As human beings, we are creatures of habits … there’s absolutely no getting around that!
We wake up at the same time on weekdays, go through our morning routines of getting ready for work, then leave the house and head to the office – and in some cases, dropping kids off at school en route.
Now that we are facing a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, our daily routines have summarily been turfed out the window. Life as we know it has been turned on its head and everything we have been “programmed” to do has been challenged…
No more social contact. No shaking hands or warm embraces.
No more venturing out to socialise with family and friends.
No school for kids.
No more freedom of movement unless it’s for essential errands.
Millions of people’s livelihoods (around the world) have been adversely affected, and many still hang in the balance. But if you have been fortunate enough to enjoy continued employment, you have likely been tasked with working from home.
It may seem like a novel idea at the time, but you will undoubtedly find yourself feeling a tad shell-shocked at the change of pace and lack of social engagement.
If you’re like me – the new kid on the block – trying to adjust to working remotely, here are some handy tips that have helped me adapt to my “new normal”…
- SET UP A DEDICATED WORK SPACE.
Having a dedicated workspace will help shift your brain from “home” to “work” mode because it’s easy to get distracted by things around the house. You’ll see things you’ve been meaning to attend to, washing that needs to get done, hear the kettle calling your name for another caffeine fix… the list of distractions is endless.
If you don’t have a spare room in your home to dedicate to a work space, create one in a quiet corner of the house where you can focus and avoid distractions. Try to find an area that allows natural light and fresh air to fill the room. (Yes! It sounds a tad poetic, but it helps with concentration levels and feelings of confinement.)
Set up your laptop, cell phone charger, a notebook and essential stationery items you may need. A radio is also a great source of “companionship” during your work day as it helps to keep you connected to the outside world.
- SET BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR FAMILY.
This is probably the most challenging of adjustments to navigate – especially if you have kids…
Ask your family to respect your dedicated work space, and to ONLY disturb you for anything that requires your urgent attention. Give them reassurance that they will see you during your breaks, and enjoy quality time with you at the end of your work day.
If, like me, you’re a single parent, it will require a little planning and some creative thinking on your part (although Google & Pinterest are great sources of inspiration and ideas too!)…
- ESTABLISH A NEW DAILY ROUTINE.
Starting your work day in your pajamas is never a good idea… Know your work hours and work around those as you would if you were heading to the office for the day.
Continue your usual morning routine of getting ready for work (albeit in more comfortable clothing), have breakfast, then head off to your designated office space.
Work smart. Not hard. And avoid the temptation of getting “lost” in work until all hours of the night. It’s important – now more than ever – to set aside quality time for yourself and your family at the end of each day.
- SCHEDULE MEETINGS WITH YOUR BOSS, COLLEAGUES AND/OR TEAM MEMBERS.
Communication is key, regardless of whether you’re working from an office or home, or working as a CEO or a waitress in a restaurant. If there are open lines of communication, you are able to manage expectations, control the narrative, and put everyone’s mind at ease that you’re all on the same page, and heading towards the same goal.
It’s ideal to have these meetings/discussions at the beginning of your work day, as it helps you get focused for the day ahead, and sets the tone for the remainder of the day. Tasks and assignments are clearly laid out, so everyone knows what the expectations are, what they’re working on (and towards).
We live in an age of technology … use it to keep your colleagues updated whenever necessary – even if it’s by way of a simple WhatsApp message or Google Hangouts call.
- TAKE BREAKS.
Just as our electronic appliances like cell phones need to be recharged, so do our bodies and our brains.
Be diligent about taking at least one coffee (or tea) break in the morning and the afternoon, along with a short break for lunch.
Move away from your office space, and if possible, take a walk in the garden or sit outside in the fresh air for 5 minutes to recharge. Gather your thoughts and mentally gear yourself up for the next task of the day.
It’s a myth that it takes only 21 days to form a new habit… A study published in the European Journal of Psychology found that whilst a new habit can be formed in anything from 18 to 254 days, it takes on average 66 days before a new behaviour becomes automatic.
It’s anybody’s guess how long it will take to flatten the curve of this monster virus, or how long it will take for us to resume our “normal” lives as we once knew it, but until then, be kind and patient with yourself while you adjust to your new work routine, and reach out to friends, family and colleagues for support.
For everyone that’s in lockdown, take comfort in knowing that we are all playing our respective parts in this war we are facing. Please continue to exercise self-isolation, social distancing, washing our hands, and where possible, take a moment to thank, supporting and acknowledging our war’s frontline army… the men and women working tirelessly to treat the sick, and those working behind the scenes to keep us safe, fed, fueled and supported during this crisis.
From our Mi-C3 family to yours … Stay safe!