The nation has gone quiet. Overnight, South Africa came to a grinding halt. Entire industries including aviation, hospitality, and some of education have been forced to shut down completely. Fortunately for others, the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic are largely limited to a change in the way of running things. Entire companies are running from their employees’ homes.
“All of a sudden your distinct life roles have collided and somehow you need to fulfil them all; you need to be a parent, a partner, and a colleague all at once.”
Working from home comes with its challenges to say the least. With schools closed or working online, children are cooped up at home needing activities to keep them busy, spouses are also at home either working remotely or waiting this lock down out. The house is full and you need to get on with your daily tasks. All of a sudden your distinct life roles have collided and somehow you need to fulfil them all; you need to be a parent, a partner, and a colleague all at once.
It’s a stressful situation. So here are some tips on keeping it together and still performing well in each of your life roles.
1. Establish a working from home routine.
When working at home it’s easy to sleep late and lounge around all day. It’s important to establish a routine in an effort to reach some discipline. Wake up at your usual time. Get ready as you normally would. Psychologically, when you have a steady morning routine, you are warming yourself up for the day’s tasks. When you’re warmed up and prepared for the day you’re in the right head space to get to work.
Sit down for a wholesome breakfast – you definitely have time for this when you’re not commuting. And begin work at your usual time. Remember to take breaks throughout the day and clock out at your usual time.
“When you have a steady morning routine, you are warming yourself up.”
2. Keep a little separation.
One of the challenges with working from home is the suite of distractions. Another challenge is getting into and out of the work mind-set. Setting up a routine will help, but you also need to set up a designated work space. Other members of the home need to understand that that is your work space and that disturbances need to be minimised.
Of course don’t ignore your children or spouse, but make sure they know that you have a work space that should be respected. As endearing as it is, you don’t want to be another instance of this…
3. Check in with your colleagues.
It feels a lot more like a work day when you chat to your colleagues in the morning. Set up a 15 minute daily check in via video call. Think of it as a daily status meeting and catch up. Not only will you hold yourself accountable for being up and working, you’ll also have a little window of much-needed social interaction that will keep you sane.
It’s important to know what your colleagues are up to, and to connect with humans outside of your home on a regular basis. Connecting with others is quite literally vital. In fact, loneliness and social isolation have been shown to increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent.
4. Set achievable goals.
You know what’s on your to-do list. If not, you should after your daily check in. Put together a daily or weekly to-do list and establish goals from it. This is a great way to hold yourself accountable for your work.
Of course distractions while working from home aren’t entirely escapable, so keep that in mind when setting your goals. Be realistic. You might not be as productive as you are at the office, so keep that in mind.
5. Remember to de-stress.
Working from home during a global pandemic adds a formidable amount of stress to your life. Not only do you have the usual work stresses, you also need to figure out how to play your role from home, deal with technical issues, and cope with the COVID-19-induced existential dread.
It’s important now, as much as ever, to de-stress. Find hobbies or methods to help you get through the lock down with as little stress as possible.
6. Indulge in family time!
You have the pleasure of being in your own space with the ones you love like never before. Make the most of it. If that means sharing your lunch breaks with them, doing fun activities during breaks or planning camp-outs in the garden in the evenings, do it.
This pandemic doesn’t have to be marked by the inconvenience of working around a house full of pets, kids, and restless partners. It has the potential to be a period of joy and love that your children will remember for the rest of their lives. It has the potential to be unmatched time with the one you love.
Work during work hours, but be present with your family and spend some time with them between and after work periods. Their mental and emotional well being, as well as yours, need the quality time like never before.
The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting us with enormous challenges in every aspect of life. We are being forced to navigate new ways of working, loving, and socialising. But maybe at the end of all this we’ll find a world that works a little better, albeit differently.