- Susie Csorsz Brown
Making it work
We just arrived to our new post. We are the 'beta testers' for getting pets into this island country during the pandemic, and we are now in quarantine. Sure, we were isolating in Uganda, but we had a huge yard and lots of space and green ... it's didn't feel quite so stifling. This space is taller (building-wise) but smaller (green-space-wise). I think quarantine is going to be a bit harder, especially because this is true do-not-leave-your-space restriction.
I'm not going to complain, though. Our new house is great. A bit too much white, and too little furniture, but that will change soon enough.
Boys started school 30 hours after we landed. The joy of distance learning is upon us again, thankfully to be punctuated with alternating weeks in the actual classroom once we are passed our quarantine.
Working from home, though, is probably still going to be a have-to once we both get back into the swing of things. It is a skill, isn't it, to be able to be work-productive at home? Plus with all of us at home, doing our various school- and work-related tasks, the spacious house feels a bit like we don't have enough elbow room. Zoom calls echo through the sparsely furnished rooms; internet data has already been used up and refilled twice in our short time at post.
Schooling and working from home can be amazing, if you have the self-discipline and motivation to keep on task. The pro of not having to commute is quickly outweighed by all of the distractions, all of the things that just HAVE to be taken care of, all of the home and family things.
Working from home, schooling from home ... we can do this thing. Really. Some tips:
1. Go to work.
Step away from those jammies! Pretend you're actually going to the classroom or office and dress the part! Studies have shown that when you follow your normal routine, you are more likely to accomplish more throughout the day. Those comfy PJ's aren't going to contribute much to your productivity. Dressing in your normal clothes (okay, maybe you don't need a tie!) will keep you feeling more like a professional... which is a good thing!
2. Get your Vitamin D
Open those drapes and let the natural sunlight in! Even better, get outside and soak some up without the window pane in the way. Vitamin D helps boost your mood and energize your spirit! Natural light has also been proven to boost productivity and enhance your attention to detail. Sunlight is also a great mood enhancer, so if you are feeling a little stressed over a task, getting outside is a great way to decompress.
3. Have a Designated Work and school place
Despite how tempting your bed can be, it is best to create your own designated workspace that is motivating and energizing. Make sure that your "office" is away from all the distractions, and, if possible, try to keep it well stocked with various office supplies that you might need. The less you have to leave your space, the less you will be distracted by tasks as you pass them. If you are at your workspace, you won't see the laundry or the dusting that still needs to be completed, or the trampoline beckoning you. Movement is great (see #5 below) but do it when it is the appropriate time.
4. Keep the snacking to a minimum
Remember those pounds you gained during your first year at school? The dreaded Freshman 15? Turns out, many of us working and schooling from home are seeing a repeat of this, turning Covid 19 into the Covid 20 (pounds, that is). While your kitchen may be a distraction, the convenience of that stocked fridge and pantry can make gaining a few unwanted pounds a little too easy. Another way to avoid wandering around the kitchen (and snacking), is to keep a glass of water near your workspace. When you feel like you want to munch, have a drink instead. You'll feel better because you'll be hydrated; you'll feel better, too, because you won't be snacking! Win win!
5. Move your body
You now have more time to exercise, so no excuses, right? Try to do a quick workout, stretch or practice some yoga in between your tasks. You can even take that conference call standing up or while pacing. This movement can really help you destress and loosen up your muscles. A step counter is a helpful tool to keep you motivated too. Another suggestion might be to get yourself a standing desk or a sit on a yoga ball. Stepping away from your desk, literally and figuratively, to do some movement can help with your motivation and focus. It may sound counterintuitive, but taking a movement break can actually help you accomplish your task faster and more effectively.
6. Stick to the working and schooling hours
We have literally brought our work to our home, but that doesn’t mean you should be working all the time. Take some time off away from your workspace at least every few hours each day. Don't work all hours of the day, or it will be hard to get a separation of 'real life' and 'school/work life'. Get up and stretch, take a hot bath or go for a run if your workload allows. This will help you unwind and relax. Find the right work-life balance and practice it until you master it. Your body and mind will thank you.
I hope these suggestions might be helpful for you and yours. I'm lucky that I get a short breather before starting my job; my time right now is spent supporting those already in their commitment (boys in school, hubby in work). So my job right now is to keep them on task, and support what they need to do their work and school work. In a few weeks, I'll join their ranks, too, and then the puzzle will be trying to get all of this accomplished without anyone in the full-time support role.
Things are about to get interesting!