You’ve got all this time at home, and all these things to do. Work, leisure, child care, and possibly schooling are all happening in the same place — and probably for the first time. You’ve never spent less time commuting — and yet, maximizing your time amidst these priorities is a bigger challenge than ever. Here are some tips to stay on top of it all.
Optimize your work-from-home schedule
Start your workday with as much regular routine as possible. Whatever your regular morning timetable was — such as the normal times you would wake up, shower, eat breakfast, etc. — try to recreate that as closely as possible. It’s all to get you in the mindset of the workday. Dressing up should help too — the full business getup may not be necessary, but the idea is that it’s harder to take yourself seriously in pajamas.
If taking care of younger children, try to implement shifts for care/schooling with your partner. But ideally, your designated work time should remain as such, because if an hour-long task takes three times as long due to distractions, you’ll be shortchanged for your actual designated family time later.
Speaking of distractions, being home can make it tempting to get that quick home task over with — the dirty dishes are right there, why not just get them over with? Because you’re, again, subtracting from your own productivity and leisure time later, and perhaps more importantly, it’s a slippery slope. Don’t necessarily want to make that a habit.
Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation
If there’s one skill we gain from this whole mess, perhaps it’ll be getting fully comfortable with video conferencing. While by no means a permanent replacement for face-to-face interaction, utilizing that webcam can enhance pickup of nonverbal cues, not to mention they typically feature better audio quality than a standard phone call. Social interaction can be very beneficial for well-being, and simulating at least some greater form of normalcy by seeing your friends and colleagues over a video call might improve your mood more than you’d expect.
This applies both with friends and family as well as for work purposes, where a routine 1-on-1 check-in call could be much more focused and coherent over video. Also, in a time where standard office water cooler talk has been rendered impossible, it could be worthwhile to allot the first few minutes of the team meeting agenda to restore that sense of camaraderie. “Kicking the meeting off, let’s have everyone report on the last TV show they watched.” What once may have seemed a tiresome icebreaker could now be a pleasant moment to reunite.
Tackle that home to-do list
With more time at home, you can finally tackle that list of projects you just seem to never get around to. That overflowing clutter that long ago wore out its welcome? Now’s the perfect time to get cracking. Thanks to our many WiFi-equipped devices, it’s easier than ever to keep yourself entertained while going through old documents or clothes. Or, perhaps you’ve long pondered rearranging the furniture in the living room but have never gotten around to it. Here’s your chance to rethink home choices, and find solutions that work better for everyone.
This also applies to a little DIY home improvement, which is especially pertinent if you were or will be looking to sell your home in the foreseeable future. Some examples of this could be fixing leaky faucets, trimming shrubs and trees, cleaning gutters, repainting doors and walls, or taking care of a ripped screen. With the weather improving, some of these are excellent excuses to get some fresh air while still adhering to social distancing principles. While Illinois’ shelter-in-place order allows for essential travel only, not to worry if something goes wrong — hardware stores are among the “essential businesses” that are allowed to remain open.
For fun, get creative
From Netflix to YouTube to all sorts of bizarre corners of the Internet, even now we’re at no loss for entertaining content, and there’s no reason you and your family shouldn’t indulge. To switch things up though, encourage yourself to think of entertainment modes you normally wouldn’t go through the trouble for, but would be a welcome change now. Perhaps there are some puzzles and board games in the basement you haven’t touched in years. Look up new card games to play or recipes to tackle. Have a bonfire out back and reinvent the s’more. Build the most epic blanket fort your kids have ever seen. You get the idea.