Working from Home During the Covid-19 Crisis
7 simple thoughts from Gary Wood, an executive coach who helps leaders deal with overload and burnout. This isn’t an exhaustive list of to-do’s for shifting from your place of work to the home office. But the ideas will get you started and moving positively, even as work and daily life patterns shift.
Start Your Day From the Strength of Your Faith
Take some time to pause before you jump into work. Calm your mind and soul by coming before God. It’s okay to feel needy, no matter who you are. God sees you the same as everyone else and is ready to meet you in a quiet place where your intention is to meet as well.
As a follower of Jesus, I take some time to read the Bible, review my day before God, and pray. When I read, for example Psalm 23 that begins with, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” I apply what’s being said to myself. You will find this allows your focus to shift from problems to the One who loves you even in the midst of problems.
While we may not appreciate exactly how He does it, God will strengthen you for the day ahead, and bring a degree of calm to you in the midst of everything going on around you. This gives you a strong starting point for your day and getting down to work.
Measure Work Momentum, Not Hours
If working on your own from home is new for you, you’re not alone. I’ve had a home office for decades. One thing I’ve discovered is that it’s not about the hours. Don’t err by being frenetic as though the world will end, nor lackadaisical as though the world hasn’t started yet.
Just because you knock out 8 hours of “work,” doesn’t mean you’ve been effective. It just means you did “stuff” for 8 hours. The real crux of the matter is, have you been bringing those things to completion that will make the biggest difference moving forward?
Are the projects and priorities you are responsible for, actually progressing? How do you know and measure that? How do you hold yourself accountable for carrying it out? Measure your momentum … your forward progress. Focus on that and not the clock.
I know what “projects” (and almost everything can be a project) are the most important. I understand where I am on the project and what’s left to complete. It’s broken down into doable steps that I can check off as I go and be happy about as I finish.
Create an Environment for Focus
Home can be a distracting place. If you’ve not had a home office, you need to set up a dedicated place where you can be away from the everyday activity and distractions of the household. Don’t rely on your willpower to focus. It won’t work. Create the structure to ensure it happens.
Sequester yourself somewhere. It doesn’t require a multi-thousand-dollar renovation, new office desk and related equipment. Think minimalistic for now. Aim rather for those things that will contribute to your being able to focus.
Some things are essential for me to focus. I need quiet. Only occasionally will I have music in the background. You may be different. Music might be an aid. I need good lighting. I do best when I have one thing in front of me and everything else filed or put away until I require it. As I say, you may be different. The point – create an environment where you can focus.
Regularly Plan Ahead
Anxiety is always reduced with a plan. Never sit down “to work” in your home office without a plan. Even with all the things you know are required of you from your job, without a plan they become a kind of nebulous fog that just leaves you staring.
I’ve always worked well using the Power of 3. That is, at the end of the week you take some time to think about the three things (tasks, projects,) that if you brought them to conclusion, would make the biggest difference in the upcoming week.
Then Monday morning you start on number one, and you complete it, or you get it to a point where it can be handed off or is waiting for further information. You go as far as you can. THEN, you go on to number two and do the same thing.
You don’t have to use the Power of 3, but you do need a plan. The plan will serve you well.
Care About Others, and You’ll Care for Yourself
There’s a lot of talk these days about VUCA. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. I happen to believe that is an incomplete concept.
I believe we are dealing with VUCAD. The D is for Disconnectedness. And it’s affecting in significant ways. The biggest thing I hear from solopreneurs working from home (and now this kind of includes you, doesn’t it) is that they find themselves lonely.
We need people. And we need people not just to make US feel good. But we need to care about people to make THEM feel good. Connect with people. Your family in the home. Your colleagues via messaging, facetime, email or phone.
Ask them about themselves. How are they doing? Then listen. Listen carefully. In caring for others, you will feel more encouraged yourself.
Refresh With Uplifting Activities, Media, Conversation
A steady diet of negative will make you negative. Apparently, it alters the structure of your brain. Experts can speak to that better than I can.
The point? Listen to uplifting music. Find good news that reflects good things people are doing around you and across the world. Listen to some funny comedy sketches. Laugh.
Get some exercise. Don’t sit all day. Your body wasn’t designed for it. Move. Stretch. Do jumping jacks … do something.
And while we’re on this, smile, sing, look for the good and find it.
When it’s time to work you’ll find yourself engaging with fresh and more positive energy.
You may be thinking, what a strange list of things to help with working from home during the Covid-19 outbreak, but I can assure you they will help you be your best at work … and in your head.
There is a LOT to be thankful for. And if you go looking for those things you will start to see them. You see, it’s all a matter of attitude and intentionality. Be intentional about being thankful and you’ll see things to be thankful for.
Being thankful will alter your attitude. And that positive, forward looking attitude will alter your work and ability to concentrate. Your efficiency will go up. And your day will be just plain better.
Find something to be thankful for right now.
I’ve worked from my office in our home now for a long time. You can work from home and get through this period of Covid-19 very well. Be encouraged. You may find yourself even more productive if you go about it using some or all of these simple practices.
Gary Wood works with leaders and professionals to find clarity and solutions during high-demand, high-intensity periods of work and leadership. You can learn more at his website.