Only a short time ago households would go their merry way every morning, reuniting at the end of each day with tales of their varied experiences.
Oh, how times have changed!
More and more of us are now working from home, joined by spouse, partner, kids, roommate, parents and/or pets. And if you’re on your own – we see you too!
Here’s some things you can do to stay productive and positive amidst the upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Designate a dedicated workspace
If you don’t already have a dedicated home workspace, designate an area in the home where you can work and try to stick to the same space every day. If possible, make it a table and chair with a stable seat rather than a bed, couch or floor. This will give you the best chance of setting up a safe digital workstation. (Tips for setting up well at home.)
Having a dedicated workspace will give you the best chance of staying organized, so that you know where everything is each morning and you can begin your workday with a minimum of confusion.
A dedicated workspace also helps train the brain to recognize “if I’m sitting here, I’m working.” This can help keep the checking of #catsinquarantine to a healthy minimum.
Set a daily schedule for everyone in the home
It’s difficult to carve out good chunks of work time if everyone in the home is doing different things at different times.
So, it’s important that all house occupants agree on a daily schedule in advance. Adhering to work/study times, mealtimes and play/rest times will avoid all-day buffets, late-night Zoom meetings, and play time with no one to play with.
Start each day with something positive
Rather than jumping straight into work or social media feeds, start your day with something that will give your well being a boost. Research shows that a regular meditation practice can decrease stress, depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia – useful benefits during these worrying times. And you only need to sit for 10 minutes (or less!) to start noticing the results.
If meditation isn’t your thing, you might start your day with an inspirational TED Talk, call someone you love, make pancakes, blast ‘Let It Go’ from the movie Frozen, or go for a walk outside. Start your day with something that’s going to make you smile; there’s always time for worry later.
Move, move and move again
It’s important to keep moving even when you need to stay close to home. Movement is good for your body, but it’s also good for your brain. You can keep both well with a brisk walk each day, a game of catch, or even doing some chores around the home.
Moving while working from home is also important to help prevent aches and pains that can arise from using workstations that aren’t set up optimally.
Make time for downtime
When you’re working from home, it’s especially difficult to enforce a hard stop to the workday. Yet the research shows that this is exactly what the brain needs to be productive. Once you’ve set your workday schedule, try to stick to it as much as possible.
Bear in mind that ways of working are now significantly different for many of us. For example, back-to-back Zoom meetings require a different kind of energy and attention than in-person meetings. So, it’s important to give your body and brain a break in between each conference call, including some movement and time away from screens of any kind.
Choose your news time
Choose a specific time of day when you will look at the news and then avoid checking it at other times.
While it’s tempting to watch the news constantly when times are uncertain, it can contribute to feelings of helplessness and anxiety which will have a knock-on effect on how you interact with those around you. And if you’re home with your kids right now, they’ll likely pick up on your worry and start worrying too.
If possible, don’t make your ‘news time’ the last thing you do before you go to bed. Better to go to sleep with something positive on your mind like three things you’re grateful for.
Even in troubling times, we all have things to be grateful for. Developing a regular practice of expressing gratitude has positive effects for your body, your mind and your relationships, according to one of the world’s leading gratitude scientists.
Before each meal or before you go to sleep at night, develop a practice of bringing to mind a few things for which you can say ‘thanks’.
Stay virtually close to your community
Just because we can’t be physically near each other, doesn’t mean we have to stop socializing. With so many digital tools at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to check in with your community.
Studies show that practicing acts of kindness doesn’t only help other people. According to the research, being kind releases hormones that boost mood and well being in the giver too. In these difficult times, check in with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers to see if there’s anything you can do to help or simply to ask how they’re doing.
Know that you’re not alone
Feelings of isolation are common right now. Don’t be shy about letting others know when you’re struggling. You may find that they’re having a similar experience and they’re relieved to have someone to share their concerns with.