Keeping your focus and sanity while practicing social distance and living in shelter in place
The Bay Area has ordered shelter in place 2 weeks ago, and my company recommended to work from home a week before that because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Although working remotely is part of my company's culture, working 100% from home has been an adjustment.
Part of my morning routine is exercising, taking a cold shower and getting ready for work. As my gym is closed and meetings started popping in my calendar earlier than usual, I was getting up and going almost straight to my computer. In a couple of days I could feel an energy decrease during the day what started to affect my engagement at work.
Adapting your routine to the new normal will not only improve your productivity, but will also help you to build resilience to move past challenges in throughout your life
These are the changes I implemented to stay productive while at home:
Continue your wellness routine or create a new one
I'm back to my normal morning routine, exercising at home before work. My personal trainer sent me trainings that could be done with the gym equipment I had at home, like TRX and resistance bands and I am also using Peloton app for core and body weight exercises, yoga and stretching. They are offering 90 days free, so it's a great time to try it out. If you don't have a personal trainer, there are plenty of home workouts on Instagram and Youtube. I even posted some videos on my personal Instagram account.
Organize your home office and make it an inspiring space
I don't have a dedicated home office space. My working desk is in my living room. I keep it organized during the week and I remove my work setup during the weekends, so I can decompress. My desk is by the window, so I can look out, and I keep some flowers around. When trying to solve a problem or move past a roadblock, it helps to look out, see some nature and take a deep breath. It helps me to regain my concentration and boost my creativity.
I am a consultant, so I am used to not have a desk at my company's office or at clients' site. I carry my laptop, so I can work from anywhere. The offices I work at have a good ergonomic design, with good chairs, standing desks and, sometimes, monitors and keyboards to plug the notebook. At home I had a Bluetooth keyboard and an adjustable notebook stand. As my back started to suffer because of the extended seating, I got an additional monitor. The new setup has helped to improve my posture and the dual monitor has helped my productivity and ability to multi-task (no, I am not proud of that).
Find out what is most important for you, depending on your profession, and what inspires you, and design a space that will help you to keep focused during this uncertain period. My team usually doesn't use video, so I don't care about my background, but this can be important for you. Organizing your home office can be a fun project and you will appreciate the results for your house and the improved quality of your work.
When I go to the office, I got to the cafeteria, talk to people and walk around the block during lunch time. My schedule has been busier than usual the past three weeks, but I have carved out quick breaks to walk around my building, stretch my legs and relax. If I don't need to share screen or take notes I try to take walking meetings.
Adapting your routine is a dynamic process. As the working from home guidelines gets extended, you may need to continually review your strategies to engage with your team and keep your productivity.
I am trying to reinvent my routine every week to manage my level of stress, improve wellness and maintain my focus. There is no 'one-model-fits-all'. Some people may prefer to spend the days in sweat pants - what I have been doing - and others may like to dress up as if they are going to the office. Keep trying new things until you find what works for you. This process will help you to improve resilience that will be useful throughout your life.