Working just feels different during the time of the Coronavirus.
You call a coworker to discuss a work issue, and there is a conspiratorial feeling, like the two of you were hiding from the world and somehow found each other. Every conversation starts with a discussion of flu-related questions, like . . .
· “How much toilet paper do you have, and have you been stocking up?”
· “Are your kids’ schools doing anything differently ?”
· “Are there empty shelves in your supermarket?”
· “What are you doing for milk?”
· “Have your vacation plans changed ... are you still going to Borneo?”
· “Is all this virus stuff going to mess up your June wedding?”
Getting Things Done in the Time of the Virus
In light of these changes and doubts, how do you feel about working right now? Are you finding it harder to focus and get your work done, cooperate with your colleagues, communicate with customers and clients, and just generally manage your job?
Here are some suggestions for keeping your work on track, even in a time when things feel strained, unfamiliar, uncomfortable . . . or maybe simply different . . . from the way they were a few weeks ago.
Working from Home . . .
If you work this way, you have already mastered skills that let you get things done without being in contact with too many other people during a typical workday. Even though you have those skills under your belt, it might be a good idea to think about them with a little more focus during the current, strange work climate . . .
· Limit social time and chatting. Remember, the mail carrier, the Amazon delivery guy or woman, and the meter-reader are not necessarily your best friends. Even if you’re home alone and hungry for human contact, resist the temptation to engage in long, time-draining personal conversations with every person you encounter during the day. If you are starved for company, take a break at a time that won’t interfere with your work goals, call your best friend, and connect there.
· Set timed goals for the day. You’ll bash out that budget by noon, for example, or write that marketing plan by 2:00. In other words, set a schedule for the day instead of just letting stuff happen.
· Work in a dedicated work space. You will get more done if you dedicate a desk to your job, not just push the cereal bowl aside and work at your kitchen table.
· Make distractions taboo. You can decide, for example, that you will never, ever turn on the TV between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. Or that you will never goof around online during work hours, or that you will only check your personal email once an hour. Yes, you really can do those things . . . and if you want to be productive, you should.
· Invest in decent Wi-Fi. It’s your lifeblood to the outside world, so don’t skimp. We know one independent contractor who loses minutes and minutes every day because he insists on using only his phone’s personal hotspot for Internet access. We don’t believe he is actually saving any money by doing that, but he’s stuck in a time-wasting pattern he has fallen into.
· Present a professional face to the outside world. If you spend time every day on Zoom or Skype calls, remember that people can see your dead plants, empty coffee cups, snoring cat, and anything else that’s behind you. So clean up your background or, better yet, get a green screen and pick an appealing background image. Note that Zoom, for example,allows users to display background images of their choice. So does Skype. It’s a little trouble, but it’s worth it.
· Get dressed! Even if you are working at home for the day and chances are nobody on the outside will ever see you, try to dress in pretty much the same way you would if you were going to an office or to a shared coworking space. Even if people can’t really see you when you are talking to them on the phone or in a video call, they will sense you are a professional who is working in a professional way, and that will make a difference.
Special Tips for Feeling Great Despite the Doom and Gloom
You’re not actually suffering from the Coronavirus, are you? We hope not. You can promote good health for everyone by . . .
· Washing your hands often through the day and also at specific times like when you come in from outside, after you have used the restroom, and after you have accepted an order of food from a delivery person at the door.
· Staying hydrated through the course of the day.
· Refusing to sneeze or blow your nose anywhere other people can see you. Just get up, head to the washroom, and do your wheezing and blowing in there. It’s the considerate thing to do, even if you are in perfect health. You expect that level of consideration from others and they expect it from you.
We’re All Going to Get Through This Together
Our lives are going to return to normal. The mood of people in public places will recover. Somehow, we will get our work done without falling behind on anything.
But these are times that will test us a bit anyway.
All of us at KettleSpace wish you the best as these dark days brighten and we all get back to a new and happy normal.