Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic might prove challenging. If you are an active person, who’s job requires constant moving, for example, working from home might feel restrictive. If you work in an office, although it might seem that there is no significant difference, you might observe that the quality of your work isn’t the same when done from home.
The most important thing is to understand it’s only natural to experience those feelings and that your work can’t be put into comparison with the way you do it when things are normal. Those aren’t normal times, and adaptation is one of the most important skills we have to survive with the little damage possible.
Accept what you live
The first and most important thing is to accept abnormality. The isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a new experience for many people. It comes with a feeling of threat, anxiety, and uncertainty. It is hard to work under such circumstances, so don’t put to much pressure on you, don’t force yourself and the reality we are all living with unrealistic goals. Take one day at a time, one task at the time.
You need to understand that your brain has more important things to do, like keeping you safe. It is an unconscious process that might undermine your cognitive functions and not let you do the tasks you need to do. Take it easy, don’t fight it. Just breathe. Breathing will tell your brain that you are not in imminent danger, that you are in control.
Find a new routine
Like or not, we are all Pavlov. When the light turns on, we expect to be fed. Every work has its routine. It starts with the preparation to go work, the trip we take to get to work, the little rituals we have when we get there until we actually start working. All of these prepare your body and your mind to become up to the tasks our job requires from us.
A rupture as big as the one we are living can seriously impair our concentration and focus. We might find ourselves incapable of fulfilling a task, reading the same sentence five times before we start to understand what is saying. So, try and create a new ritual before you sit and start working.
Don’t overwhelm yourself
The temptation to disrupt your rhythm might be enormous. Trying to do much more on a shorter time, or trying to do the work for two-three days in just one isn’t going to work. You can’t make the reality disappear, the pandemic and its threat are still out there.
And your cognitive and emotional resources know it, they can’t be buried in work and complicated tasks. They will get mixed up, and you’ll find yourself making mistakes. And we all know how frustrating making mistakes is. You don’t need that frustration. Accept that you can be at your 100% efficiency.
Rationalize your efforts
We need the endurance to go through this pandemic. Endurance runners know that the most important thing is breathing, so the body doesn’t go to alert mode. First, they pace their breathing rhythm that paces the heart. Then, they try to achieve that state of physical effort that can sustain the breathing pace.
They learn to manage pain, to keep it into bearable parameters. It is precisely what you should do when you work in an unfriendly environment of home detention. Take it easy, with easy tasks, and as the mind adjust to the effort, progressively add difficulty.
Hold your expectations
Don’t full yourself into thinking that now is the time to prove what you are made of. It might end in disappointment, and you don’t need that now. If it happens to have that little extra that makes you a champion under stress, that’s a bonus. But don’t impose it onto yourself during this COVID-19 pandemic when you’re staying at home.
Don’t look at the end of the road but instead at what is in front of you—one task at a time. And then the next. This is not the time for the competition; don’t try to prove anything. It is a time that requires resistance.
Take short breaks every few hours and do those little things that make you feel good. Remember that food isn’t a healthy coping mechanism. Don’t rely on it. Work on a puzzle, spent time drawing with your kids, cook, talk to a friend, do yoga, knit something, Or read if you are up to it. If you can’t concentrate, it’s ok, reading might feel hard in the time of a pandemic. Also, don’t reward yourself with an extra cup of wine.
Avoid news bloating
Although you might feel it is essential to stay connected with the news, remember it is just the fear taking over yourself. The need to know every step it takes gives an unreal feeling of control that will become anxiety once you power off the tv/internet. And you will end up turning it on again, which will impair your working mood. It can become obsessive, and you don’t need it. Keep being informed but put boundaries.
Limit the times you open the news channels during the COVID-19 pandemic and ignore outside influence telling you that now is the time you can do or achieve all those things you never had time to. What we are all living is resistance running, not a sprint.