Whether it was going into an office, a treasured coffee shop or coworking space, many are now missing the structure and routine of a dedicated work environment as we stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Even those who traditionally work from home may find their space and work time invaded by other household members amid this global COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a challenging situation, but we have some tips to help you keep frustrations to a minimum while still being productive, staying home and staying safe.
1. Create a dedicated work space
It’s important to create a space where you can be productive. Things to consider: lighting, privacy for you and others, space so you don’t feel cramped, posture, connectivity.
You may think it’s awesome to lie on your couch or in bed with your laptop, but after a few days you may notice a pain in your neck or back that wasn’t there before. Just channel your inner parent when you were younger and sit up straight!
Make sure all your technology works in your space, too. Do your cords reach? Is there a strong Wi-Fi and cell signal? If it’s a dead spot for those, you are headed for frustration.
And don’t forget to look behind your chair to see what your coworkers might see during a video call.
2. Minimize distractions
Once you have your space set, create something that is a signal to your household that you are at work and should not be disturbed.
Maybe it’s a closed door, a sign, a room divider, or the simple act of wearing earbuds or headphones. Whatever it is, when it is in effect, you can ask your household to respect it.
That means pretending like you are unavailable and avoiding anything that will create too much noise or activity in your area.
Depending on where your workspace is, you should have a household discussion about work hours that are manageable for everyone involved.
3. Get in the work mindset
If your home is usually your escape from work, you might find it difficult to hunker down and get things done.
Try sticking to your typical work schedule and mimicking the professional experience. You can get ready and “arrive” on time each day in work clothes.
Pajamas and sweat pants might send the wrong message to your brain about getting things done. And if you have a calendar filled with video conferences, you might want to think twice about showing up in them on screen.
4. Don’t forget your breaks
Give yourself your usual breaks: coffee, coworker chit chat, exercise, walking the office to clear your head.
They may look differently in your home than in your traditional work environment, but they will serve the same purpose of giving you a mental or physical break in your day.
You can walk around the block, run up and down your stairs, do a load of laundry or clean the kitchen.
If you usually joke around with a coworker who sits near you, send them a text or chat or – gasp! – give them a call.
Social interaction is a key part of your mental wellbeing and virtual interaction is better than none at all, especially during these crazy days.
5. Mentally clock out at the end of the day
This is part of sticking to your schedule. When you physically work in another location, it’s somewhat easy to leave work at work. Try to do the same thing even though you’re working from home.
Of course, these times may call for some unconventional work hours and tasks, but do your best to allow yourself to be completely off the clock for chunks of time so you can be there for your family and refreshed when it’s time to get back to work.
6. Be flexible and realistic
These are unprecedented times. It’s OK to recognize that and allow yourself some leeway as you try to merge your work and home lives amidst a global pandemic.
And make sure to include your normal self-care routines in your newfound schedule. It may be more important now than ever.