COVID-19 has turned everyone’s daily routines upside down. Here at Next Day Animations, we have several team members who work remotely (even when there’s not a global pandemic), and with their advice, and the age old oracle known as The Internet, the rest of us are figuring out ways to adjust to our new “normal.” Here’s what we’ve found useful:
Set a Schedule
It doesn’t have to be your “normal” schedule, but it can help your focus and productivity if you start work, break for lunch, and end work at roughly the same time every day. A routine can help us feel calmer, and encourage healthy habits even during this intense time.
Respect the schedule you set for yourself – when you log off of work, really log off. Resist the urge to hop on “just to check one thing.” Give yourself the peace of mind and time to recharge.
If you can, work someplace that’s just for working. Even if it’s a closet with a desk in it, having someplace separate from the rest of your home (where you can’t see the dirty dishes or the TV calling to you) helps you focus on working, and helps you leave work behind at the end of the day.
Did you make incremental progress on a project while also keeping children alive and/or walking a dog? Congratulations, you had a productive day! You might not get as much done as you would at the office, because let’s face it, these are extraordinary times and many of us just can’t get our brains to focus exclusively on work. And that’s OK!
Here are some productivity hacks to give your overwhelmed brain a little assistance in getting thing done:
- Use your kids as a pomodoro timer. Work on one task in a concentrated burst of energy, and see how much you can get through before someone needs a snack, a diaper change, or help building a block tower.
- Make a list. This helps in two ways: 1. it gets all the random bits of information out of your brain and onto a piece of paper so you can stop thinking about them, and 2. it helps you structure your day. (Use your list in combo with the Pomodoro method!)
- Listen to music or podcasts to stay in the zone and tune out the rest of the world.
- Reward your hard work! Some of us (OK, most of us) like to take a snack break when we finish a task, or make a cup of tea. And all of us benefit from taking a little time to get outdoors during the work day.
We’re emailing and digitally chatting each other instead of shouting across the room or chatting in the hallway. Remember to proofread those emails, and add emojis or gifs if it seems appropriate. It can be hard to read someone’s tone in writing, especially if they are in a hurry, and proof-reading for clarity (and adding emojis) can help.
Trust-building looks different. Make sure you’re still making time to ask about someone’s weekend, follow up on that anecdote your co-worker shared with you yesterday, and (without being an obnoxious distraction) share fun links or videos with your team like you would if you were all in the same physical location.
Pets, kids, and road construction may all make an appearance in your meetings. Well, guess what, that’s life. Let’s stop pretending like we live in pristine, childless, silent nature preserves.
We’re all coping with our new circumstances differently; be patient with yourself and others. Real Life is creeping into our work days, and it feels vulnerable and strange. Let’s remember to make space for it when we need to.