Covid-19. Social distancing. Flatten the curve. Each of these terms or phrases are now a part of our everyday language. And, the word disruption has an entirely different meaning in the new world we wake up to each morning. It is forcing us to adjust to a world that appears to be changing with every passing hour.
One significant change is suddenly most of us work from home full-time. Unless your work has been deemed “essential,” we must now figure out new normal for our daily work life.
This is not a totally new reality because many of us have worked from home in the past from time to time. Now, most of us do not have a choice. Some of us may also be trying to figure out how to do that with a spouse doing the same while also having our children in the house full-time. (If you’re suddenly homeschooling your kids, check out this post for some helpful tips).
I have worked from home almost exclusively for over three years. I made that transition after having an office to go to on a daily basis where I had a desk, a door I could shut for privacy, and people with whom I could easily interact any moment I needed by simply walking across the hall.
The transition to working from home wasn’t an easy one, and I had to learn a few new rhythms along the way. Now that most of us are navigating those same waters, here are a few things I have learned.
Get up at a set time.
This pandemic has disrupted so many of our daily and weekly rhythms. Meeting times and formats have shifted. The places we went to every day may not be available or open. In every way, it has altered when and how each day begins.
We might not be able to control the disruptions, but we can control when our day begins. Set a time for your day to begin, set the alarm, and get up and get going.
Keep your morning routine.
You had a routine before this disruption. There were certain things you did each morning before leaving for the office. Keep that routine as much as possible.
My morning includes a workout filled with a good podcast, time with Jesus, a shower, and a good breakfast with a cup of coffee. I always dress business casual even though most of the people I’ll see that day are in a Zoom window. After following these daily habits, I flip open the window of my MacBook to begin my workday.
Whatever your morning routine was before leaving for the office, keep that and look to add rhythms that bolster good daily habits.
Create a designated workspace.
Hopefully, you can create a space in your house designated for work. It doesn’t have to be fancy or an isolated room, but you need a space you can call your own. Try to make it an area that is filled with sunlight.
I am lucky that I have a bedroom in my home that is my office. My office has a standing desk with two windows. On my desk is everything I need for a productive day. When the door is closed, my family knows they need to open the door quietly just in case I am on a call.
You may not have a full room available to you, but it is recommended that you, at the very least, create a space that is yours during working hours.
Work standing up for portions of the day.
I have worked standing up most of the day for several years. For me, there is something about standing that makes me feel more active and more alert. With the current stay-at-home measures, we are all a little less mobile and active. Standing is one way to combat that.
I have a standing desk that I really enjoy! It is a cheap one from IKEA. There are likely several FREE options around your house if you get creative. I heard a story this past week of one person using their ironing board! Frequently, I use my kitchen counter for short stints. There are options. Find one.
Keep coffee and lunch appointments.
Our calendars were full of coffee and lunch appointments. Those meetings have been canceled or moved to an online video conference platform. You don’t have to be sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant to continue those rhythms. Make a cup of coffee or lunch and enjoy in it front of your computer with a friend or teammate.
For many of us, the weather is changing. Temperatures are warming up, and we are seeing more sunlight than we did over the past few months. This is such a welcomed reality. Get outside as often as you can. If you have a break in your calendar, take a brisk walk around the block. Include your children when you can! If you need to make a few phone calls, do those outside. The sunlight and fresh air will do us even more good that it did a few weeks ago.
Clearly end your workday.
Leaving our offices and driving home sends a trigger to the brain that it is the end of the workday. When you work from home, it can be challenging to unplug and officially stop working, so give your day a new official ending.
Shut the lid on your computer. Lay down or turn off your devices. More importantly, end your workday at a scheduled time. When that time comes, stop your work. Any work you didn’t get to that you feel is necessary can wait until tomorrow. There are people in your house that need you to unplug and be present with them. Do that. It matters way more than any task left on your to-do list.
Working from home requires discipline, new rhythms, patience, and grace. Look for new ways to engage your work and be creative. Do not let this disruption keep you from being focused, intentional, and productive.
We. Can. Do. This!