I know weeks ago, I was all “don’t worry about productivity– it’s a Pandemic!” And I still stand by that, for sure. Times are stressful and scary. No one is performing at the top of their license right now. Yet, for those of us privileged to work from home there is still an expectation that we, you know, work. And the legal wheels don’t stop–we still gotta bill and mark our time (which btw super happy to not have actually bill time anymore). So I thought I’d share some steps I’ve taken to create a routine that has allowed me to be productive while not feeling like I always have to working.
Of course, I preface this by saying I am only responsible for myself during the day. I only have one cute kitty that interrupts my day. I know having children or multiple family members around adds to the stress in different ways than experiencing this solo. So this isn’t a must-do for anyway, but rather what has worked for me and even then some days don’t go as planned because I’m still tired and nervous and anxious about this virus…
One. Morning schedule. Up until literally March, I was team No Breakfast. I would get up, get ready, and have a latte maybe a pastry at work. Being home allowed me to set up a routine in the morning that allows me to eat breakfast, which is actually kind of nice LOL. I give myself enough time in the morning to feed Javert, make a cup of coffee, make a light breakfast, and plan the day before my first conference call. At the beginning was I getting up ten minutes before the call and feeling frantic? Yes. Has giving myself more time made me feel calmer and more prepared for the day? Absolutely. I really really hope I can keep this pattern going when I go back to the office.
Two. Plan ahead. It’s so easy to jump into the most pressing item for the day and just keep going. But whenever I do that, I feel frantic. Instead, I take a few moments to write out what needs to be done and in what order to help me set pace. This also helps to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks or that I’m not working on things that aren’t priority. When I go into the office, I normally plan my day at the end of the previous day so I can get “straight to work” when I come in, but starting my day off this way is super helpful.
Three. Take breaks. It boggles my mind how some days it’s 3pm and I still haven’t eaten lunch–in my own home! At the beginning it was easy to just keep going and not pause, but that is not good for you. Not good for the body or the work product. Instead, make an effort to take a real lunch break, with real food. I normally can’t take a full hour, but beyond lunch, I make sure I get up, walk around, have water, and yes–Javert kind of demands breaks as well—and there’s no rule against cuddling a cat while participating in a conference call!
Four. Log off. I know that work never ends. And many of us are working on serious, urgent issues that require a lot of time and dedication. I still work long hours, but make sure to log off by dinner time. This means shutting down my computer and moving away from my work space for the evening. My work doesn’t allow me to not answer emails after 5pm, but if I were in my old job in this situation, I think I would strive to not send emails after hours or to encourage staff to not feel pressed to respond late at night.
Five. Move around! You guys, I’m low-key nervous about the fact that I could just sit all day and work if I didn’t keep track and what that means to my muscles and body. I’m SO lucky to have a treadmill and started jumping on when I logged off and walk a mile or two. I knew this wasn’t the time to start a workout program or to push myself to do X miles or whatever but you need to move your body. I do a light walk, some days I add arm weights or leg exercises but keep it light.
Also, dressing gym clothes has become my new work outfit so I’m not in PJs all day (though my gym clothes are basically PJs). If I didn’t have asthma and live right by a highway, I would go out for a walk (maybe) but the treadmill offers no excuses really to not get a walk in.
As I said before, not every day is perfect and that really shouldn’t be the goal, but taking some time to strategize the day allows me to be as productive as I can be without feeling burned out and in the midst of a pandemic that’s really as good as it can get.