Millions of people around the world have had their daily routines uprooted with the impact and shock of Covid-19. Planes, trains and buses have been limited in service, encouraging many people to work from home for the first time in their lives. Movement is widely limited to what is necessary which restricts borders and social engagement. Children are now home-schooled while parents have to adapt and wear multiple hats to become teachers, chefs, housekeepers, and the person who puts boundaries in place.
Wearing one less hat and no longer playing taxi to your children to attend extramural activities, leaves the way open to become the ideal virtual employee. But how? Ella Henderson said, “Create a vision that makes you wanna jump out of bed in the morning.”
You may not feel like creating a vision, especially as it might feel like Groundhog Day being within the same walls, seeing the same people and having unlimited access to the fridge. The challenge is to overcome this and find something in your day that ignites the fire in your belly. When we embrace a positive emotional state, we can accommodate ambiguity and uncertainty. To embrace and lead change within your home, learning to work from home is key to unlocking new ways of doing things. New doors will only open when we rid ourselves of the old ways. In a world that once was, and fighting an invisible virus, we need to adapt or risk being stagnant; survival is mandatory to evolve and upskill. It is the things we cannot see that can create the most significant challenges, but our home environment is something we can see and have control over.
Get dressed if you are working at home or in self-isolation. Changing into clothing that you do not associate with sleep, will encourage you to shower or bathe and to feel fresher. It helps to increase motivation levels and allow a mindset of work or play. If you have a shirt or polo that you associate with work, wear it. Create a clear workspace, ideally choosing a room that you can close the door on at the end of the day. When you have finished working, switch off your computer, tidy your desk ready for tomorrow and change your clothes to something you would relax in at home. It helps to create a distinction between home and work, thus ensuring you are wearing the right hat and allowing your brain to acknowledge that your working day is over.
Determine boundaries and stick to them. Introduce and maintain a ‘normal’ work schedule, just like you were attending your place of work. And, although tempting to go to bed late, your day will need to be more disciplined to ensure sufficient rest to tackle the next day. There needs to be routine for home-schooling, your employment, mealtimes, rest breaks, exercise and attending to household activities. Agree times with your family or housemates when you will be available to talk and engage with them while making sure they understand there are times when you cannot be interrupted. If you do not set this boundary early on, you will be working irregular hours and feel overwhelmed with activities, duties, and lack of sleep.
Take regular breaks as this will help maintain your mental and physical health while reviving your energy to maintain productivity. If you were in the office, you would be having corridor conversations, walking around to have a stretch, grabbing a coffee and engaging with a colleague opposite you. Many home workers recommend using the Pomodoro Technique. “The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Each interval is known as a Pomodoro, from the Italian word for ‘tomato’.” Accept that you may not always be productive – be kind to yourself, breath and change tasks! The most important thing is your mindset and what you tell yourself.
Communicate and make sure you are having real conversations to remain connected. Engaging in emails and instant messaging is a good use of technology, but we need more than this. If you are used to the hustle and bustle of an office environment, hearing laughter, voices carrying across the room and phones ringing, you need to stay in touch. Calling people by telephone and arranging Zoom calls, WhatsApp or Messenger video is more interesting than a string of emails and is more productive. Our social connection online helps us keep grounded and enables us to share ideas, woes, wins and daily challenges.
Limit Social Media during the day as it creates a distraction. It has become second nature to pick up our phones and log on to different social media platforms. But engaging too much with social media for entertainment, albeit to help kill the monotony, can soon become a mindless habit. How often do you pick up your phone? Are you aware of just how much online activity you participate in as you scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube or Twitter? Be careful, though. Social media can create a false perception and cause you to feel like you are missing out or not doing enough with your life. Some argue that social media is more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes. Would you drink or smoke as much as you view social media?
Connect with nature as there is no excuse not to, even if you are in self-isolation. Open your curtains and open a window to ensure you have natural air and light streaming in. Covid-19 requires social distancing, but you are still able to walk around the block, stretch your legs in a park or ride a bicycle. Hear the birds singing, the trees whistling with autumn leaves forming and the rain tap-dancing on your roof. Walk outside and soak up the fresh smell of cut grass and let the light of the sun cast its rays on your face. Create a space in your home office for your pet as studies prove that animals help reduce stress and provide companionship.
The only thing between you and creating a vision of how your day will start is your thought process. We no longer need to fight traffic and time, but instead, learn to navigate our home and embrace technology to remain connected. Covid-19, like any enemy in a war, will be beaten; it will not remain constant or permanent. Scorpio Summer said “The difference between being positive and being negative is simple. Negativity is when you start assuming that things will go wrong even before they do. Positivity is when you remain calm when things go wrong, knowing well that there is a solution, lurking around somewhere, just waiting to be found.” Working from home will change our world. Stay home and be part of history and find a routine that works for you. Time is being gifted to you with less travel, running around, chores and activity, so use it wisely.