Pre-pandemic, the ritual of getting organized in the morning and commuting to work was an important part of each work day. For those who are now working from home, a new routine is necessary.
A magical transformation occurs each day as millions of people commute to work. They participate in a mass transition from a domestic lifestyle to a superhero alter ego work personality.
During this transformation, thoughts and emotions shift to enable a very different focused effort.
Without this transformation, the work day blends from bedroom to kitchen, past the TV, children and household obstacles. Eventually you get to your desk, intending to carve out a dedicated work effort. BUT, the reality is that the needs of the household are loud and demanding too.
Are we able to wear the same office “game face” at our home office? Is that even appropriate?
And yet, work has to get done.
Create routines to save your mind. Then, escape into these routines. Without routines, expect to suffer a barrage of distractions and drama that will wreck your plans.
Routine #1, The morning ritual.
Wake up at the same time each morning. Prep the morning just like pre-pandemic. Set a goal to be working at your desk at a specific time and work backwards from there. Be clean, dressed, tidy and fed before your start time. Have coffee and relevant newspaper headlines digested. Do not turn on the TV yet.
At your start time, have a specific set of tasks that you will do to build momentum and accountability. With coffee in hand, make a real phone call with a co-worker and let this jump start the day.
Routine #2. The evening ritual.
Before going to bed, prep for the next day in the same way you would pre-pandemic. Make lunches, do laundry, revise and review lists for the next day. Go to bed at a decent hour.
The last few hours before going to bed, do not watch TV news. The real life drama is too intense and will affect your sleep cycles. Get your information by reading websites and control your exposure to intense drama at this time.
Routine #3. The daily physical exercise.
Being physically isolated can restrict exercise and usual physical activity. However, it is still extremely important to get some daily exercise regardless of this pandemic. That can be as simple as a vigorous walk or more complex like a work out routine in your home gym.
Online videos for yoga, aerobics, dance, and weight training are available. Youtube is full of trainers and their exercise routines. Some trainers are offering live, online classes too. This can help build connection and interest while maintaining physical distance.
Schedule your exercise routines and add a playful challenge to it to maintain engagement. For instance, try to jog a bit further or faster each time. Track your progress and let this build momentum. Look forward to your workout routines as a healthy diversion for your other obligations.
Routine #4. Children.
If you have children living at home, routines are hugely important. Define new terminology such as “Emergency”, “Work time”, “Do Not Disturb”, “Chores”, “Free Time”, “Sharing”, “Taking Turns”, “Cooperation”, “Respect”
The children also need a morning, evening and exercise routines of their own. Help them create these routines.
The first half of the day should be for academic work and chores. TV, video games etc can be allocated a set amount of time for later in the day. Schedule online socializing for the kids. Arrange for helpers to check-in as online babysitters while you work.
As the parent, teacher and referee, you will need to balance your work roles with your children’s needs. Some of your work activities will need to be uninterrupted unless a REAL emergency develops – eg, bathroom is flooding, someone is sick or injured, the house is on fire. The kids will need to know what “Do Not Disturb” means and also, what is a legit emergency.
Routine #5. House chores.
Some tasks can be deligated to other family members. If you are the one and only, you can take advantage of your home office setup and do light chores in between major work tasks. We all know it’s not healthy to sit at your desk working for 8 hours straight. Now you can get up and fold some laundry or wash some dishes as a way to blend household needs with your need to get up and stretch your legs.
CAUTION. Do not do the bulk of your chores during the work day. It is still a WORK day not a chore day. But be reasonable. The novelty of working from home can be a fun adventure too. The first few weeks may involve way more non-work related activities than expected. That’s ok. Gradually make adjustments to these routines and a new sense of balance will eventually emerge.
Routine #6. Mental Health.
All these new routines, uncertainties and changes can be overwhelming. Keeping this all in some kind of perspective is important yet easier said than done. Now more than ever, it’s important to reach out for additional help. Especially help with basic mental health. Therapeutic Counselling services are available. These can be offered online, privately and confidentially. With the aid of a professional therapeutic counsellor, you can learn new skills, release tension, build hope and find some peace. It’s even possible to work through trauma and manage anxiety.
For more information regarding therapeutic counselling services, call or email my office. I will be happy to discuss these matters with you.