3 Aspens Media is no stranger to remote work. As writers and analysts and creatives, we are accustomed to the solitude of working in non-traditional settings. Yet, nothing quite prepares you for a global crisis that creates a sudden shift in your workday, causing you to balance work with homeschooling children and managing home life. Stress management is key. That’s why the team at 3 Aspens Media sat down to brainstorm some tips for working remotely during difficult times.
Check out these tips and tools for working remote during COVID-19:
1. Get Dressed
Seriously it helps. It may be tempting to forego office apparel for something more comfortable, but daily rituals such as grooming and dressing can have a big impact on how we feel about ourselves and our productivity levels. A quick shower, some fresh clothes and cup of coffee can make all the difference in the world. Plus, you’ll be ready for an impromptu video chat with that big client or your office mates.
Pro Tip: If you don’t get dressed for “work,” good trick is to have a scarf, pullover or jacket near your desk to wear for video calls.
2. Create a Schedule
Let’s be honest. With everyone’s life turned upside down, staying focused on any task can be challenging. If you are working remotely, homeschooling your children, worrying about the health of your loved ones and the economy, you may be a bit distracted. Creating a flexible schedule can help you maintain a sense of control in spite of everything going on around you. Try to plan out time for meetings, work and other responsibilities. But, also be ready to toss those plans out the window.
Pro Tip: White boards are a great way to keep track of your daily tasks.
3. Create a Pleasing Workspace
Set yourself up for success with a clean and organized workspace. Set up your area with happy baubles or pictures, anything to create a bright and cheerful place to work. Find an area in your home that can be designated as your work area, a clear separation from living areas if possible. It’s important that you are able to walk away from your work at the end of the day.
4. Communicate Well and Often
Any time you change the normal course of events, there is bound to be confusion. Be deliberate and clear in your communication with your coworkers, customers and business partners. Be sure to follow up with one another regularly to be sure everyone is on the same page.
5. Explore New Tools
Don’t be afraid of video conferencing. There is a HUGE difference when you can see someone’s face vs. just a conference call. At 3 Aspens Media, we have weekly video calls (Zoom Video Communication), and use video for our one-on-one calls. We also use Slack. It’s an amazing way for teams to connect, share ideas about projects and sometimes just have a laugh.
6. Limit Exposure to News and Media
Be mindful of how much news you’re absorbing and pay attention to how it affects your body and mind. We find it’s easier to focus and be productive if we wait until after work to get our daily recap of everything happening in the world.
7. Stay Active
Pay attention to those physical and emotional cues that say it’s time to breathe in some fresh air, work up a sweat or seek a change of scenery (even if it’s your own backyard). Not only does this calm an overactive and stressed mind, but it encourages creativity and efficiency in your work.
8. Take Breaks
We all have split attention with everything that’s going on, plus many families are home as well. So, take that extra break and know when it’s time to log off. Limit distractions with a time management technique called Pomodoro. One of our team members is using tomato-timer.com, a 25-minute timer to focus your attention for short bursts which then rewards you with a 5-minute break. Sometimes, it’s better to pause that important task and walk away for a moment and give your mind a chance to reset itself.
9. Be Real with Others
Be honest with those on the other end of the line. We’re all human. Many of us are balancing work with kids. Let people know there’s a good chance there could be a disruption. It not only helps to take the stress off wondering when your child will suddenly run into the room asking for a snack or have a full-on tantrum. 3 Aspens Media’s President Lindsay Young had a recent experience when her 3-year old daughter yelled from the basement that she was stuck! Clearly, she had to go fix that.
10. Maintain Self Care
Working from home can sometimes blur the line between your professional life and your home life. That’s why it’s critical to keep personal care a priority and not an afterthought. With barbershops, salons and fitness centers closed around the country, it can be tough to maintain all of your personal care routines, but it is possible. There are countless fitness videos on the web you can find for free to jazz up your workouts. Take time to eat well, get plenty of sleep and make time for fun throughout your day.
11. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Be kind to yourself and others, whether they are your children, spouse, coworkers or strangers. Understand that this is a moment of time that we have never experienced. There is no playbook that offers step by step instruction on how we should feel, act or react to this situation. Understand that you and everyone else is doing the best we can and that this will pass. Have empathy for yourself and others.
We’re here for you. Want to talk remote work? Content you need to be creating right now in light of the pandemic? Share homeschooling war stories? Give us a call or reach out to us at [email protected].