actual questions or know you are experiencing symptoms of the virus, contact your healthcare provider. Many cities are implementing these resources for us. Go to these sources, so you remain healthy physically and mentally.
During these times of great fear and uncertainty, you may find the discord beginning to manifest in your home at levels that may-or-may-not be real. Be vigilant about maintaining your mental and emotional health as you possibly can. This is one of the only factors we can control right now.
So laugh, build intimacy with your partner, spend quality uninterrupted time with your children, do the things you've not had the time to do, start your spring cleaning, try new recipes, connect with family/friends and plan for the future. There is so much that we CAN do during this time, we just have to be willing to find and take advantage of the opportunities.