22 Mar It’s a Covid marathon
I would have never imagined to write this kind of blog post. Just as all of us would have never imagined to be living in our homes for an undefined number of weeks, without being able to go out, go to work, meet our friends, bring our kids to school…we feel like in a blockbuster scenario, stuck in a couple of square meters, anxious to even go for groceries. Our basic routines are threatened, we watch the news and worry, Covid-19 is in all our discussions, we do not know what will happen next. Will the contamination rate go down? When will we get our freedom back? When can we go back to work? And when can we send our kids back to school?
Yes, all of this sitting at home would be nice if we had a couple of extra vacation days and could relax on the couch, read books, have a nice cappuccino and practice yoga all day! If you are like me, then reality does not look like that though! In reality, we have to work from home, without actually seeing our colleagues and clients, but WITH our kids around. We have to simultaneously home school them, be creative, limit the number of screen hours, explain why home is the best place to be, stay calm, cook and tidy! That is like being a 200% stay at home parent while working 100% on top. WOW! Who can do this?
I must say, the first week was pretty ok. Sun was shining, in Switzerland we are still allowed to go outside without being fined, kids are quite excited to learn things from their parents and some video calls with their best friends kept up the spirit. Yet, this was only week 1! How are we going to talk about this in week 8? Here is my prognosis: those who consider this as a marathon will win, stay mentally healthy, enjoy their family time, invent break through business ideas and be able do things at home they never had time to do before; those who prefer the sprint will end up in Covid-burnout.
You will need to hold your pace through the long run, through an undefined number of weeks. So set yourself up for success! How? Here a couple of humble tips from my side:
- Keep a tight schedule
Humans need routine. We do not function very efficiently without a framework. So, I can only suggest to keep the same timings as if you went to the office and brought your kids to school. Wake up at the same time, make your bed, start work and school at a fixed time. We start with a 15-minute singing and dancing moment to welcome the day and set the mood for the more productive sessions. Write down the schedule for your kids and align with every family member on who does what and when. Make sure to plan breaks and rest moments, if you are 2 parents alternate the supervision and play time. Give yourself and your kids rewards when the work is done and give enough free time for them to develop their creativity. And when it’s time, set your work away and go over to your evening family routine. You do not need to be in military mode, but being tough on this one will help you to smoothly move throughout the weeks, feel in control and be satisfied with your days.
- KonMari your home office
Working from home might not be easy, especially if you have never been used to it. And you won’t be very efficient unless you feel comfortable and in peace. Here a couple of tips:
- Set up a dedicated working space away from distractions. Clarify your working hours with your family. Switch off all unnecessary internet, call, TV distractions while working.
- Set up the technology needed to fight isolation: chats, videoconferences, calls, mails…all of those will allow you remain socially active and in touch with your colleagues.
- Declutter your desk and working area and re-organize thoroughly. To do so, take out everything from that area. Sort into sub-categories (paper supplies, printer utensils, pencils, envelopes…) and discard all the items you do not need anymore. Remove all the items that belong somewhere else in your home and relocate them. Finally, re-organize while keeping subcategories together. Store items you frequently need to access close by, put paper supplies in trays or magazine holders. If you have client files or info documents, now is the time to sort through and reorganize as well. Keep a clean desk surface, only the most essential items should remain there. Set up a paper management system (e.g. horizontal trays) where you keep your to-do and to-file papers. Chose inspiring decoration and plants.
- If you have small children, and need to watch or home school them while working, set up a dedicated area for them so they can “come to the office” with you. Plan the activities the evening before, explain the rules (e.g. when I am on the phone you cannot talk), make the kids responsible for their chores.
Oh, and make sure you have a printer and cartridge supply to print the activity sheets and homework. 🙂
- Work through a home to-do list
This is it! You have no excuse to go out, you can calmly face your home, your belongings, your sanctuary. Write a “home” to do list, with all the items you would like to do, clean, repair, work on in the next couple of weeks. You can try do one of them every day or create bigger projects. One thing is for sure: these little tasks will replace some exercise, keep you busy, provide satisfaction and be nice breaks from work. You can do them by yourself or with your kids. Example are:
- Cleaning. According to Marie Kondo, cleaning can be a meditative act. “In Buddhist temples and shrines, monks and nuns clean throughout the day as part of their spiritual practice – dusting, polishing and sweeping their way toward inner peace.” You can spring clean your fridge, dish washer, windows, balcony, suit cases, pantry…I am sure you will find dirt spots in your house J
- Organizing. Just as you organize your home office, start organizing the rest of your house!
- Repairing. Do you have broken things? Bikes? Toys? Clothes? Check on youtube how to do it, and repair your stuff!
- Gardening. Tend to your garden if you have one, and if you don’t start planting herbs or tomatoes on the balcony or windows!
- Learning. Learn how to make home-made pasta, produce your own detergent, grow strawberries, play the guitar or nit.
- Maintain daily exercise
On top of kids and cleaning, I would highly suggest some additional exercise. Go out and run, take the stairs, bike, stretch, follow a yoga class online. There are thousands of ways to keep exercising even if you cannot go outside!
- Take joy moments whenever you can
This Corona-situation is obviously very scary. But it is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to change things in your life and think out of the box. Be innovative and come up with new business ideas. Call your family and friends and take virtual apéros. Take slow moments for yourself without having a bad conscience. Work more efficiently, e.g. while taking a bath. Read your favorite books instead of getting a Covid-19 news overload. Play…yes I said PLAY with your kids. Even better: be a kid. Go with them on a pirate ride, build a pillow cavern, dance the hell out of your home. Get back to the basics and learn new recipes, start a compost, and enjoy the spring flowers.
In sum, be grateful, take care of your loved ones and remember, that we “only” have to stay at home. We can do this! We can get to the finish line of this marathon! Go go go!
Photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash