Coping with Working from Home During COVID-19
By Catline Jacques, MD
How many mornings have you shut off that alarm, wishing you could just work from home in your PJs? Well now many of us are getting our wish thanks to COVID-19.
While in theory working from home may seem ideal, the reality for many of us is that it’s, well, kind of a pain. Particularly if you have young children home from school that you now have to teach while still keeping productive at work.
The fact is, this sudden and unexpected disruption to our daily lives has many of us feeling stressed!
Here are some ways you can cope with working from home for the unforeseeable future.
1. Get Your Space Right
If you don’t have a dedicated home office, you’ll want to figure something out ASAP. Having the right space at home will help you focus on the tasks at hand. It will also automatically set boundaries with family.
Do you have a spare room you can use? Is there an area in your finished basement that could work? If not, clear off the dining table and set up there.
2. Keep Your Regular Schedule
You may want to treat the next 2-3 weeks as a sort of family vacation, but it’s best if you and the kids stick to your regular routines. That means getting up and going to bed at the same time, showering, getting dressed and having breakfast as you normally would. Straying from routine will demotivate you to complete the work that needs to get done.
3. Take Advantage of the Flexibility
While it’s important to keep to your routines, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of having more time on your hands. Instead of spending an hour plus on a commute each day, you could use that time to catch up on home projects that have been on your to-do list for a while. You can also use the added time to reconnect with your family.
4. Give Your Kids Structure
Kids need structure, so give them some each day. This could mean giving them three options of how they will spend the afternoon: playing with Legos in the living room, watching a movie or quiet reading in their bedrooms. Be sure to take a break from work every couple of hours to check in with your kids to answer any questions they may have. Lord knows they ALWAYS have some!
5. Get Some Virtual Babysitters
On those days when you have to conduct many meetings and get much done, consider reaching out to family and friends to arrange virtual playdates with the kids. Thanks to Skype and FaceTime, your virtual babysitters can read, play games and interact with your kids online while you get some important work done.
If you find you are getting a bit squirrelly, even after following these tips, you can always reach out to a mental healthcare provider who can give you some more ideas of how to manage the stress.
If you’d like to speak to someone, please reach out to me. At this time, I am able to conduct sessions via telepsychiatry, so you don’t even have to leave your home if your state is on lockdown.
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