The world has progressively shut down, with billions of people all over the world locking themselves in behind gates and other barriers, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this is an entirely new experience for most people, it is not unique. Several different, well-known professionals that spend most of their time in isolation for work say it difficult, but it can be done.
If you’re freaking out over the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re definitely not alone!
As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world, many people are of course dealing with greater concerns, such as the health of family, friends, or themselves.
But for those free of illness and related burdens, and stuck at home, what do you do with your time?
Some employees will be working from home for the first time, which means figuring out how to stay on task in a new environment that may not lend itself to productivity.
Working from home sounds like a luxury, but it comes with a number of challenges. Plenty of people fantasize about working from the comfort of their own home, foregoing their commute in favor of more sleep, family or exercise time. But working remotely is a double-edge sword — sure, you get to stay home, but it can be harder to focus on actually working.
Actually, any time people have a major disruption in their routine and lose their “social rhythm reinforcers” — going to school or work, or attending social events — it’s a jolt.
ImportantWe can all focus on making the most of this isolation time and turn inward. The social distancing rules and working-from-home arrangements offer a rare opportunity.
Let’s talk about some of the productive things that you can get done if you find yourself at home for an extended period.
Scheduling is King
Be a person with a plan. Make sure you physically outline a list of things you need to/want to do each day. Make goals attainable and realistic so you feel productive and like you have achieved something.
ImportantMaintain regular hours. Set a schedule and stick to it. With many things canceled or closed, schedules can go out the window. When working alone, you should keep a more structured daily schedule than usual.
While working remotely does mean that there is added flexibility with your personal life schedule, it’s best to stick to a schedule where you can be productive, get your work done and call it a day when work hours are up.
Routine is your friend. It helps to manage anxiety, and will help you to adapt more quickly to this current reality.
After a reasonable day’s work, put away your electronic devices and work tools. Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries.
On AirAstronauts such as Scott Kelly, Peggy Whitson have shared their advice for living in confinement. These space explorers have spent months in isolation while completing their missions.
Morning Routine is My Dopamine.
Humans are creatures of habit—and that’s partly because routine helps us mentally and physically prepare for things. Whether it’s having a cup of coffee every morning, doing some morning stretches or taking your dog on a walk, creating a morning routine can greatly help you get ready for the work-day at home.
Raise The Bar
This is unlikely to be the writer’s retreat that you have long dreamt of. The suggestion that periods of quarantine might bring unprecedented productivity implies we should raise the bar, rather than lower it.
Revisit that long forgotten side project. Somewhere in the deep, dark depths of your computer’s file system, do you have an unfinished project or unpublished content? This ties into getting creative…but restart that project you’ve always told yourself you don’t have time for!
I have so many different projects up my sleeves but I simply don’t have time for them all during my normal schedule. Well, since we’re shaking things up a bit—why not invest time into finally getting to that project?
ImportantEveryone has at least one thing that they’ve been trying to finish for what feels like forever. Capitalizing on the opportunities rather than focusing on the threats makes a big difference!
It’s easy to find excuses when there are more pressing matters. But a quarantine or self-isolation can provide you with the time to tackle those projects that you’ve been meaning to get around to for what feels like forever.
On AirTim Ferriss provides an excellent Podcast with VIP guests, I strongly encourage listening to him if you need to motivate yourself.
The Pitfalls And The Opportunities.
While the coronavirus pandemic presents business risks in some areas, it also offers opportunities in others. The key is to acknowledge the potential threats while exploring the possibilities. Less competition = more market share! Across the globe, the reduced in-store activity is driving increased e-commerce activity.
Spending way too many hours in front of the TV? Indulging in way too many salty snacks? You’re not alone. A recent Bloomberg report cited data showing sales were up — way up — for all types of comfort foods compared to a year ago.
In the time of the coronavirus, folks are wisely staying home and self-isolating in droves, leaving plenty of time to peer through streaming services’ myriad offerings in search of the perfect mid-pandemic entertainment.
ImportantYour ability to stay focused is more than just a worthwhile thing to cultivate — it’s a critical factor in your success or failure. Getting things done is imperative, and focus is the key to getting things done.
Focus is what can bring you big success. To be focused requires you to be obsessed on some level. All the greats have the ability to focus.
Find your mission. You can’t give in. You need to do something with this suspended time. Knowing why we need to stay focused can help us push through the tough and tedious parts of accomplishing our goals. That’s when our ability to focus is really tested and when it’s most needed.
On AirThere are tons of things lying in wait to distract you from your ultimate goal. Fast Company has published a well informed article about how to manage distractions.
Turn Off The News.
This isn’t to say don’t watch the news completely—it’s important to stay informed. But don’t let it completely overwhelm you. The only thing people can talk about on social media is the current state of the world.
Don’t let the news dominate your day.
Even the most introverted of us need some sense of connection to others for our mental as well as our physical health. We are in social isolation, but we need not feel alone.
ImportantOne of the most essential steps a manager can take is to structure ways for employees to interact socially (that is, have informal conversations about non-work topics) while working remotely. This is true for all remote workers, but particularly so for workers who have been abruptly transitioned out of the office.
Provide opportunities for remote social interaction. The easiest way to establish some basic social interaction includes virtual pizza parties (in which pizza is delivered to all team members at the time of a videoconference). While these types of events may sound artificial or forced, experienced managers of remote workers report that they help reduce feelings of isolation, promoting a sense of belonging.
The Perfect Remote Worker Armory. For companies or small businesses who do not regularly work from home, it seems there are a thousand tools out there that every company ‘must-have’ to successfully work remotely. Slack for communicating with work colleagues throughout the day and sending memes to keep spirits up. Google Hangouts is the future of face-to-face meetings.
Hashtag Your Business.
COVID-19 will bring with it a crisis of loneliness — and to solve it, we’re going to have to get creative. With rapidly changing market conditions due to COVID-19, communicating with customers via social media has never been more important. It might be imperative business owners embrace the instantaneous nature of social media to keep stakeholders and clients informed. If your business closes or slows down, it is the ideal time to strategise, create content and expand your online offering.
Don’t neglect your physical and mental health. Meditate. Do jumping jacks in your living room. Practice yoga. Whatever it is that works for you, do what it takes to care for your body and mind.
ImportantWith more and more gyms closing, it can be easy to slip out of your daily workout routine. However, exercise is one of the best ways to boost your endorphins and make you feel better.
Rather than letting the isolation scare you, why not, instead, try and embrace it as an opportunity to get your sweat on with new, at-home workouts you’ve never tried before, incorporate more simplistic healthy habits into your daily routine and mix things up a little.
Not only are there a plethora of physical health benefits that come from moving around more, but, especially during this pandemic, exercise can take your mind off the distressing news and give you something else to focus on.
Running the Stairs! It’s stairs, guys. Most of us can access them in some capacity that requires little to no exposure to the outside world. And while it may feel a little old school, running stairs is actually an amazing way to exercise. Rocky did it. Who are we to question Rocky’s methods?
Health is Contagious.
Along with working out, there are a lot of other things you can do to help your body (and eliminate stress). Stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time every day. We need to get enough sleep to reduce stress and stay healthy. Sleep is a factor in keeping the immune system strong so it can fight off exposures and infections, and it plays an important role in cellular repair functions.
Keeping things fun and lighthearted can be useful for helping to beat cabin-fever and boredom. One upside of your home confinement is that you no longer need to spend time commuting back and forth to work.
Staying at home for extended periods of time can be a challenge but an opportunity too.
Can you reallocate that time to doing something that will bring you joy—or, at the very least, alleviate some stress?
ImportantWash your hands, regularly wipe down the things you touch frequently, and try to use the time to accomplish something productive and useful.
If you’re stuck at home, volunteer or support a worthy cause during this time.
Your community needs all the help it can get right now, especially the elderly and immunocompromised. They might not vocalize it but there’s a good chance they could use a helping hand.
If you’re a manager you should know that effective leaders take a two-pronged approach, both acknowledging the stress and anxiety that employees may be feeling in difficult circumstances, but also providing affirmation of their confidence in their teams.
By embracing good mental-health and well-being measures, and by relying on others when necessary, we can protect ourselves and those around us.
It’s an incredibly turbulent time for most of us. Take care of yourself and others!
If you enjoyed the article or have any comments, recommendations, or tips for improvement please do comment below.
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.