We are living in strange times. In a matter of a few short weeks, our record-breaking economy has crashed, schools and workplaces are shuttered, and towns and cities have become ghost towns. All of this because we’re living in fear of an enemy we cannot see.
No question about it: This is a harrowing moment in modern human history, but life, changed though it may be, must go on. You still have to feed yourself and your family, to keep a roof over your head and the lights on.
That means that, in all likelihood, you’ll be working from home for a while. Telework can be quite an adjustment, especially if you’ve never done it before. As daunting as it may seem, however, you can stay productive and keep up your performance when working from home, even amid all the extraordinary distractions and anxieties of our world right now. This article will show you how!
Create a Space and a Schedule
If you’re going to be productive when working from home, then you can’t be lackadaisical or haphazard about it. You need to approach it like you would a typical workday at the office. You need a dedicated workspace and a definitive schedule. If you don’t have a spare room that you can convert into a temporary office, then find the quietest corner in your home and create some kind of physical barrier to delineate that as your workspace. No kids and toys, no pets, and no distractions allowed.
You also need to create your work schedule and stick to it. You may not even need to work your full 40-hour schedule to be as productive at home as you would be in the office, but you do need to keep regular hours. Regular hours will help you resist the temptation to procrastinate and to ensure you’re getting things done. Which needs to be done for your employer, yourself, and your family’s financial future.
Once you have your workspace and your work schedule, you need to make sure that both you and your family respect them. When you’re in your “office” or on your “shift,” your family needs to leave you alone. Teach them that they’re to behave as though you were at the office. That means no interruptions unless there’s blood being spilled or a cougar in the pantry.
Effective communication has never been more important than now. Just because you are physically separated from your colleagues doesn’t mean you are working alone. In fact, to be successful while working from home will probably mean that you’ll need to talk to your colleagues more, not less. Clarity, frequency, and transparency of communication will be essential if the team is going to be successful.
Your options for collaborating virtually are nearly limitless. Tools including Slack, WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, and Google Duo allow you to hold video conferences and share, alter, and collaborate on documents and other work securely and in real-time.
Best of all, these technologies are easy-to-use and available at low or no cost. They’re also secure, provided you use an effective password, and you don’t have to have NASA-grade technology to install and use them.
Ditch the Culinary Pressures
If you’re working from home and surrounded by anxious, bored, and hungry family members, you might feel pressured to get into the kitchen and whip up a gourmet feast. Resist that!
Instead, do a bit of cupboard canvassing. There are tons of quick and delicious meals you and your family can conjure up together from the ingredients you already have in your pantry. Because these recipes are quick and easy, they’re not going to substantially cut into your work time.
If your kids or spouse are looking for something to fill their suddenly wide-open days, you might even be able to delegate meal prep to them! Just be sure to have a takeout menu and a fire extinguisher at the ready!
Let It Go
These are trying times. We’re facing fears and uncertainties and coping with changes that we would never have imagined even a few short weeks ago. As we adjust to this new “normal”, however long it may last, it’s time that you and your family practice some extreme self-care. That can be tough when your home also becomes your office.
To maintain your productivity as well as your sanity, it’s imperative that you take a good deal of downtime each day. As scary as the world may be right now, it is also a precious and powerful opportunity.
Now is the time to reconnect with your family, friends, and yourself, whether they live in your home or at a distance. Take some time each day to reach out via social media to friends, loved ones, and neighbors as well as to those who may be isolated at home without close connections to rely on.
Check on your elderly and those you know are immunocompromised. Offer to bring them the food or medications they might need and leave them at the door, maybe even build a little care package filled with treats, books, puzzles, music, and movies to help them pass the time. And, while you’re at it, maybe make a care package of your favorites for yourself and your family to enjoy!
Show kindness and compassion. Help yourself by helping others in whatever way you can right now. Send messages of support to healthcare workers or deliver food and groceries to elderly neighbors. And don’t forget to put yourself and those closest to you on your to-do list. Spend some time playing video games with the kids or doing a crossword puzzle with your spouse. Use this precious time to do things you’ve been wanting to do. Read that novel. Learn that language. Write that screenplay!
We are truly living through extraordinary times. There is much that is beyond our control, but there is even more that is not. This is a time of care, concern, and caution, but it is also a time of opportunity. What you make of it is up to you.