I remember that Wednesday morning in March when I first heard our company was going to suspend in-office work and require 100 percent remote working. I didn’t overthink it as we already worked two days a week from home as part of our company culture, and we were well equipped to handle moving everything to remote. What I wasn’t prepared for was that this would go on for more than two months, while also having to help my two daughters with home-schooling, live with a front-line worker, and try to maintain some mental normalcy.
Early on, I discovered that I felt torn between choosing between giving to my children and doing my job. Usually, we all leave the house for work, so we don’t always experience having to cater to their little ongoing needs throughout the day. I found myself faced with situations where I would be about to join a call while also having a crying fourth-grader beside me who was struggling with a math problem. At some point, I realized that I was just going to have to do the best that I could. I found myself getting a lot more work done at night when the girls’ were asleep so I could help them throughout the day. Other times they would fly through their schoolwork and entertain themselves all day while I worked.
I’m a type-A personality who is continuously goal setting, planning, scheduling and accomplishing a great deal in a day. Once this started, I had to completely re-calibrate my thinking. I’ve found that each week gets more comfortable and more natural. And as long as I accept the realization that this could continue for the foreseeable future, then I can mentally prepare myself for my new life ahead. However, it’s not easy at all!!! No one has gone through this before, and no one is the be-all and end-all expert.
I have found a few things to help me get through the day, so I thought I would share them with others. Here are four things I’ve been doing consistently during the current crisis that have helped me gain a sense of accomplishment, balance and organization:
- Schedule. Create a plan each night or each week that you review with your kids the evening before. This will help them understand the expected timing for the next day. We go through the wake-up time and routine as I’m usually already hours deep into calls by the time that they get up. The schedule is left out for them to reference throughout the day. This will eliminate interruptions and empower the kids to get started in their own time.
- Keep one routine. If you have had a morning routine, KEEP IT! If you always work out for at least an hour a day, then stick to that! We all need some sense of normalcy right now, and if getting up at 5 a.m. and meditating is what you’ve always done, keep doing it.
- Set a timer. I always use the timer on my Apple Watch to help me keep track of the amount of time I spend on something. If I know I only have 30 minutes to work on something, the alarm/timer will be set, and the productivity cranks. Then I will get up and move on to the next task. If a call ends early and there are only 10 minutes to the next call, hit the timer, run downstairs and check-in with the kids quickly. Maximize your time as much as you can.
- Keep a notepad by your work area. Kids are often impatient (shocking, I know … lol!). When my kids have questions or need things while I’m on a Zoom call, they’ll write down their questions or whatever they need on paper so I can respond to them without having to have my call totally interrupted.
I’ve found that I have to re-evaluate this usually every week. Having a few tools set in place for yourself as well as the others in your home will help tremendously and hopefully take some anxiety off your plate as we’re navigating these new uncharted times. We don’t know how long this will go on for; but I know that I can handle it as long as it does. Just be fluid, observant and in tuned with how you’re feeling. Otherwise, who else will?