It’s April 8, 2020. It’s been nearly one month since everyone at ArcStone started working from home. We went remote on March 12, 2020. Today, MN Governor, Tim Walz extended the “Stay at Home” order until May 4, 2020. Thank you, Governor Walz for your honest, transparent leadership!
I feel grateful to have a job that I can do while I stay safe at home. I’m grateful that I have access to food, a comfy home, loving family and friends, and too many other things to list. This is a privilege that lots of people don’t have. People of color are disproportionately dying from the coronavirus and essential workers on the front lines are risking their own safety to do their jobs. I know that being stuck at home may seem like a trivia in comparison but enlisting tactics that allow us to get through this safely is critical for us.
So, with several more weeks of being at home, how can we make the best of it?
When you’re at home so much, the days start to roll together and your work and home life blend together. Is it working from home or homing from work? I’ve had several conversations with people working 14 hour days and not “knowing” how or when to quit for the day. Conversely, I’ve talked to other people who feel unmotivated and can’t seem to be productive from home.
This blog post covers some ideas I’ve been experimenting with as I, along with you, try to figure out how to live with life’s uncertainty.
Make Your Bed
This may seem simplistic but making your bed will make you feel better. You’re spending more time at home and your bedroom may even need to serve as a home office in a pinch. The act of making your bed encourages you to keep your bedroom neat, boosts your mood, and is motivating.
I start my day with a walk and yoga. I like to start my day this way because it feels good and I’m less likely to “not have time” or to skip it. Research shows the muscle memory of willpower diminishes over the course of the day. So, if I schedule workouts first thing and over lunch, they’re more likely to happen.
Create a Schedule but Remain Flexible
Perhaps one of the toughest parts of the Coronavirus is the uncertainty. We don’t know when things will return to normal or what normal will even look like. While things are up in the air, it’s crucial to ground yourself with things you can control - the time you start work, the time you end work, connecting with others.
Here’s my schedule
5:40 am - Alarm goes off. Hit snooze twice.
6:02 am - Get up. Go downstairs to the kitchen. Drink a lemon water, listen to the news while unloading the dishwasher, make a cappuccino.
6:20 am - Do my thing on the mat.
7:30 am - Take a walk.
8:00 am - Start work.
12ish - Have lunch and take a walk, quick workout.
1:30pm - Work
4:00pm - Short break.
4:15 - Work.
5:30pm - Decompress and quick tidy.
6:00pm - Make dinner.
6:30pm - Free time.
11ish - Bed time.
Seeing this schedule written out like this seems really rigid and kind of comical. I’ve never written it out like this. In all times and especially now, be flexible! Things will come up and you won’t be able to adhere to your schedule. That’s okay.
Connect with Others
At ArcStone, we have daily huddles. Thankfully, we started this ritual long before COVID-19 was on our radar. We gather via Zoom and share news, our priorities for the day, and any challenges we’re having. It marks the beginning of the work day. It’s uplifting to see people’s faces too. It’s becoming more and more obvious that humans need connections as much as we need shelter.
I’m part of an exploratory leadership group organized by Studio/E. Before we were all working from home, we met in person. We had our first cohort meeting a couple of weeks ago online. I wasn’t sure how it would translate to this new format but I found it extremely helpful just to bounce ideas off of others and check-in with challenges I was feeling. Don’t underestimate an outsider’s perspective.
Take time to connect with friends and family. For me this has translated to Zoom coffees and happy hours, Facetime, and phone calls, I’ve actually connected with my family more during this time than before. I hope that doesn’t change once this is behind us.
Look for opportunities to learn and grow. Like many organizations, we’ve pivoted our in-person crash courses to an online webinar format. Visit our Events page to see our schedule. Likewise, Studio/E has some exciting programming you can take advantage of while you’re hunkered down at home.
Getting outside is vital at this time. We are fortunate to have a backyard (big by Uptown standards). In the past few weeks, it’s been transformed into an outdoor gym equipped with weights, a pull-up bar, and jump ropes. Tonight at dinner, our 19 year old freshman in college said he was grateful for our backyard and space to workout.
If you don’t have a yard, walk your neighborhood while practicing social distancing of course. You don’t need weights and equipment to get a sweat on. Go old school with jumping jacks, burpees, crunches, squats and all the favorites from 9th grade gym class.
When you get to the museum, you'll see thousands of discarded lifejackets, worn by refugees. The refugees were making their way from Turkey to Greece. It's especially moving right now.
It’s easy to get into the habit of consuming. There’s a lot of great content out there to watch and listen to. Unprecedented times call for creating! Remember that thing you liked to do as a 5th grader? Were you into drawing, painting, sewing, playing music, writing, cooking, baking, gardening? Get back to it. It won’t be perfect but it will feel good.
Make Your Home a Sanctuary
Keeping your house tidy during this time is essential. You don’t have to get into “deep cleaning” mode, unless you want to, but making sure things are put away and clutter is kept to a minimum. We’ve been tidying up our house daily and assigning chores on Sunday.
Limit Your Exposure to News and Social Media
We need to know what’s going on in the world but overdoing it on the news and social media can be detrimental. Limit your exposure and make sure the sources you select are trustworthy. When this whole thing started coming to a head a couple of weeks ago, I was listening to the news nonstop and checking social media much more than I regularly do. By the end of the day I was exhausted. Since then, I’ve been capping the time I spend on social media and listening to the news.
Be Gentle and Kind
This seems obvious but giving people extra slack right now is important. Take time to listen and understand. Be patient, gentle, and kind.