This article originally appeared on Relationships Australia website.
As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, schools and work places are closing indefinitely around Australia. Which means a lot of us will be working from home for the next few weeks. Many would not choose to work at home because of the interruptions, the value of seeing their team each day and the difficulty staying in “work mode”. Others will relish the opportunity to try a different approach.
There is no need to panic; there are ways you can avoid going stir-crazy, from setting up a good work space or encouraging constant conversation with your team. Here are our 5 tips on what you can do to stay productive while working from home, and maintain your own well-being:
1. Create a schedule
Trying to create a somewhat normal routine is not only important for you but also for your children (if you have kids). Setting a schedule that replicates a school day or a normal work day will be really beneficial. You should still wake up and get dressed as if it is a normal day, this will help with focus and productivity. It is important to still take a lunch break or coffee break and for kids it is still great for them to have a lunch hour, and in that time send them outside into the backyard to play. With your children/child set aside some time to write out all your schedules, you can have a reward system in place for whoever sticks to their schedules the best each day.
2. Keep up communication
Having regular chats with your colleagues is just as important as talking with your loved ones in this time. Being home over the next few weeks may get lonely for some, so having regular communication will not only keep morale high but is a good way to ensure you can stay focused, energised and productive. Most people will be trying to manage the same challenges e.g. work and life balance, so the best thing you can do is be open and honest with your team. If you’re jumping into a video conference it is okay to give them a “heads up” that a child may come into the room or be making some noise in the background.
You may have family members or a friend who lives alone, so make sure you check in on them and let them know you’re only one call away. It is also beneficial to you to have conversations with those outside your house and if necessary have a vent or chat about what is going on at home.
You may live in an apartment block or have elderly neighbours or someone with a compromised immune system. If you’re heading to the shops it could be nice to slip a note under their door or give them a call and ask if they need anything. You will be surprised how many people would appreciate these small gestures and return the favour. Maintaining our community is good for us all.
3. Set up a work space and work boundaries
As tempting as it is to stay in your pyjamas and send emails from bed, it won’t be beneficial in the long run. It is important to treat working at home like a real job. If you already have a desk or office that is great, but if you don’t, setting up a space that is specifically for you is important. Up until now you might work on the dining room table for an hour at night. If you are now based at home, you might need to create something more established and more private. Setting up something similar for your children and creating a space that is just for them where they can do their school work will help keep them on track.
It is also a good idea to set boundaries for the people you live with, if you have children let them know if parts of the day are “do not disturb” time. You can have a sign on your door or a little note on the table with “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” If you know that parental responsibilities could affect your work time, speak up openly with your team about your plans to work flexibly. You might need to have more breaks and to then log in again after dinner if you have home distractions.
4. Stay active
Staying active while being at home can be tricky. We don’t know when or if the country will go into complete lockdown but it is good for your overall wellbeing to get out of the house. This may be a walk around the block before you start your work day or going for a walk/run in your lunch break. It is important to take breaks throughout the day, this could be as simple as sitting outside in your backyard for 10 minutes to get some sun or taking your dog for a walk after a long meeting. It is tempting to do some jobs like the washing or put on the dishwasher. That should be perfectly fine and is no different than at work; we need short breaks to stay fresh and alert.
If we do go into lockdown there are so many great videos on YouTube or Instagram that can help keep you active while in the house. From yoga and Pilates classes to high intensity interval training there is something for people of all fitness levels. You could also do some on-line professional development that would normally be on your long wish list; now is the time you could invest in yourself.
5. Plan out your weekend activities
With restaurants and cinemas closing down it is important to plan out your weekend activities to avoid the whole household from going crazy. Creating a bowl where each family writes on a piece of paper a different activity you can do is a fun way of keeping yourselves entertained. A few ideas that are good ways to pass the time whether you’re a family or a couple are:
- Board games
- Drawing or painting competitions
- Backyard sport – soccer, cricket, handball
- Movie marathons/start a new TV series
- Baking snacks for the week
- My Kitchen Rules home edition (split the family into groups and have one group cook entrée, the other main course)
If are feeling completely overwhelmed, there are people who can help you: