Remote work opportunities for military spouses have been on the rise over the past few years due to efforts made by a number of advocates and organizations. But during times like these, what is typically “flexible” becomes complicated.
Virtual careers are desirable because of the ability to coincide with hectic military life. Cue the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and companies scrambled to set up a remote work capabilities almost within 24-48 hours. However, the work-from-home model many military spouses envisioned is a stark difference from the reality we now face having to homeschool and entertain bored children while also completing tasks for our job.
The lack of face-to-face interaction, having your home also serve as your office, and children invading your space can quickly increase anxiety and make you question your sanity.
I have worked remotely for a majority of the past eight years, sometimes with children in the home, but granted not under these circumstances. I have, however, learned a few best practices that helped me get the job done.
Here are five ways to work from home in a COVID-19 world and not lose your sanity:
The long-term impact COVID-19 will have on our everyday lives remains to be seen but we do know that this is a fluid situation and things change by the day, hour, and even by the minute. Creating structure and organization for you and your family will provide a sense of peace in a time of much uncertainty. Get plenty of sleep and develop a schedule for everyone in your house. Set expectations with your family and friends regarding their role in helping you be successful. This could be things such as understanding when it’s okay to come in your working space or simply tell them your scheduled work hours. With everyone on the same page, it prevents you from becoming overwhelmed by constant interruptions and helps you to stay focused. However, be sure to show everyone grace, even yourself.
Set up a designated working space.
By setting up an area of your home to work from, this creates a clear distinction between work and home life. It enables you to mentally shift to being “at work”. Without a designated office space, it is easy to work more than usual. It can also be hard to stay focused and become distracted by the kids, laundry, TV, and other household chores. Having the physical barrier makes a world of difference!
Dress the part.
The freedom to work in your pajamas or workout gear is highly attractive and often considered one of the many benefits of working from home. However, by making a concerted effort to “dress” for work, it helps to shift your mindset for the tasks of the day and is a confidence booster. Who doesn’t like looking nice and put together? You’ll also be prepared for a sudden skype meeting and sets the stage for a sense of normalcy.
Time blocking is a time-management technique that increases productivity and puts you in control of your day. This method, in general, is good practice and time-blocking your breaks is no exception. The purpose is to allow for a flow of focused work to get more done; not to become a never-ending to-do list. Try scheduling five-to-15-minute-breaks between blocks to get up from your desk. You will approach each block of work feeling rejuvenated if you reward yourself throughout the day with small breaks.
Get your blood pumping.
Being inside the house day-in and day-out without the daily social interaction that a traditional office setting offers can become lonely which affects mood and productivity. Make an effort to engage in some form of exercise which has been proven to have a positive impact on mood. Take advantage of the fitness professionals that have started to live stream classes and workouts or take your workout outside and enjoy the sunlight.