How to work from home, run a home school, and not lose it

Last week, I saw a post on Instagram that framed up this whole scary COVID-19 situation for me. It said, “Kinda feeling like Mother Nature has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done.”

We’re all navigating this new normal in different ways. We’re experiencing fear, anxiety, and frustration at the freedoms and, in many cases, sources of income that have so quickly been lost. There’s no road map, no end destination, and no clear answer to what support we'll get from our governments around the world.

We find ourselves thrown into a totally new reality: running home schools and home offices with little to no physical human contact outside of our immediate families.

As someone who lives next to one of the epicenters of this virus, I’ve been in lockdown for over three weeks now. In that time, I’ve quickly discovered some practical insights for how to get through this effectively, without letting the situation get the better of you.

Start with why.

Human performance always starts with understanding our own deep-rooted purpose. In this situation, it can be hard to understand why all of this is happening. But, if you really think about the message Mother Nature is sending to us right now, you can see the silver lining of this crisis.

Learning to sacrifice for the greater good is something that our grandparents will be relieved to see us finally do. Appreciating so many things that we’d long taken for granted, learning that we can get by with less of the human activity that’s been polluting Earth, learning that physical distancing can make room for new ways to connect. These are just some of the many, many things we can take the time to be grateful for. This way of thinking will help us get through the months of uncertainty ahead.

Get in position to thrive.

Now, I learned this one super fast. Within a week of being at my desk for eight hours a day without breaks, my back was hurting and I had shoulder pain. I quickly realized that my desk was not set up correctly. Luckily for me, my childhood best friend is literally in the business of helping people optimize their work setups. So, Randa came to the rescue with some excellent tips that I’m happy to share. 

If, like me, your head was looking down at your laptop screen – you need to elevate it immediately. All it takes is some big books to prop up your screen and a separate keyboard. Likewise, it’s incredibly important to sit at a chair that holds up your posture with room for your knees to tuck properly under your desk.

Schedule your exercise.

I’m someone who finds it easy to work out every day. But in this weird new reality, without a train to catch or a class to make, I find my regular exercise routine slipping. I’ve quickly learned that you have to set strict schedules for both you and your family members when you’re working from home, otherwise your health and strength will suffer.

Thanks to many fitness professionals getting creative at home, there are so many workouts that are now available streaming. And, by the way, you don’t actually need a well-equipped home gym if you get creative with items already in your house (check out EXOS’ Instagram for ideas). So, make sure you schedule a workout every day. Even just 20 to 30 minutes is better than nothing.

Equally as important is making sure you build breaks into your day to get outside for some fresh air. Unlike being in an office environment where you’re constantly getting up to walk to offices or conference rooms, when working from home you can easily find that you’ve been sitting at the same desk for eight hours without a break. Make the effort to take as many meetings as possible as a walking phone call instead of a Zoom call. Just getting up and moving around will do so much for your physical and mental well-being.

You have to set strict schedules for both you and your family members when you’re working from home, otherwise your health and strength will suffer. 

Take time to connect.

Physical distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. It’s not ideal to be stuck in our homes unable to go out with friends and family. But this is also a brilliant opportunity to use the extra time we now have (no more commuting for one) to reconnect with people from all areas of our lives that we've been too busy to get to. The single biggest positive outcome of COVID-19 for me has been realizing that in the last couple of decades we’ve become “humans doing instead of human beings.”

In this time at home, I’ve enjoyed Google hangouts with my siblings and my closest girlfriends in different time zones all over the world as well as impromptu phone calls with teammates. Just taking the time to hear a voice and see a person helps to relieve the pressure and share a bit of levity.

Make home-schooling a team effort.

I got some awesome advice last week from my great friend who years ago home-schooled his kids through their high school years. He reminded me that home-schooling is more than just the assignments and math problems. Making sure your kids “clean the school” and take on more chores to help the family unit can also be part of the curriculum. And in this time of being at home together for hours on end, movie night can be a chance to discover films that teach us about the world around us. Not to mention game nights to remind Gen Z that life without screens is a lot of fun!

None of us really know how long this situation is going to last and what the world is going to look like when we finally have this virus under control. The only way to deal with uncertainty is to choose how to react to the circumstances around you. I was reminded by a podcast this weekend that many of our grandparents came from the generation that went to war for years on end. They had no choice but to pull together for the greater good, and we can thank our very existence for the fact that they did.

So lastly, remember that helping others in need does wonders for our own health and well-being – even if it’s the simple act of staying home. What are you doing to stay happy, healthy, and productive?

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Sarah Robb O'Hagan

Sarah Robb O'Hagan is the CEO of EXOS and the author of "Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat."

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