With the current COVID-19 pandemic, most of our day-to-day routines have been completely shifted, with no certain end in sight. Many of us are working from home with mixed results!
You may find it hard to concentrate; or, perhaps you’ve thrown yourself into work completely. Some of us may find we have more time due to no commute or normal meetings; others may find themselves with less time than ever. If you have kids, the already difficult balance of work, education, childcare, and general house management is now tenfold. And for those who might normally work remotely, the added complication of one more element can lead to a major change in how you work.
Below are the five key tips to help you maintain your sanity while juggling the new obstacles created by COVID-19. While this article is written specifically for this current pandemic, these tips are fantastic strategies for a better work-life balance, no matter what is happening in the world.
#1: Don’t Panic
It’s easy to get lost in the news-cycle rabbit hole of “what if” thinking. It is completely normal to worry about your family, friends, the future…However, staring at your phone or constantly refreshing Facebook will not suddenly change the news, get rid of the virus, or boost your productivity.
What it will do, however, is exhaust you and your mental capabilities. And your mental functioning is what you need right now more than ever. If you want to meet the challenges of slowed business or clients with durable solutions, you’ll need your creativity.
If you find yourself getting lost in your phone or television, try diversifying your time. Explore that recipe you’ve always wanted to try making, stop putting off cleaning the closet, dust off the paint set (which you might find in the closet!), or even dig into that weird puzzle that you’ve had forever.
Whenever you start feeling overwhelmed, go back to one of these tasks to relax and recenter yourself on something else.
#2: Keep Regular Hours
Without a commute or school drop-off/pick-up to break up your day, it can be very easy for “work creep” to overtake you and your household. While there’s “always something to be done,” you’ll better maintain your sanity if you’re able to protect the routine and balance of a “typical” workday.
To do so, follow a routine where you take breaks as you normally would. Stop at a certain time and prioritize being present with your partner, family, or self. If you struggle with always feeling the urge to check your email or keep working late into the night, then you need a system to prevent over-work. A great tip is to set an alarm for a “hard stop” where you close your computer. You can also set work apps, such as email, to stop sending notifications after a certain time. If you have a separate work phone, turn it off at 5 pm every night. You can also have someone check in on you to hold you accountable.
#3: Go Outside
You should always check your local regulations first, but you’ll probably find most shelter-in-place rules allow for you to go outside. If you do, for your safety and others, be sure to follow the recommended precautions.
Numerous studies have shown that fresh air, the natural environment, and a little bit of exercise can keep your mind sharp, endorphins flowing, and productivity high. If you have trouble concentrating or feel like you have hit a mental wall, taking yourself outside might be just what you need.
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. You can simply walk around the block, take your dog for a walk, drive to an isolated trail or park, or just conduct another errand of foot rather than driving (such as walking to a post office box to mail a letter).
#4: Improve your workstation
What’s your workstation look like? A little TLC on your workstation can go a long way to helping you feel more clear-headed and support your productivity.
Is your workstation private? If so, that’s great. If not, consider getting a privacy screen to minimize distractions. Consider noise-cancelling headphones.
How is the lighting? Can you see everything clearly or do you find yourself squinting? No need to add “eye strain” to your health concerns! If you find yourself straining to see, set up another light in your workstation or order a new one inline.
Likewise consider other elements of your workstation’s comfort. If you have back pain, consider upgrading your chair or investing in a standing desk. If your internet connection is strained under the simultaneous household traffic, you may need to consider upgrading.
#5 Stay connected with a virtual happy hour
This is true all the time, but now more than ever: human beings are social and emotional creatures. Staying connected to family and friends during this time is of utmost importance.
It’s also important to stay connected with your colleagues and work peers. And just because social distancing has put a halt to things like casual break room chats, luncheons, and post-work drinks, doesn’t mean the connections have to end.
Virtua happy hours have been growing in popularity and it’s a great way to stay connected to your network. If you choose to host one, just be sure to follow a few etiquette tips: schedule it outside of work hours, be mindful of others’ familial obligations, and don’t make it a strictly “alcoholic beverages only” happy hour. Perhaps try out one with just a few colleagues and if it goes well, expand it to have them invite their peers, too — who knows, you could end up hosting a fantastic virtual mixer!
While our physical health is of utmost importance during this time, I hope you take these steps to care for your professional health as well. Take care of yourself and try to stay connected with family, friends, and current colleagues. Success in life and in business relies on our ability to collaborate, share ideas, and build and sustain trust with one another. If you’re looking for professional and peer support, please contact us to learn more about our networking opportunities and mentorship programs — we may be just the thing you’re looking for.