There’s absolutely no doubt that staying home and reducing the spread of Coronavirus is paramount right now, but let me be the first to admit that finding a balanced routine while working from home has been a bit complicated.
This pandemic has taken things away from us in ways we hadn’t previously experienced. In my opinion, gratitude and empathy are a solid way to manage feelings of grief, denial and anger. However, if you’re like me and have had to accept that you now sleep, eat, and work (repeat) in the same place, here are some tips that might make your experience easier — potentially even enjoyable.
Define office rules and rituals
It’s really hard to define when you are and aren’t working if you start and finish your day in bed. Get up and prepare for the day; there’s just something definitive about changing out of your pyjamas and preparing for a day in the ‘office’. For me the office is my lounge room; shared with my housemate. We’re mates, which is great, but we’ve still had to create rules and rituals while we’re at work/home to make sure we’re not stepping on each other's toes (literally and metaphorically).
Part of what we did to draw the line between work and home was to create an actualised office space. The first thing we did was invest in a working station - for us it was 2 x folding camping tables that are easy to assemble in the morning and store under the couch once the workday is done. Making sure everything office related is packed away and our lounge room is returned to a relaxing home space at the end of the day has been pivotal for us.
Create a working environment that doesn’t suck
Once you’ve accepted that working-from-home is going to be a marathon and not a sprint, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t enjoy it. In part, this involves developing a positive attitude, but work on that in your own time. For us, it started with planning thematic Friday afternoon drinks in the office (lounge) which included the sub-average banter you’d normally have with your actual colleagues including, ‘Happy Fri-yay!’ and, ‘Which variety of $6 wine would you prefer?’
The real game-changer was creating a communal office playlist that we both could contribute to. We both have Spotify Premium accounts so this method of collation was easiest for us. We also both have UE BOOM 3 speakers which allow you to link up to 150+ other speakers of the same model. There are days I’d enjoy the energy of having 150+ speakers all blaring All By Myself by Céline Dion at me in isolation but for the function of creating an effective surround sound system for your at-home office, two speakers are more than enough.
Maintain a sustainable routine
Although being yeeted into a completely new routine is jilting (I empathise) try and use this time to create healthy habits you can maintain after isolation is finished. If you’re working from home and you no longer need to commute, you now have extra unallocated time to invest in other areas of your life before and after work. You could take up anything - cross-stitching, extreme sports, taxidermy. Whatever you like. Just make sure you’re developing a new routine or ritual that will make you feel like you gained something other than PTSD while working from home.
Around week two of working-from-home, my co-worker/housemate and I committed to an hour of fitness each day before or after work. This typically involves a socially distanced walk or workout at our local park. An upside of the isolated social climate right now means we don’t have to feel guilty about blasting our speakers at an obnoxious volume while trying not to be physically sick during a set of burpees. Siri, queue Firestarter by The Prodigy.
In my experience, the worst thing you can do is resist change. Yes, most of us are clinging to any shred of normality we have left, however, accepting the current situation for what it is, is potentially one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success during isolation. For most, the future is uncertain and each day brings a new development, restriction, or allowance and it’s exhausting. Acknowledge your emotions and remember that we’re all feeling extremely vulnerable right now.
So whatever situation you’re in, try to focus on the elements of your new routine that you can control. If you have a housemate or significant other, try to plan new (socially responsible) activities together like trying a fresh coffee spot each week to support local businesses. If you live alone or have lost the relevant social skills to converse with those around you the above still applies. At the end of the day we’re all isolated together, eh?
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