Many of us have just concluded week thirteen of working from home due to the global health crisis caused by COVID-19. I’m starting to look back on “things I’ve done” during this period of time as points of reference for how much time really has gone by. I sincerely hope you and your families are doing well, you’ve settled in to whatever situation you are in and are finding a sense of normal in all of this.

Going back about six months ago, when a colleague of mine was working from home they would set a status in our messenger app “Working from home”, to let anyone know who was trying to reach them that they were in fact not going to be working from the office that day. That definition of working from home used to be temporary and something most in our office did in a pinch or if personal schedules required it. Working from home on a consistent basis with no end in sight has certainly taken some adjusting to and a lot of help from some of my closest friends, who I also call my colleagues. The easiest way I can describe this time in our lives is that a lot has changed and will continue to change, but a lot can also stay the same and keep us grounded through the duration.

All of us have adjusted to a different schedule in many areas of our lives. If you’re like me, you’re waking up earlier and starting your day with a few hours of solid productivity. Some days this is necessary as the day ends earlier with a firm wide phone call and the ensuing happy hour. Finding the time to carve out for exercise is also challenging for me with no access to a gym and limited at home equipment. I’ve turned to fitness challenges, and unfortunately losing every week to one of my best friends in our office Fitbit steps challenge.

Aside from when we work, how we work has changed drastically as well. The walk across the office to speak with someone has now turned into a video call. Often the walk back across the office that led to you running into someone and having a conversation that needed to happen but wasn’t actually planned; those have also now turned into video calls. With numerous video calls a day, trainings and department meetings, the time to be able to complete the tangible work has been broken up into pieces.

Keep moving forward

With so many things changing, I felt myself in the beginning of this time moving through each week like a world traveler who didn’t really know where he wanted to end up. I knew what tasks I needed to complete, I knew what was due when, but the path for completing those things was a little less clear with so much indecision and uncertainty surrounding every day. I made a few decisions to help myself figure out “where I wanted to end up”.

First, I decided that just because we are stuck working from home doesn’t mean we can’t focus on our own personal development. Reading and listening to podcasts has been my go to when the proverbial tank is running on “E”. What kept me from doing this in the first place was the thought of sitting still after I was doing that all day working. Thanks to technology, I’ve substituted the music on my walks for podcasts. It really is amazing how the next podcast I listen to coincidentally gives me a lesson I didn’t know I needed about a situation I needed to work through.

In addition, I’ve tried to take twenty to thirty minutes each day to organize what it is I need to finish that day. It’s always been something I have tried to do, but I’ve taken it to another level as working from home as continued. As I mentioned, the days do get broken up and remembering where you were and what you need to do next can get jumbled if you don’t have a list. Lists are also proven to help keep you motivated because as you cross something off, you’re driven to cross the next item off.

Ultimately these are just two ways I’ve tried to keep myself focused on similar things to what was successful for me before Covid-19. Try picking out a few things you can recall yourself doing when you felt at your best to keep consistently moving forward. Without a doubt, we miss the people we work with in ways we didn’t really know were possible. Don’t hesitate to just send someone an email saying, “Hi, I’m thinking of you.” Don’t hesitate to let the person you are working with know how much you appreciate their help. It all goes a long way towards lifting someone else up, you’ll even be a little happier too!