Things are changing. We are officially experiencing something that hasn’t happened before, and I don’t mean the coronavirus because— let’s face it— there was the Black Death that ran through China and across Europe in the 14th century. There will always be sickness and unpredictability, but this is the first time in the modern world that we are acting as a group to deal with its uncertainty. Which, more or less, has meant staying inside, with limited travel and stocking up like a true “prepper.”
What does this mean for you?
This is new for you. You normally go into an office, you have a lunch break where you can officially break away from your work routine and chill out in your car or at your favorite taco place. This quarantine might mean working from home or possibly not working at all.
I’m here to help with that transition. I started working from home by choice six years ago, and I mentally went a little crazy after the first two weeks. I jumped in and wasn’t fully prepared to be alone. It wasn’t about my ability to stay motivated or focused on work tasks; it was just that my only contact was a few phone calls with my boss and no one else! The mental change of work mode by going into an office and having coworkers to say “Hi” to was gone. I saw my husband after work, and my life became two people. That was it!
This may be your reality soon if it hasn’t happened already, but NOT TO WORRY! There are solutions to staying happy at home in quarantine without losing your sanity.
Step One: Find a place in your home that can be an office. At first, it won’t bother you, but the longer you work from home, the worse it will get. If you live in California, that might be hard as a lot of people live in very small studios. However, if you can pick a spot in your house that can be your new office, do it. I worked in my living room for the first year, and I found that my living room suddenly meant work. Relaxation after work became difficult to achieve when I couldn’t separate my personal space from my work area. If you don’t have a spare room, create a blanket fort office. Silly? Maybe, but if you can separate this space, you’ll be better off.
Step Two: Normally I’d say find a source of escape, like going to the gym, but since that isn’t really happening right now (mine is currently closed, as I’m sure yours is), you need to come up with a time and place to do a physical activity. There are a ton of videos on youtube that you can follow along with (Yoga: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSimXxTXs7I ; Cardio Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml6cT4AZdqI ; Full body Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBMk30rjy0o ; 15 minute Dance workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj2IubFfEqY) and I know you can find even more.
Step Three: Just like at the office, you have mini-breaks. Most offices have 10-minute breaks every two hours, and if you’re like a lot of people you probably don’t feel comfortable taking them or you’ve skipped them because you’re a workaholic. STOP RIGHT THERE! In order to have a good work balance at home you really need to take a step away from the computer. Remember that for most of you this is different, maybe even a little exciting, or for some a little intimidating. Either way, no matter your emotions, you need to step away from that computer. Set a timer every two hours and once that timer goes off, set a 10-minute timer. This gives you peace of mind that you won’t take too long of a break and you still have structure while giving yourself a few minutes to get away from your desk and make a coffee or eat a cookie.
Step Four: Since this experience is also keeping you inside after work, when you’re used to going out and getting a beer, or going dancing, seeing a movie or hanging out with friends, we need another solution. Most people are going to spend all their freetime watching Netflix, but be warned: it will catch up to you later. If you give in to just doubling your Netflix hours, it will affect the rest of your day-to-day motivation. Try instead to do something that actually keeps your mind active. Go on Zoom or Skype and talk to your friends face-to-face. Challenge a friend to play Chess with you online. Finally start writing that book you’ve been talking about for the last several years.
It’s important to remember that no matter what happens and no matter how long we are locked in our homes or self quarantined, that our sanity comes first. Don’t wait and let that craziness build up. Take the steps needed to balance out your days, and make this a better and more enjoyable transition. You’re important, and you are going to get through this change.
By Kendall Roderick, NAWRB Senior Graphic Designer