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It’s been a worrying couple of months so far, hasn’t it? Coronavirus has hit almost every country in the world, and we’re still waiting to see the full effect of it.
Your life has most likely been affected by the pandemic.
Maybe your kids’ schools have closed.
Maybe you’ve had to line up at the grocery store for several hours in hopes you don’t miss out on getting a package of toilet paper. 😉
Or maybe you were one of the unlucky ones, and you or someone close to you contracted the virus. If so, I wish you and yours a speedy recovery!
Another way the pandemic may have affected you is that your employer may have asked you to work from home. According to Willis Towers Watson, 46% of American businesses have implemented remote working policies.
Unfortunately, you can’t singlehandedly change what’s happening in the world right now, but you can look for opportunities to improve your own situation and your mindset. In a year from now, you might even come to feel that this situation was a blessing in disguise for you.
Not only will working from home keep you safe and lower your risk of catching and spreading the virus but it will also give you a taste of the work-at-home lifestyle.
Once you’ve had that, you might struggle to go back to the office! You may find that you love the freedom of working from home, and you want to do it all the time — but for yourself and not your boss.
Some of you may find it difficult at first as you navigate the unfamiliar territory of working from home.
I’m sharing my top tips for settling into a productive work-from-home routine and how to apply what you’ve learned to your future business. Take this opportunity to learn all you can from the experience and use it to springboard your work-at-home career!
Here’s what working from home in the middle of a pandemic can teach you.
How to get into a work mindset
Your home life is probably in chaos right now. Your kids are probably home and want to be entertained all day. Maybe your spouse may be working from home too. It probably feels like summer vacation rather than time to work.
But if your boss requires you to work from home, you need to get into the work mindset, pronto.
Learning how to do this now will make sure you’re ahead of the game when you start your own work-from-home business.
I’ve got three tips for getting into a work mindset:
1. Set clear boundaries.
Create a designated workspace and make sure your family knows that when you’re in this workspace, they shouldn’t disturb you unless it’s important.
You can also create other cues so they know not to interrupt you, like when your headphones are on, it means do not disturb!
Now you might want to make it clear to them what you would consider important. A cut on their knee from a fall is important; not being able to find the video game controller is NOT important! 😉
If your spouse is at home too, it might be a good idea to work as a tag team and take turns looking after the kids.
2. Start your work at the same time each day
Just like you would at your regular workplace. This will help you keep a routine.
Now, when you’re your own boss, technically you can work whenever you want, but sticking to a routine is a great way to boost your productivity. This will be a good habit to keep up in your work-at-home career!
If you have young kids, it may not be possible to work your regular hours. Instead, try to fit work in when they’re otherwise occupied, i.e., before they get up, when they’re having screen time, during nap times, or after they go to bed.
3. Get dressed!
Do not work in your pajamas. You’ll feel sluggish and tired all day if you do. Changing into proper clothes will signal to your brain that your workday has begun and the time for lounging around is over.
In these trying times, we also need to give ourselves some grace. It’s going to be difficult to get into the work mindset when you’re trying to balance work and home life and trying not to panic. Don’t forget to set aside time to journal, meditate, pray, or just think.
How to create an effective work schedule
When you work in a regular 9-to-5 job, your day is kind of mapped out for you. You start work at 9 a.m. Maybe you have a coffee break at 11 a.m. You go to lunch at 1 p.m. and you leave work at 5 p.m. The rest of the day is probably punctuated by pointless meetings. 😉
That routine seems to go out the window when you start working from home.
You might find it helpful to get a planner, write down all the tasks you need to accomplish each day, and assign a time to do them.
Try to schedule tasks that require more focus to the times when you’re at your most productive and keep routine work to the times when you’re feeling tired.
My top tip for creating an effective schedule? Build in time for daily routines, like checking your email at certain times, having your daily or weekly team call, or completing routine administrative tasks.
This will stop you from getting distracted by these tasks when you should be working on the tasks that need more of your focused attention.
One more work-at-home tip: Do not let yourself get distracted by the pile of laundry or the bathroom that needs cleaning. Schedule time in your planner to do household chores. This will reduce the anxiety you feel about them because you know you’re going to get them done at the allocated time.
How to stay motivated
Fact: You can’t motivate yourself to succeed.
Most people wait until they’re feeling really motivated before they start taking action. But you can’t rely on motivation to make you successful. Motivation is just a feeling, and feelings are fleeting.
You can’t trust it!
What you can trust is self-discipline. If you show up every day and make sure you get your work done — even when you don’t feel like it — you’ll be successful.
When you work for a company, you have someone looking over your shoulder making sure you get your work done.
When you’re self-employed or working from home, you don’t have that same motivation. That’s where self-discipline comes in.
It’s a vicious cycle. If you don’t take any action, you don’t get any results, which means you have no motivation to do anything.
If you commit to taking action every day, you’ll start to see some results, and those results will give you the motivation to continue.
That’s a life and business lesson I hope you’ll take to heart because it’s what is going to determine your success. I talk about it in more detail here.
How to prioritize self-care
Now more than ever, it’s important to take good care of your physical and mental health.
Taking regular breaks from your work to rest and recharge your batteries is essential. It can be easy to become a workaholic when you work from home because the boundaries are less visible.
If you’re really honest with yourself though, do you work eight straight hours in your regular 9-to-5 job? I’m guessing you don’t when you take into consideration coffee breaks, lunch, and chatting with your colleagues.
So don’t feel like you have to work ALL THE TIME when you work from home.
Did you manage to stock up on food and other necessities at the grocery store? Make sure you make some healthy, nutritious food as it will help you stay focused.
Incorporate some exercise into your daily routine. If your government allows it during this pandemic, get outside and go for a walk. If they are advising you to stay indoors, you can work out at home. Beth Learn has some simple exercises you can do right at your desk!
One of the major drawbacks of working from home is social isolation, so self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 will help prepare you for this aspect.
To avoid feeling isolated, take advantage of modern technology and catch up with colleagues via email and video calls.
Luckily when this passes and you start your work-from-home business, you won’t be forced to self-isolate. Email and video calls will still be a good way to stay in touch with the outside world, but you can also arrange in-person meetups with your friends or former colleagues.
Last but not least, when your workday ends, put away your laptop, change into some comfy clothes, and have some me-time.
You deserve it!
Want more tips?
My friend Brittany started a thread in the Work-At-Home Heroes Facebook group so that people could share tips on how to survive working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re not in the group yet, use the password #Heroes to get in!
What we’re all facing at the moment is scary, but it’s also a learning opportunity. Take stock of what your life was like before. Then consider how working from home all the time could have made things easier for you.
And if it’s possible to work from home in your current job making what you make now, imagine what might happen if you start a side hustle now that can grow into a full-time hustle where YOU control what you make! The sky’s the limit!
Want to get ahead of the next virus and start your work-at-home career now? Get yourself onto the waitlist for Work-At-Home School! It’s opening up again very soon and you won’t want to miss out.