A little help to organize your space and time to be most productive…
By now, many of us are settled into the “new normal”, THE AFTER that we really weren’t prepared for. Many employees are now #workingfromhome, social distancing, possibly caring for and schooling children and trying to stay mentally well and positive. That’s a tall order, especially for someone new to working from home. Whether your greatest challenge is remote work, being home with children around the clock, or both, being organized can help. As an organizing and productivity professional, I’m sharing some tips on how to use your space and time most effectively for the short and long term. Being organized isn’t fancy boxes and bins and complicated systems. It’s finding my stuff when I need it so I have the time to do the things I really want and need to do.
- Keep a schedule. It’s tempting to disrupt and drastically change schedules when things are in flux because so many commitments are off. While having flexibility to loosen a very regimented schedule is a plus, stick to a regular schedule as much as possible. It’s easy for the day to get away from you and you end up feeling unproductive and even more stressed.
- Routines work for a reason. Like keeping to a schedule, try to stick to your routine as much as possible for consistency. Stick with your morning ritual of meditation, workout (so many streaming options!), journaling, etc before you launch into the day. Remember, this too shall pass and a routine will make it easier to get back into the flow in the long term.
- Eat as healthfully as possible. Eat your meals at roughly the same time as you did before. Yes, an earlier dinner hour is great but be cautious of a long evening stretch that results in snacking. Make extras if possible for leftovers and make multiple salads at a time – they’ll keep in the fridge for days and you’ll have a healthy option easily available. It seems obvious to say but…avoid mindless snacking. Again, keep to your regular schedule and routine as much as possible so that boredom doesn’t undo healthy habits. Or, conversely, if you were NOT a healthy eater prior to being home full time, go slowly and mindfully. Pick the healthiest choices available and remind yourself that your Starbucks Frappuccino and bagel fix, while delicious, was also full of calories…
- Get dressed every day. Oh, this is a tough one for me! It’s tempting to spend our day in yoga pants and sweatshirts because unless we have a video call, who the heck is seeing us anyway? But getting dressed is just as much about our mental wellbeing as our physical appearance. If all you can muster is clean sweatpants and stretchy top, at least it’s better than spending a workday in your pajamas. Pajama Day was for elementary school for a reason.
- Create a workspace. Working in front of the tv or on your bed is not ideal. Even if you have to cordon off a section of your kitchen counter or dining room table, commit to that space. Make sure you have your chargers in that space and good lighting. For a good video call, you need bright lighting, ideally with a wall behind you. Keep your work files and papers there and only there. Spreading out throughout your personal space – even if you have the room – is not ideal. Think of this as a really great commute to your “office”.
- Clear your cookies and browsing history to speed up your processing time. You have to be your own IT department right now. Clean up your system so it runs optimally. Also, to keep your wifi at critical speed, take anything offline you’re not using. Gaming systems and other devices, even when inactive, are also on the wifi.
- Prioritize and chunk out your work. Like sticking to a schedule, prioritizing and chunking out your work projects makes you most efficient. Set the timer on your phone for 50 minutes (the optimal “focus” time) and bang out a task (responding to emails, writing a report, making calls). At the same time, set your student up with corresponding “classroom” time if age-appropriate. When the timer goes off, take a quick stretch break and then pick another task and reset the timer.
- Write a “to do” list. This seems simple but it’s amazing how things get away from us when we feel we have so much time to complete tasks. Pick your top priorities, 1 or 2 is good, and be sure those get done. Right now it might be helpful to create separate lists for personal (call Grandma to check in), business (complete month-end numbers) or home-related (order more diapers on Amazon). By focusing on the most critical tasks, we’re likely to get them done, feel accomplished and able to move on to other tasks.
- Be kind to yourself and others. This situation is, well, unsettling and stressful. We’ve never experienced something like a pandemic so we’re all in unchartered waters. Lead with an open heart and mind when you feel that you or others have fallen short. Kindness matters, especially right now.
- Ask for help when you need it. Now is NOT the time to “go it alone” or feel that you have to be super-human and soldier on. NOW really is the time to ask for help when you need it. We might not be able to come over and babysit the kids so you can work (#socialdistancing) but we can suggest some fun and educational websites, lend an ear and heart, send a funny meme, and be in this together (at least virtually…).