Oh, if only I had a dollar for every time……..
“Sorry, I was on mute…”
“Gary, you’re still on mute…will someone text Gary and tell him he’s on mute?”
Tired of all this yet? Here are some tips for surviving (and maybe even thriving) during the work-from-home pandemic.
Schedule with care
Working from home has led many of us to have video-conference call overload. Walks down the hallway to deliver a message or get quick feedback that would have taken 2-3 minutes are now scheduled in half-hour blocks. These meetings often lead to a cascade of new, 30 or 60 minute meetings. Take back control when you can. Believe it or not, your calendar app *does* allow you to schedule a 20 minute meeting. Even 25 minutes, giving everyone 5 minutes back to use the bathroom or wrangle the kids can go a long way.
Be respectful of time
Meeting leaders, I’m talking to you. Just like a doctors office that notoriously runs late because the first visit of the day started late or ran over, allowing meetings to unnecessarily run over time can create an entire butterfly effect for everyone involved. Unless there’s a good reason, if you’re running the meeting, be a good steward of everyone’s time and end on time. Wrap it up Gary.
Yeah it’s getting colder in much of the US. But simply stepping outside for 10 or 15 minutes, getting some fresh air and stretching your legs can go a long way preventing brain fatigue. Look it up, it’s science. Taking a call that doesn’t require screen-time is a good opportunity to go for a walk.
Don’t let email control your life
Check out this article from Harvard Business Review. It’s a great start and we couldn’t have said it any better. Saving a little time every day on email can make a big difference over time!
Take a screen break
If you do get some respite from the deluge of conference calls and email checking, don’t use that break to look at your phone. Give your eyes and brain a break, even if it’s a little one. Screen time breaks are a good idea anyway, but especially important right now!
Keep a normal meal routine
Raise your hand if you’ve suddenly started skipping breakfast because you’re juggling getting the kids ready for school with an 0730 start on a conference call. Or perhaps you’ve missed a few lunches because no one is listening to the aforementioned tips about meeting schedules or email. It’s hard, we get it and we agree. Something as simple as allowing time for an actual lunch break used to be accepted as completely normal. For some reason the pandemic has created a ‘work through the day’ mentality that is difficult and isn’t sustainable. Try your best to give yourself that break and keep a schedule.
Connect with people outside the grind
Human connection is undoubtedly at an all-time low. We’re all feeling it in some capacity (or loving it for some of you misanthropes out there). Many of us didn’t realize until deep into this pandemic that we actually do obtain energy from, and give it to, other people through simple connection. Trying to actually connect with people outside of the scheduled calls, whether it’s to vent or just catch up, can be refreshing and give both of you a boost. Never underestimate how much they might need it too!
Give yourself a break
This has all affected each of us differently. For this author, I’ve definitely gone through a couple of low points during all of this that hit especially hard. Thankfully I was able to share this with a spouse that understood and pointed out that I needed to cut myself some slack. I took a vacation day for a long weekend, said the serenity prayer quite a bit and slowly started to internalize that I could only control the controllables. It still isn’t easy and the lows will come. But give yourself a break now and then.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
As lighthearted as some of these previous suggestions are, this year has been rough. And ‘post-Covid’ may be a while. Be kind to others and try to respect that your co-workers may be having a rough time adjusting and you may be in the same boat in a day, a week or a month from now. Be kind. And if it’s you that’s struggling, know that you’re not alone. BetterHelp has some great resources and may be a good place to get started. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health during this pandemic and there’s no shame in talking to someone about how rough this is right now. Hang in there, “we’ll get through this together!” (Someone owes me another dollar)