Quarantine. Most of us are probably tired of the word in addition to the concept (We just want to go outside!), but it’s for our safety. However, there’s no denying that it’s had drastic effects on how we live and work. We’re in uncharted territory professionally, struggling to find a new normal. So how can we make things easier? With a little experimentation and practice, working women can stay productive during quarantine in a variety of ways. Let’s explore together.
1. Find a Structure that Works
Working from home (WFH) is easier said than done. Unlike the typical 9-to-5 schedule where you get up, shower, prep your lunch and get dressed before enduring a time-consuming commute, suddenly you’re just…rolling out of bed. That’s hard to adjust to if you’re accustomed to working in an office. But now add the stresses of organizing your day from your living room, getting in touch with colleagues to collaborate and contending with kids, siblings, your spouse and/or parents who are all home too. Finding a WFH rhythm is challenging with all of these additional demands and distractions. It may take some time (Let’s face it, we have lots of that right now!), but it’s essential to find a work structure that works for you.
Figure Out Your Routine
No desk and no office? For some, that might mean no structure, which is a recipe for disaster. Stay organized and on task by figuring out the best way to WFH. Otherwise, family members and household chores might become distractions. This might mean you have to:
- Create a morning schedule (shower, coffee, breakfast, etc.)
- Define a designated workspace (away from others)
- Schedule regular breaks (relax and recharge)
A consistent routine will help to reinforce that you have daily responsibilities to meet.
Again, focusing on work at home is hard. But remember that your job and your employer depend on you to keep your eye on the prize. Engage in positive self-talk and:
- Set goals for yourself each day, as well as weekly benchmarks
- Remember priorities and why each is important so you don’t deviate
Everyone still has deadlines to meet. You’re part of the larger whole on the path to success.
2. Get Creative
Maybe work has slowed in the wake of the health crisis, or perhaps you’re just searching for a new challenge to fill your free time. No matter the case, isolation gives each of us the perfect excuse to stretch our creative muscles. Instead of melting into a rut of endless binge-watching and movie streaming, take advantage of the opportunity to get outside your comfort zone.
Learn a New Skill
Both professional skills and hobbies are important right now, and there’s no reason not to give a little attention to each. Use the extra downtime to boost your professional knowledge through relevant certifications, or take an online class to foster a new hobby. Some examples might include:
- Marketing certifications
- IT certifications
- Professional safety certificate
- Video-based cooking classes
- Video-based drum or guitar lessons
Tap into your creative side to see which new opportunities you can uncover during isolation.
Tackle a Project
Your work-life often infringe on the time you have to accomplish other things, so personal projects have to wait. On the plus side, this doesn’t have to be the case right now. Does something need fixing at home? Is there a craft you want to finish? Use this time to do things like:
- Home improvement projects
- Spring cleaning
- DIY crafts
You’re sure to feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from engaging in personal projects, so keep yourself busy with interesting activities at home.
3. Use Productivity Software
Ah, productivity tools. The saving grace for the WFH generation. Despite maybe having had to haul your work computer home (Our sympathies to anyone using a desktop!), you have more tools than ever before to stay on track professionally. If your employer wasn’t using many programs to expedite work projects before, chances are more than good that you’re now thrust into using software on a daily basis. Take advantage of all the bells and whistles of each to accomplish your job with ease.
Video Conferencing and Chat
Maybe your team can’t sit in the conference room together, and you certainly can’t pop over to a colleague’s desk to ask a question right now. But that’s OK, because video conferencing and chat software fill in those gaps. What’s more is that several tech companies are providing free trials right now to ease the burden on new users. A few examples include:
- Slack (instant messaging and file sharing)
- Google Hangouts (instant messaging and web calls)
- Zoom (video conferencing)
- Google Meet (video conferencing and web calls)
With these tools at your disposal, you’ll wonder why anyone ever had to attend meetings before.
It’s harder to touch base as a team to divide tasks for each project. Most companies probably have at least a basic project management process in place (even if it’s just a spreadsheet), but larger systems are coming in handy right now to assign items and provide updates in a socially-distanced world. A few common systems include:
Take advantage of project management software to enhance productivity and communication with features to assign tasks, comment, upload files and mark status updates.
4. Prioritize Self Care
Being stuck inside, reading and hearing bad news every day and dealing with new professional realities are enough to drive anyone bonkers. That’s why it’s important to remember that YOU are the top priority. If you don’t take care of yourself, the anxieties and uncertainties will get in the way of being productive. Put your mental and physical health on a pedestal, knowing they will make it easier for everything else to fall into place.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Stress can impact physical health, from causing headaches to contributing to digestive upsets. Take control of your mental health to feel your best. An evening soak in the tub can ease the stresses of the workday, but mental relief comes from other sources, too. Consider establishing a regular sleep schedule and engaging in meditation. Each relaxes your nervous system, gives your mind a rest so you can face life head-on and provides an essential immune system boost.
Get Up and Exercise
It’s so easy right now to become bored and lose motivation, but exercise can get you out of that rut. As you spend the majority of time inside and sedentary, it’s important to exercise simply to loosen your muscles and joints. Beyond this, cardiovascular workouts will maintain lung health (the primary part of your body the virus attacks)—even more so if you exercise outside in the open air. Looking for a few ideas? Consider:
- Taking a walk in your neighborhood
- Playing in your yard with your children
- Engaging in video workouts
Keep Your Head Up and Move Forward
We’re all looking forward to the day when isolation ends and we can return to the lives we knew. For now, it’s certainly a challenge, but not one we can’t overcome. The trick is to stay productive during quarantine—both personally and professionally—in order to stay calm and active. We’ve got this.