There is always that one image of someone typing away while sitting by the beach or in a beautiful, clean white office with a warm cup of coffee….
Well, your remote work might not look like that at the moment.
Most of us will be setting the computer on the kitchen table to keep one eye on the living room turned ball pit with sofa cushions.
And in stressful times it is easy to either avoid our work altogether or throw ourselves all in to prove we are still that valuable employee.
So how do we keep our stress levels, anxiety and lifestyles in check while we continue with our responsibilities?
In our Prowess Certification course, we focus on a few key concepts: know your boundaries, be proactive, and stay consistent.
So normally I recommend working behind a closed door but that might not be possible if you are daylighting as a homeschool teacher. Let’s talk ground rules. Kids of all ages can understand colors and symbols. Come up with a system with your children to let them know when you need the uninterrupted time or quiet.
Phone calls – Most parents will tell you that every time they get on the phone, kids act up. Typically this is our little one’s way of expressing a need for safety, because when they are not getting all of your attention, it sparks fear. A few good ways to calm your child if you do need quiet for your call is to set them up with their comfort items, their lovey, a snack, and a favorite show, game or toy. Sit where they can see you but enough distance that you can not worry about every sound they make disrupting your call. It also helps to be proactive with those on the call and let them know you need to utilize the mute button.
If your child is old enough to play in the other room, a sign on your door can let them know you need to focus on your work. A red circle can mean “only enter in an emergency”, green means “yes, you can come in but quiet is required”, and blue is “feel free to come in”. Use characters from movies, hand-drawn images of you or photos. Anything that helps clearly defines what you need. And my children got really good at passing a note back to me, usually with a picture of goldfish that they were in need of.
Also, take advantage of your child’s routine. If you can wake up earlier than your household, and get free your mind of emails that need responding, calls to be scheduled or any other tasks that are “busy work”. Schedule a designated electronic time during your calls or busy times so that they can watch a movie, use electronics or other favorite activities that keep them occupied for extended times.
Utilizing a checklist of ways to start and stop your workday can be helpful. Know what tasks might spark an urgent need, confirming attendance on the zoom call (or making sure Zoom downloaded) or ensuring all documents are loaded to the cloud/sharing system. Making sure all equipment is charged – headphones, phones, computers.
Prowess recommends starting your daily routine but also closing out your day. At the end of the workday, make sure your schedule is set for the next day. Make sure all the next step tasks for tomorrow’s schedule are completed.
Have a designated place to capture those “I need to mention…” items so that when you are on the call, you can look at one place to review the list and make sure it’s up to date. This could be in a google – task list, designated notebook, or notes on your phone. Anything that helps you keep track of it and you know when you need a reminder.
Utilize a messaging system like Slack to organize conversations that flow through the day. This helps others keep track of items they can not get to in the exact moment.
Keeping a consistent schedule helps our own stress or anxiety levels in a time of uncertainty. Keep the same nightly routine of going to bed as if you did need to get up for the office. Don’t change the alarm clock and instead use that drive time to check to make sure everything at home can run smoothly for the day (or as smooth as possible).
Keep your office hour schedules. Take a lunch break. End your workday as you would have before. Your family also needs the consistency of you being mentally present at dinner, evening family time, and bedtime.
Yes, we all need to be flexible and nimble in times like these but we need to also take care of our mental and physical self. Keep your workout routine, if you can’t go to the gym find a video online.
If you had standing appointments with friends or colleagues that helped build rapport, utilize a video call to a casual conversation. Some of us need face-to-face interaction and seeing others on the screen can help provide that element of the community.
If we are following consistent schedules it helps children feel grounded in what they know. If they are used to bonding on the ride to school, keep that time open to them. If they valued playing around you while dinner was prepared, close the laptop and provide that time with them just as before.
Lastly, you don’t need to go through this alone. There are many resources available to you for advice and support during this difficult time. Lean on your spouse or other family members if you can. Download an app for moms like SocialMama, which sends you personalized mom matches for you to talk to and build friendships. You can even ask career coaches and experts on the app for advice on working from home as a mom! Things as simple as a quick online yoga class will help you tend to yourself and your mental wellbeing. We are definitely all in this together!
Until next time,
Leah, COO, Prowess Project and our friends at SocialMama