Guest Contribution by Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
For the last several weeks, the majority of people had to quickly pivot to adapt to stay-at-home, shelter in place, or quarantine orders. It’s a huge transition for many, especially for those business owners, managers, and employees who aren’t used to working remotely. Even veteran work-from-home professionals were thrown a curveball because they’re accustomed to working with a great deal of mobility (i.e. working while traveling or while sitting at a Starbucks), or solo in the quiet confines of their home.
To say the least, the last several weeks have been challenging. And although governors have been approved to start reopening business when they feel their states are ready, depending on where you live, you may still have several weeks or months left of isolation ahead of you. Even if we’re in the pandemic’s potential home stretch, it’s still going to be hard for many of us to keep focus, maintain workflow, and keep up a semblance of normalcy.
Essentially, the question becomes: How do you stay sharp — and sane — during the remainder of this pandemic and quarantine?
Switch up your routine
Even in ordinary circumstances, it’s common to get fatigued with your work situation. Compound that with isolation and the mental impact it can have on you, and you might find yourself stuck in a rut that’s hard to pull out of. While you can’t change much where the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned, you still can do little things to vary up your daily routine.
For instance, if your employer is allowing flexible work hours, try working a different schedule. Or try going for a run or doing some yoga before you start work. Take a long lunch hour (even if you just use it to binge-watch your favorite show for an episode) and make up those hours later in the day. Or, if you can do it, start your day at 6 a.m., so you’re free in the afternoon to garden, play a board game with your family, or do some other activity you enjoy but generally never have the time for during the workday.
Take a few steps back to ‘normal’
Isolation isn’t over yet, but you can take steps to help you keep from getting too sluggish or feeling down in the dumps. If you aren’t already meeting with colleagues and friends on Zoom or Skype, start making arrangements.
Schedule conference calls or identify other ways to meet while maintaining social distancing requirements. Get into networking again, and check out online meetups or other industry events taking place online. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to stop growing your professional network.
If you’re a business owner, you’re likely feeling the effects of isolation strongly. Your customers probably are, too. Now’s a great time to reach out and let them know you’re thinking of them. Send an encouraging note, thank them for their patronage, and tell them how you hope to see them soon. Or, take it a step further and send them a nice promotional gift. In this time of difficulty, they’ll be sure to appreciate the gesture and the surprise package! Plus, they’ll think of you kindly when the world returns to the business.
Start a big DIY project
Staying cooped up in the house can be tiresome and lead to lethargy. After 4-6 weeks, it’s hard not to feel like you’re living a day right out of “Groundhog Day,” with the same experience happening day in and day out. It can be hard to stay active when so many of your normal social activities are limited.
So inject some variation into your day. Now is a great time to do one of those oft-dreamed-about DIY projects you’ve always wanted to start but never had the time. Rip down ancient wallpaper, tear out dingy carpets, or clear out your basement (or attic). Make a plan for your project, price out the rental costs, determine your disposal method, and get to it! A big project will keep you busy and occupied, at least for a little while, until the isolation period ends. Not to mention, when you’re finished, you’ll enjoy a feeling of satisfaction and nicer space.
Take routine breaks
Under the best of circumstances, you need to look out for your mental health. Under these circumstances? It’s essential for survival. Set your alarm to take allocated breaks so you don’t forget. Then dance around the house, pull out your old DVDs, or check out YouTube exercise videos. Maybe even get out and take a drive.
While you probably can’t travel far, a short drive can do wonders for your psyche. Besides, spring is here! Roll down the windows, crank some music, even drive barefoot if it strikes your fancy (it’s legal in all 50 states, so no worries there). Anything you can reasonably and safely do to clear your head and maintain sanity is something you should make a priority right now.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it. The next few weeks will be telling as to whether we can start getting back to normal or start internalizing a “new normal.” Doing what you can to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind is important for both your personal and professional lives; it’ll keep your mind sharp and your heart receptive.
In the meantime, stay healthy, safe, and, equally important, stay sane. At some point, life will begin to transition to something more recognizable.