To say we are experiencing trying times is the understatement of the century; we are all in unchartered territory! I was telling my girlfriend earlier today how stressful it is to do the normal mundane tasks like grocery shopping, getting gas, going to the doctor and everything in between. My mom had a procedure last week, normally I would go with her and sit in the family waiting room; I had to “drop” her off and wait for a call to give me an update that she was out of surgery and in recovery and when I could pick her up. My life during COVID-19 has been flipped upside down. I was laid off from my job at the end of February right before this Pandemic hit, Michael was furloughed from his job 3 weeks ago until at least the end of May. We thought it was important that we keep our schedule as if we were going to work. I thrive with having a routine if I don’t have a schedule I literally feel lost! Aaron’s culinary classes are now online for the rest of the semester we have all had to make major adjustments. I just wanted to share what works for me the tips outlined apply to work from home or being just home during this crisis.
Prepare The Night Before
I am very forgetful these days so writing things in my planner is essential! To give you an example of how much I need to “plan” my mom had a doctor’s appointment a few months ago we discussed the appointment 2 days before it was in my planner but I didn’t review my planner the night before to check to see what was on my plate the next day. I was on my way to work when my mom called and asked: what time are you coming to get me? Me: Umm get you for what? UGH!!! She had to reschedule her appointment. I have also added calendar blocking back in my rotation using Google Calendar. Calendar Blocking takes some effort to do initially but it is so worth it! Having just a written to-do list only just doesn’t work for me anymore I need both. What calendar blocking gives my to-do list legs. Have you ever noticed how long our daily to-do list becomes and how much we really get done on those said to-do lists? Calendar blocking helps me take a realistic view of my day each task has a time slot, this also forces me to prioritize my day. I don’t know why I stopped calendar blocking but it is now a must! Let me know if you want to hear more about calendar blocking. I try and read an hour or so before I go to bed this usually makes me sleepy and relaxed. My phone is set on do not disturb at 9 pm so I won’t be tempted to keep scrolling social media.
2. Get Up Early
Since everyone is at home it is often hard to even hear yourself think or to find I quiet corner in the house. I continue to get up early between 5-5:30 am. This gives me time to do my devotion, my morning pages, to review my goals, and write my affirmations. Michael gets up early too but we have an understanding that I need my “me” time. With so much was going on I was staying up later and getting up late, as a result, I wasn’t as productive and just couldn’t focus. I am not suggesting that you get up this early if that’s not your thing but give it a try just to get up before your house wakes up. I NEED time to myself especially now with everyone at home! WHEW!
3. Get Dressed
I see you rolling your eyes! Hear me out! If I lounge around in my pajamas I don’t feel like being productive, I just want to watch Netflix and Chill. I just put on leggings or sweats something comfortable. I feel better when I am dressed I wasn’t doing any makeup for the first few weeks but I have started wearing makeup again. Not because I need to or I don’t like myself without makeup it’s a pick me up makes me feel better!
4. Turn Off The Noise
I give myself 30 minutes a day of COVID 19 news coverage. It is so easy to get absorbed in all of the “Briefings” and up to the minute counts it is important that we are informed but we have to limit how much we see it makes me anxious to take in so much. I limit my time on social media as well, it is often a welcome distraction but it can also be a black hole for me I look up and 40 minutes have passed while scrolling on Instagram. I usually don’t even look at my phone until 9 am or later if I can help it. I stopped using the bible app while doing my devotion the emails, text messages, social media posts are all distractions. I don’t even turn on my tv until 6:30 pm to see the latest on the news and then I try and watch something light for an hour or 2.
5. Stay Connected
Zoom and other platforms like it help us stay connected to the outside world, work meetings, family check-ins I have 3 weekly Zoom meetings one is a business accountability meeting every Thursday (before COVD 19 we would meet at least twice per month in person). This meeting is important because we are in the same business; (Yes, I started my own business) we encourage one another on our journeys and we also challenge each other. It’s nice to have that connection with someone who is further along in her business than I am we can relate to what the other is going through. I have known her for many years and through our weekly meetings, we have gotten to know one another on a deeper level. Hey Kiva! The other call is with my Bestie; hey LaShawn! We brainstorm her business endeavors and we laugh a lot! These meetings are so important to talk and see someone other than my family lol. My extended family meets via Zoom as well me, my siblings and our mom. We usually cut up and keep it light and we pray for one another. There is nothing like meeting face to face and hugging your loved ones but until we get past the social distancing we can take advantage of these online meeting platforms.
6. Have A Dedicated Workspace
I have always had a dedicated workspace for many years I had the luxury of a spare room as my home office. These days my “office” or dedicated workspace is our dining room. My desk, my makeup vanity which is also a desk, and my 2 soap supply shelving units are apart of my workspace. We make it work. This usually isn’t a problem for me because during the day everyone is working on their own thing in their bedrooms usually. When I used to work from home it was never an issue because everyone was either at work or school and it was just me and my trusty sidekick Astro (my miniature schnauzer).
7. Know Thy Self
Learn when you are most productive so you can determine when to schedule certain tasks. I know that tedious tasks that take focus and lots of brainpower I typically tackle first because I am alert and ready to tackle these tasks. I am currently taking a course on becoming a Virtual Assistant while also setting up my business. I know that when I am setting up systems, workflows that are super detailed I need to do in the morning because I am focused and alert, I also will try to schedule potential client Zoom meetings in the morning for the same reason. Emails, calendar blocking, content creation like this blog post I can do in the afternoon or the early evening. Learning when my brain is focused and alert, or in the creative mode is important because if I don’t get the timing right it could mean disaster.
8. Don’t Forget Your Vitamin D
Go outside! Weather permitting I try to get outside everyday to feel the sun on my face and to take a walk. Getting outside helps me not feel so restricted since we really can’t go anywhere right now.
9. Take A Break
Get up from your desk at least once an hour to move around, stretch, read for 15 minutes, get on social media for a few minutes (set a timer so you won’t spend more time than you intended). Take a lunch break every day away from your desk. Go outside and take a walk. When working from home, if I don’t set break times, I would not move from my desk, not eat and work well beyond my normal work hours! Set a reminder on your phone or your smartwatch to stand, drink water and eat.
10. Shut Her Down
Have an end in mind; I shutdown most days by 4 no later than 5 pm. Calendar blocking also helps with this as well you guessed it I schedule the end of my workday. I don’t schedule anything that will go beyond my end time if at all possible. I will close out any loose ends for the day and review my planner as well as my google calendar to see what is scheduled for the next day. I can then make adjustments as needed. My workday has now ended and I transition to prepping dinner, family time, Netflix, reading, and then getting ready for bed and do it all over again the next day.
I hope this was helpful and that you and your families are all safe and healthy! Having a routine has been calming in away with all that is happening around the world and right here in my family! I know there are many of you with school-aged children, or college students who are now at home I am praying for you all as you are transitioning with all of the changes none of this is easy but I know we will get through this together. So much to pray for: Healing around the world, flattening the curve, those that have lost loved ones, unemployment, small businesses, new “homeschooling” families, missing our loved ones while we are social distancing, worshipping online, those on the front line caring for everyone, those in the service industry and on and on.
God is in CONTROL!
Please share any of your productivity tips, how you’re coping and adjusting to all of the changes around us.