The coronavirus outbreak meant that millions of parents across the globe are now facing the impossible task of being a parent, worker, and teacher. Getting through your day is difficult enough when you’re trying to work from home with children. However, when you also have to home school, it can be very challenging. If you’re trying to find the right balance in these unprecedented times, there are some tips you can follow. Here, we’ll look at some of the steps, you can take to accomplish your new role without losing your mind.
Create and work from a schedule
Creating and maintaining a schedule during this time is invaluable. Children need a schedule. You also need one to help you keep up with your increased duties. Start with making one for the kids. You can include educational activities, playtime, and mealtimes. When they know what they are working on, and have a schedule, it makes it so much easier for all involved. Kids need a routine and they’ll be a lot happier when they’re following one.
Make time for physical and physical activities
When you need to get on with an important project, it can help to get the kids immersed in an engaging activity. Craft projects tend to be a popular option. They are fun and take a while to complete. You’ll find hundreds of craft project ideas online. Try and find something which utilizes supplies you already have in the home. Then, they can be getting on with their crafts while you complete your important work tasks. For a comprehensive list of indoor activities, grab your copy of the Ultimate Guide to Indoor Fun. It can be tough trying to work when the kids have bundles of energy. So, why not help them burn off that energy so you can work in peace? Getting them to partake in physical activity helps to wear them out as well as keep them healthy. So, encourage time running around in the back yard. You could create a mini assault course or look online for physical games you could play. Once they’ve finished their physical activity, they will more likely want to play quietly for a period of time.
Don’t try to become a teacher
Now that the kids are off school, you may feel like you have to become a teacher. You really don’t. Some parents chose to intensely research and familiarize themselves with the topics covered at school, and in the process become overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead, focus on educational activities they can do such as reading. You can also set up things such as sensory buckets and let them use educational apps. If the school provided digital work they can follow, don’t forget to utilize that too. If you look online, you might also find free workbooks.
Talk through any issues with your employer
If you are having issues juggling everything, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer. They may give you additional days off, so you can get used to the new arrangement. Remember, there are a lot of people going through the same situation right now. It’s not easy but remind yourself that it is only temporary.
Take advantage of nap times
If your kids are still quite young, make sure you take advantage of nap times. These are the perfect opportunity for you to get a bulk of your work done without having to worry about keeping an eye on them.
Ensure you have a quiet workspace
One thing you’re going to need when you’re working from home with the kids is a quiet workspace. It should be away from all distractions and ideally, space where you won’t be disturbed. Of course, this can be tricky, but if you explain to the kids that you can’t be disturbed and why it’s important, you’ll find they are typically willing to listen.
In usual times, you try to limit your child’s exposure to technology. However, when you’re trying to work from home, you’ll find technology can be a real help. When you don’t want to be disturbed, let the kids watch a movie or play on a smartphone or tablet device. This will keep them occupied for a longer period of time, allowing you to take that conference call for example. It’s not easy working from home with kids, but it isn’t impossible either. Follow the above tips to make it that little bit easier during these difficult times.
Until the next post,
Several major US blue-chip companies have recently announced employees will continue working from home for the rest of the year. Last month, several news outlets reported Twitter employees can now do so permanently! Sounds like a dream, right? Living in NYC, on any given day, you share the subway with millions of straphangers. The service operates 24/7 (until a recent temp change, due to COVID), no matter what time of the day or night, commuters ride the trains. I would welcome this transition, but can I do it permanently? I am not sure. So many pros and cons. I recognized working from home will be part of the new normal, as employers scramble to keep their workforce safe while operating.
If like me, you’ve been working from home for the past several months, you will agree, that one of the pitfalls of working from home, is how isolating it can be. When you’re used to working in an office setting surrounded by colleagues, it can suddenly feel quite lonely working by yourself. That’s why it is important to keep connected to the outside world. So, how can you stay connected when working from home? Consider the following tips.
Host regular group chats with colleagues
As you won’t be seeing your colleagues face to face, it’s important to keep in touch digitally. Hosting regular group chats can really help. Ideally, you’ll want to set aside specific times to do this. Having a group chat first thing in the morning before you start work is a good idea. That way, you’ll be able to get clarification on any projects you’re working on together.
Take advantage of social media
While you’ll want to limit social media while you’re working, it can still prove useful for staying in touch. To ensure you don’t waste time on it, a good idea is to set aside specific social media times. This gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues without it negatively impacting your productivity.
Utilize video calls
Technology has come a long way over the past decade. You don’t need to be in the same room, to keep in touch with clients and colleagues. Instead, you can utilize video calling software. Whether you use something like Apple’s Facetime or Skype, the ever-popular Zoom, you can feel much more connected to people. The ability to hear and see them can make a big difference in limiting how isolated you feel.
Set reminders for birthdays and events
You can still celebrate special occasions and events such as birthdays, by setting yourself calendar reminders. This will ensure that even when you’re out of the office, you still stay connected with colleagues during these special times. I had a birthday during the lockdown. Since I had to cancel my trip to Central America, I decorated my space with traditional colors from each country, ate like locals do, listened to their music, and watched travel stories. I tried to follow the day’s exact schedule of activities as much as I can, virtually.
Respond to communication quickly
If you receive emails from colleagues and clients, make sure you respond quickly. When you’re working in isolation, waiting hours, or even days, just to get a reply can be tough. So, ensure your colleagues and clients don’t feel ignored by responding as quickly as you can to communication.
Look into networking opportunities. There are meetup groups, business networks, and other opportunities to get together with other like-minded people. You might even grow your business (if self-employed) through these activities. Get out of the house on a regular basis and mingle. Go to meetup.com and get started.
Create a routine. It might not make sense, but having a routine can help to beat feelings of isolation. It’s easy to sit and stare out the window when you work alone. Having a schedule prevents this. You’ll also know when your next dose of human contact is coming. Make a routine and force yourself to stick with it.
Get a pet (if you can). Consider getting a dog. A fish or cat might be more your style, but dogs are more interactive. Your dog will always be happy to see you. The cat might not care. No one will understand just how brilliant you are more than your dog.
These are some of the best ways to stay connected when you’re working from home. It isn’t always easy, but if you make the effort, you’ll feel much less isolated. It can be a real shock to the system moving from office to home working. So, allow yourself a period of adjustment to deal with the changes and adopt a more flexible working approach. Isolation and self-employment, and or working from home, don’t have to go hand-in-hand. With a little planning, you can find plenty of people to share part of your day. You don’t have to suffer just because you work at home. There are options for enjoying regular human contact. Take advantage of them and leave your isolation behind.
Until the next post,
I had every intention of posting much earlier than today. As a person of color living in NYC, as you can imagine, recent events surrounding the death of George Flloyd in MN, USA, have captivated our attention. I needed time to step back, reflect, and decide what is next. I know you are bombarded from news all over the world already, but let me just say this, if you have supported the cause and movement in any way, THANK YOU. Now onto my WFH series!
One thing you have to master when you work from home is minimizing distractions. Household chores, TV, social media, and kids are some of the big ones. So, how exactly should you deal with these distractions to ensure you can work more efficiently? Below, you’ll discover some great tips. I hope you find them useful.
Turn distractions into rewards.
Distractions don’t have to be a bad thing. They can be used to reward yourself after completing work tasks. For example, if you love nothing more than to curl up in front of the TV watching your favorite shows, allow yourself the opportunity to watch something after completing a big project. Similarly, you could use social media in the same way. Once you’ve completed a task off your to-do list, reward yourself with a short period of time on your social media channels. Using distractions as a reward can help to keep you stay focused, and boost your motivation to get your work done.
Consider working in various parts of the home
It’s common to set aside just one place to work from. However, did you know you may find it more productive to work in various areas of the home? It’s all about adding variety into your new working environment. Some days, the spare room may be the best place to get work done. Other times, you may find it more beneficial to work on the dining room table, or in the back yard. Don’t limit yourself to where you can work, mix it up, and watch your productivity levels increase.
Add a little background music
This tip might not be useful to everyone, but many professionals claim working with background music, can limit their distractions. You’ll want to focus on calming music, rather than something that makes you want to sing along. Alternatively, listening to podcasts and audiobooks in the background can also work well. So, if you struggle with productivity, try adding a little background noise and see if it makes a difference.
Check emails sparingly
Checking emails is important when you work from home. However, it can also take up a lot of time. Try to limit how many times you check them during the day. Ideally, first thing in the morning, then after you’ve completed each task you’re working on. Some adjustment is required, depending on the type of work project.
Turn off notifications
Finally, a great tip is to turn off those notifications. Social media, news, and app notifications can prove really distracting when you’re working from home. It’s not always easy limiting distractions when you work from home, but it can be done, and with practice, it will become a norm for you.
Until the next post,
Let’s be real, the pandemic caught many people with their pants down. The list is long. There is more than enough coulda, shoulda, woulda, to go around. Millions were not prepared to work from home. However, we managed, we quickly adapted to our new normals. Have you now made plans to change how you live and work? Do you no longer want to be tied to your 9-5 desk? Reopening NYC will take place in stages, however, we are getting close, and it looks like sometime next month, the majority of us will be back on the road. Last month, the only Birthday promise I made to myself, was to not let the next one, find me slaving away for an employer. No sir. I am getting ready for a full-time self-employed role, working from home!
So, how do you and I set up the “office” environment to accommodate the new and emerging trends? If you want to boost your productivity levels when working from home, it helps to set up an office. Having an area purely dedicated to working will help you to separate work from leisure. The question is, how can you set up an effective home office environment? Here, you’ll discover some of the best ways to do so, and other key things to consider.
Consider how long you’ll be working from home.
The first thing you need to think about is how long you’ll be working from home. If it’s only a very short period of time, it would be pointless investing in an entire home office set up. In this case, it would be better to invest in just the essentials. However, if you have the budget, and plans to continue working from home, it could be worth setting up a permanent home office. Do it once, in the right way, and it will pay off in the long run.
Making sure you have the right equipment.
You’re going to need some level of equipment to work from home. At the very least, a laptop or desktop computer and a desk. If you aren’t setting up a permanent home office, you can use things such as the dining room table or a makeshift bedroom office. Some people are even getting creative and using an ironing board as a stand-up desk option. Space needs to be dedicated to working and away from general foot traffic. Chances are you will be accessing private information for companies and other employees. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you are home, it’s okay to leave your computer unlocked, when you step away. Consider how you would react if you found out, your personal information was left unprotected. Another important thing to consider is a reliable, secure internet connection. So many American companies are now requiring WFH employees to use a wired, Ethernet connection. Personally, I hate slow internet connections! Last year, I upgraded to 1Gig speed, I can’t go back.
You need natural sunlight.
When you’re stuck indoors, you won’t be getting as much natural sunlight as you usually would. This can have an impact on how productive and motivated you are. Numerous studies have revealed the damaging impact limited natural daylight can have, on workers in an office setting. The same applies to the home. Try to set up your home office space in a part of the home, which helps you to benefit from some form of daylight. If there isn’t a space available, you might want to consider investing in a daylight bulb. These are designed to replicate natural daylight.
Focus on Comfort
Your home office should be a comfortable place to work. This means, providing plenty of support for your back if you’re working at a desk for example. If you aren’t comfortable, you’re not going to get much work done. Whatever you do, please invest in a proper chair. Thank me later. You’ll also find it beneficial to surround yourself with things that make you happiest, such as photos of the family, plants, or flowers.
Take Meaningful Breaks!
If you are not mindful, you will work five or six hours before stopping for lunch. Give your eyes a break from the screen. It’s so tempting to have your phone close by to check social media, during your break. Get up and move around. Meaningful breaks include taking a walk, doing some stretches, reading a chapter from your favorite book, meditation, listening to music, etc. Make that time count. The 3pm slump will have nothing on you, and won’t leave you feeling drained and unproductive
These are just a few basics to consider when setting up a home office. Whether you’re setting up a permanent or temporary office space, your environment should encourage productivity, be comfortable, and gives you more than just freedom. Next week, we will look at how to deal with distractions.
Until the next post,
As a Social Work Contractor in one of the largest cities in the world, and the epicenter of the COVID pandemic in the USA, the last few weeks have presented unique challenges. I am responsible for more than 30 clients, each with either multiple addictions or comorbid mental health disorders. On a daily basis, I am literally putting out fires. While most of my client’s income is secured (Social Security, pension, etc), a few are self-employed, and now find themselves without an income
The IC has lost their primary sources of income, and with unemployment, website not built for millions of claims, needless to say, the backlog of claims processing has left some in “humbling” circumstances. Over the past year, I have been trying to get my clients to create an emergency fund, regardless of how much money they bring in. While this is not in my job description, I have been there, unprepared for when a disaster hits. A disaster doesn’t necessarily mean a pandemic, but differs for each of us; job loss, divorce, accident etc. How would most of us survive? Do we have at least 3-6 months of expenses stashed away? For many, the answer is “No”.
Unless you are a seasoned doomsday prepper, the current pandemic affecting our society may have caught you by complete surprise! Although this crisis is certainly a tragedy and should be treated as such, it should serve as a wake-up call that you need to plan for similar incidents in the future. Unfortunately, we have seen a large number of the population react to the pandemic, in extreme ways, and in some instances, even harmful to other individuals. Purchasing items in excess, and flooding the supermarkets has become normal.
Because of this trend, individuals who may need these resources far more than most, or have trouble accessing them, are suffering the most. In this post, I will address some sensible strategies, which address the current climate, as well as ensuring a future crisis doesn’t leave you unprepared and feeling hopeless.
Quality Over Quantity When Shopping
While there are some items that are essential to buy in bulk, such as toilet paper and basic medication, others can be purchased in moderation and still leave you prepared. When stocking up on food items for an emergency, focus on buying items with a long shelf life, and provide a large number of calories. In regard to water, it is certainly wise to have a stockpile of bottled water or gallon containers. However, you may want to look into some form of water filtration system. These devices are readily available and essentially provide an endless supply of drinkable water should your stash run low.
Maintaining An Emergency Fund
This tip applies to everyday life; you should always have some sort of nest egg available for unplanned expenses, such as a medical emergency or vehicle trouble. In this case of a pandemic, having an emergency fund becomes even more crucial. Consider the millions of individuals currently out of work and not receiving a steady flow of income. Having currency allocated to a situation such as the current crisis is absolutely essential.
Consider A Second Job/Side Hustle
Having worked with the homeless and formerly homeless for more than five years, I know the majority of us are one paycheck away from homelessness. No one anticipates losing their home, but it happens more often than you know! Do you have extra hours to earn a side income? What are your talents? Can you get paid to do something you love? You can use the extra money to build your emergency fund, pay off debt, go on a well-deserved vacation, invest, or save! A reputable site I have used and recommend, especially if you live in the US is Rat Race Rebellion. Currently, the US has more than 330 million people, by next month, experts estimate more than 20% of people will be unemployed-this should sober you up.
Establishing A Plan
Establishing a well-organized plan for you and your family is not something to do, in the middle of an emergency. Although it can seem quite excessive in the flow of everyday normal life, it is important you plan and discuss with your family exactly what to do, before the emergency happens. Be sure to cover the basics; where you will go, resources available, and what each person’s role will be.
Most of us take for granted the ability to maintain communication with friends and family. We assume our smartphones, computers, and televisions will always available. However, during emergency situations, where electricity and wireless connectivity are eliminated, it is important to have a plan, for maintaining the use of these devices. Consider investing in essentials like solar-powered chargers, a generator, and rechargeable batteries.
Basic Emergency Skills
An important thing to consider when preparing for a crisis is how to minimize the damage. A gas leak or electrical issue in your household can quickly become life-threatening during a natural disaster. Do you know how to shut off certain appliances and valves around the house? Furthermore, the ability to help someone in danger using basic CPR skills can be invaluable. Once again, these things are easy to disregard in everyday life but can become critically important very quickly.
It is a known fact that human beings do not think clearly in a panicked state. We see examples of this behavior in every crisis situation. When disaster strikes, being prepared is the best way to avoid panic. If you and your family have already discussed a well-established plan, you can eliminate rash decisions that can take a long time to rectify. It is a stressful time for many. If you have not done so yet, check out my last post for timely Resources to combat anxiety. While these suggestions are not exhaustive, they will guide your efforts to be better prepared.
Until next week,
How are you keeping during these turbulent times?! Parents with children being homeschooled, it’s even more difficult to balance work and home life. My followers diagnosed with PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, etc, have you found it even more difficult to combat the triggers of your mental illness? Many of you are divorced, separated, with no children at home, how do you spend your time? There are so many questions!
Yes, these are very uncertain times. Uncertainty rules the day, and the unknown is more distressing than anything else. Two months ago, our lives changed, dramatically. I live in NYC, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States. I was stunned by the level of death and destruction around me. After experiencing multiple symptoms for almost a month, I was finally able to get tested. Negative! I am fortunate, I know, and I hope the result is true. I was told to “power through my symptoms” some of which still persist today.
Three of my clients were directly impacted by COVID; one lost a mother, another a cousin, and the other was hospitalized for several days. I currently work at home, so for the past month, I have been putting out several fires, which is mostly the reason for my absence here. NYC is made up of strong, tough people. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Sandy, multiple airplane crashes, etc has not weakened the resolve to keep fighting. I expect us all to come through on the other side. Hundreds continue to die every day, but, the situation has stabilized; field hospitals being taken down, the NAVY Comfort has left, hospitalization rates have decreased, and we are finally “flattening the curve”.
Six out of seven continents have been affected by COVID-19. Besides the normal day to day hustle, and immense stress of daily living, we now have a pandemic to contend with. Today’s post will hopefully provide support on the panic affecting so many. Anxiety is not necessarily a new phenomenon, however, with all that is happening, it will only exacerbate the issue. We are so connected through the internet, social media, and other outlets, not only are we exposed to the issues in our immediate communities but across the entire globe. Furthermore, with so many working from home, or in some cases, those working on the frontlines, we are expected to juggle growing responsibilities simultaneously and remain productive. Anxiety varies in intensity and frequency, please use the following suggestions, and resources to improve your overall quality of life.
Live In The Moment
The only point in time in which you will EVER exist is right now. Ironically, most of us dedicate the bulk of our mental energy to the past or future. Anxiety often tricks us into replaying past mistakes in our heads over and over and worry about things that have not happened yet. A big part of dealing with anxiety is to live in the moment. This means focusing all of your physical and mental energy on what is going on right now. Not only does this simplify life, but it also allows you to get the most out of your limited time. Trying to deal with your entire past and future on a constant basis makes it virtually impossible to appreciate what is right in front of you. Over the years, Mindfulness and Meditation have helped to turn things around for me and completely changed my life. First I had to know who I am. Pick up a copy of this book Discover My Life’s Purpose. Doing so helped me to remain focused on the present moment. I was no longer worried about where I stood in comparison to others. My path was my own, and it did not matter if others agreed. they don’t have to! Learn how to. You too can learn how to Enhance Your Life With Mindfulness.
Control What You Can Control
The truth is, many of the issues causing anxiety in your life are beyond your control. This includes global and community issues, as well as problems in your personal life. What you need to realize is that the weight of the world is NOT on your shoulders, even though it can certainly so at times. Anxiety tells you to worry about solving problems that are out of your hands. In reality, focusing on the issues that you actually have the ability to resolve is a much healthier response. Awareness is the key to conquering fear created by the ego, which leads to anxiety. Once you’re aware of how your ego is creating fear and anxiety, then you can observe it, and learn to shape it. You have the power to stop the fear in your mind. It’s important to remember that all the negative scenarios in your head don’t have to happen in real life. They can stay as imaginary issues. They may never materialize or cause you heartache. You can control how you respond to challenges.
Yes, we are tired of Netflix and Chill, homeschooling, puzzles, and games, but there is so much more you can do, being stuck indoors. Learn how to create a family website, make a family movie, coding, create a film festival, go on a virtual field trip, etc. Take a look at this invaluable list I put together, with direct resource links in Ultimate Guide To Indoor Fun
It’s Okay To Not Feel Okay
Another side effect of anxiety is a feeling of isolation and loneliness. People experiencing anxiety on a routine basis, often believe they are the only ones dealing with the issue. Everyone else is much happier, and no one will accept us if they knew the extent of our anxiety. It is so important to realize, this is far from the truth. Everyone around you is experiencing some degree of anxiety and fear of the future. You are far from alone. Don’t feel like you have to go through life acting as if everything is okay when it isn’t. Recognize the feelings, accept them, embrace, and challenge them. Maya Angelou said ” We are more alike, than we are different”
Get Help If You Need It
Finally, if your anxiety is something you are having trouble dealing with on your own, then don’t! There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional help. Ironically, our society welcomes getting help for even minor ailments but shuns the same approach for serious mental issues. Consider this, if you had Pneumonia or another physical illness, you would seek the appropriate doctor for care. Why would you not do the same, if you are suffering from mental health issues, such as anxiety? There is help out there, get it if you need it! I have been blown away by the more than 100k medical and mental health professionals, who came to the aid of New Yorkers!
We can and will get through this. We are better together.
Until Next Week,
Most of us can agree positive thinking is important. It tends to make us feel better, be more productive and reduces stress. The problem is, our lives aren’t always rosy. Crises happen – be it on a personal level or something more widespread. That reality is a part of everyone’s life, and it makes keeping your spirits up tough.
If you are struggling to stay positive and hopeful when going through these or any other tough times, try these tips:
Don’t Put Your Head in the Sand
No matter what you are dealing with, ignoring it is rarely the answer. While ignoring problems might feel good in the short-term, it will sap your long-term positivity. Plus, many of the other tips listed here require you to acknowledge your circumstances first.
This Too Shall Pass
When you are in the midst of a crisis, it is nearly impossible to keep things in perspective. That said, you need to recognize your circumstances are temporary. Things might seem dire at the moment, but try your best to remember that “this too shall pass.”
Make a Plan
One of the single best things you can do to maintain positivity during tough times is to make a plan on how to deal with it. When you focus on the solution rather than the problem, you will naturally feel more positive. You will feel like you are rising to the challenge.
What are You Grateful For?
Even during great personal turmoil, there is always something to be grateful for. When things get tough, it is vital to remember there is good in the world, and more importantly, in your life. When you are struggling, take some time to list the things you have going for you!
Reach Out for Support
Support in and support out! Reach out to loved ones and offer your support. Reach out if you need assistance too. When things are dire, it is always reaffirming when people pull together and help each other.
Take a Break
Sometimes our circumstances are so dire that we are forced to think about our problems constantly. It is OK to take a break. You can take a break from the news, social media, or other people. It might not be easy but taking a break from external stimuli can help keep you positive.
Journal Your Feelings
Journaling is a powerful tool in so many ways. By simply giving you a place to express your fears and concerns, a journal helps you maintain positivity outside of its pages. Do you know how good it feels to vent to a friend? Well, consider your journal as your best friend.
Focus on Things You Can Control
When your world seems like it is spinning out of control, you may feel helpless. One way to address this and stay more positive is to focus on the things you can control. Do what you can with what you have.
Distractions are usually the worst. We are often trying to learn how to avoid or deal with them. They aren’t that bad when you are struggling to stay positive in tough times, though. No matter how silly they seem, you should embrace distractions that bring you joy in tumultuous times.
Write down your feelings. Think about everything you are dealing with and how it’s affecting you and write that down. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling; just focus on getting your feelings out of your head and onto paper.
Reach out. Whether you are reaching out to offer support or request it, reaching out will help you feel like part of a community. When we all work together, we can overcome anything.
Make a plan. Think about what your biggest struggle is right now and devise a plan to tackle it. Set some goals and deadlines. You will feel more positive by just having the plan, and even more positive if you act on it.
Until the next post,
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