One of the most effective ways to “flatten the curve,” or prevent a huge spike in the number of people who get sick at once, is to practice social distancing. We want to maximize the likelihood that sick people get adequate healthcare. Working from home is a luxury that only some businesses can afford, but if your company can operate with you working from home, consider these tips on how to keep your spirits up and continue to do good work.
Wake up in the morning and go through a routine as if you were going into the office. Shower and put on the kind of clothes that you would if you were going in to work. This may seem silly, but it is hugely important for maintaining your self-image, especially if you are working from home for a long period of time.
Check in on your loved ones in the morning. Consider chatting with people while you eat meals or at other downtime during the day. If they are also working remotely this should be easy to make happen. If you or your family gets the virus, that becomes the first priority.
Try doing something pleasant to boost your mood before you start. Keeping your spirits up isn’t easy during a global outbreak, so make time for things that help you feel good. Give yourself permission to enjoy it. This is good for you.
Go outdoors. Try taking a walk, going on a bike ride, running, cleaning the yard, walking a pet, or doing something else to enjoy the fresh air.
Turn on some good music. Try singing along to a good song. Music and singing can boost spirits, especially during quarantine and social distancing.
Set ground rules with family members and housemates. Interruptions can make it harder to focus, so let the people with you know what you need. Be clear and try writing it down if needed. Here are some examples of things you could say:
“If I’m sitting at my desk, I’m working and I need to be alone. You can ask Daddy for help if you need something while I’m working.”
“If my door is closed all the way, it means I am working. Please don’t interrupt me unless it is something very important.”
“I will work from 9:00 to 4:00, and I will take half-hour breaks at 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00. I know that it’s hard to you to remember because of your ADHD, so I taped a note to my door that explains it all and you can check it anytime.”
Choose a good work space. Look for a place that’s quiet, clean, comfortable, and out of the way. Put things that you need within reach: chargers, pencils, tools, water bottle, healthy snacks, et cetera.
Do your best to stay productive, while keeping realistic expectations. You probably won’t be as productive as usual (unless you are used to working from home all the time). Even if you only do half the work of a typical day, it’s still much better than doing nothing.
Remember, you’re helping reduce the economic toll of the coronavirus, and you’re also caring for yourself and your family by providing income.
Annie Lin, MBAANNIE LIN, MBA
Life & Career Coach
Our Expert Agrees: If you’re working at home because of social distancing, consider using Slack for team collaboration, Asana or Basecamp for project management, and videoconferencing platforms like Zoom or GotoMeeting to stay face-to-face with colleagues.
Silence your phone. It’s easy for phones to distract you, especially in an environment that doesn’t feel much like your typical work space. Get rid of distracting notifications and save phone usage for break times.
Make a to-do list to help you define your goals for the day. Think about what you believe you can handle and plan it. This helps you manage your time and keep realistic expectations. You can also budget your time for the day if you like breaking things down further.
Don’t work late if you don’t meet your daily goals. You need to give yourself breaks. Recognize that the task will take longer than you thought, and plan to work on it more tomorrow.
Budget break times. Most people can’t work for 8 hours straight every day. Try taking set break times to stretch, relax, or refill your water or snack bowl. Figure out how often you’d like to take breaks and how long you’d like the breaks to last. Consider setting alarms to help.
Plan to do something that helps you feel refreshed so that you make the most of your break.
Be patient and keep trying. Things are probably going to go wrong: you’ll get distracted, people will interrupt you, tasks will take longer than expected, and other things will get in your way. This is normal and you don’t have to beat yourself up about it. You’re living in the middle of a pandemic, so of course there are going to be bumps along the way. Forgive yourself for being imperfect and give it another try.
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