After Virus Shock – How to Thrive in the New Workplace
Many of us had to acclimate quickly to the new norm that followed the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, it meant making minor adjustments in how they approached their health.
For others, though, it was a complete overhaul of their working situation.
So you found yourself suddenly thrust in what you used to imagine was the perfect job — working from home. It’s probably not quite the cakewalk you expected.
Now you have the reality of your personal life encroaching on your professional, and you have to create boundaries between the two.
Where do you start?
The good news is that it’s possible! Even before COVID reared its ugly head, people have been working from home successfully.
Here are some tips from those who have “been there, done that.” This advice will help you thrive at work in this new post-virus life.
Rule number one of working from home: Set up an office area apart from your personal life and stay there.
It’s so tempting to work from your comfy bed or couch, or even set up your computer outside and get fresh air. You see people doing it on social media all the time, so why can’t you?
The answer is twofold. First, because consistency is the key to productivity. When you’re constantly juggling your work material around, it’s taking precious time away from your schedule.
And second, because your brain has to acclimate to its environment every time you move.
The fight or flight debate is always going on in your head, whether you notice it or not. So as your brain is getting used to its new surroundings, you’re easily distracted and less focused.
Take that energy instead, and create an office area that you can work in peacefully. Find a place to set up your desk where no one will intrude upon you, or you’ll otherwise get sidetracked.
Once you have this area, keep your desk space clutter-free. If work piles up during the day, don’t “go home” until you’ve straightened everything up for the next day.
Above all, don’t let your personal things infringe on your work environment. Pictures and keepsakes are fine, but avoid letting bills or junk mail accumulate in your workspace.
Similar to the reasons why you need a consistent office area, your brain needs a set schedule. When your routine is automatic, it becomes almost “mindless,” saving your thought capacity for handling the daily tasks ahead.
The great thing about working from home is that you get to work flexibly. But the hard part about it is you’ll often feel the temptation to work late to finish up. Or, worse, you’ll want to slack off when you’re not in the mood to do the job.
Before you jump into a routine, first decide what you want your work hours to be.
Did you have a 9 to 5 gig before that you hated? Maybe an 8 to 12 and 2 to 6 schedule, with two hours for a personal break, fits you better. Or if you can do the same amount of work in less time, that works, too!
Choose your schedule and add in time for your personal life. This way, it’s less tempting to make social calls on your job time since you know you’ll have an opportunity to socialize soon.
Part of taking care of yourself is keeping to a set schedule. You may hate that morning alarm going off at first, but if you have something to look forward to, you won’t mind it after a while!
Self-care is crucial to your new life. The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all, and the world isn’t the same as it was before.
To thrive in your new home office, you have to fill your cup every day. It doesn’t have to take a big chunk of time, but it does have to be meaningful to you.
Start by waking up at the same time and practicing your regular hygiene routines. Get dressed every day like you’re going to work. Staying in your pajamas sounds exciting, but it will wear on your self-esteem over time.
Then, decide what self-care is best for your mental boost. Everyone is different. What works to get the juices flowing for one person might not for the next.
Some common morning stimulators include activities like:
Choose at least one way you’ll get self-care in your day, but you can do as many as you have time for!
Social distancing aside — you need a personal life. It’s essential to find ways to keep in contact with those outside the home on a schedule that works for you both.
It isn’t just one-sided, either. People aren’t meant to be alone. By making plans to communicate with your friends and family, you’re helping them, too!
If it’s not possible to get out of the house, there are other ways to socialize. Technology gives us the ability to talk face-to-face with our phones and computers.
Download the free apps, like Zoom and Facetime, and schedule regular times to hang out. You can even play card games in virtual chat rooms to have fun!
As important as it is to keep a steady income, it’s also necessary to integrate some playtime in your day.
The best thing you can learn when you’re working from home isn’t a program. It’s a life skill called “setting boundaries.”
When you work from home, your personal and professional life combine. It’s going to happen unless you erect firm boundaries to everyone you are in touch with.
“Flexible schedule” equates to “available on demand” for many people. It’s easy to fall into the guilt trap when someone asks you for a favor. You can help them, even if it puts you out.
Most of us have a “helper” bone, and some of us have a lot of them! The good news is that when you set boundaries correctly, you don’t always have to say no. You can say, “Not yet,” or “Yes, I can help you at this time.”
Working from home still means working. Setting up those boundaries may hurt at first, but in the long run, it will save your sanity and help others know what to expect from you.
Displaced from a work environment where you knew the routines and procedures can be difficult. But now you have a chance to restructure things to your tastes!
You know what works for you and what doesn’t. Use that knowledge and these tips for thriving in your new home office.
You can do it — and it may even be something you end up preferring!