Tag Archives: cabin fever

Tips On Working Effectively From Home

This is a difficult time for some – and merely a different time for others.

What makes the difference? Mostly attitude.

You can decide to be uncomfortable or you can use this as an opportunity to catch up on things you don’t ordinarily find time to do.

Of course, it’s so much easier for those who have experience working from home, and I don’t mean to minimize the difficulties facing people who are not accustomed to that. I suspect that Skype and Zoom and other platforms are on overload because so many people who don’t ordinarily need to use them – do so now.

BUT – we are sheltering at home – so here are some ideas as to how to make it work more successfully for you.

Hours worked – Holding Yourself Accountable

There are those who will tell you to shower and dress as though you were going to the office – and to keep regular business hours.

That may work for some – but may be totally unnecessary for others. Don’t get caught up in following someone else’s rules – but figure out what works best for you.

As I write this, I’m in an “at home” long dress with no makeup. My hair is pulled back. You probably don’t want to see me right now – it is certainly not my best look.

Some people need fixed structure. If you are one of those people – decide what hours you are going to work – and what you can wear that is comfortable but makes you feel as though you have dressed for work.

Have a special place from which you are working. This might not be the living room couch.

For those of you that are self-motivated and don’t require the external structure – be comfortable, no one is looking. Wear just enough to be safe if someone comes to the front door. Oh, if you are online visually wear a little more clothing!

Instead of setting “office hours” set deadlines – when do you have to have certain projects finished? Can you select “sprints” so that you know when you have accomplished a portion of what you need to accomplish?

Let me give you one example of what I mean: When conducting a one hour webinar, I keep a list besides me of how many power points I have to complete in 15 minute intervals. In that way, I stay on time and am not rushing to finish during the last ten minutes or so.

When writing, I think of concepts – or chapters if you will. I learned many years ago not to be looking at the whole project or I will frighten myself.

I’m also really wed to “to do” lists that are prioritized. I usually scribble notes from the living room where I am watching TV, or in the bedroom before I fall asleep. Those notes get transferred to a formal “to do” list when I sit down at my desk the next day.

I prioritize them – and get them done. Some don’t get done because sometimes it is a long list and unimportant items (like filing) fall to the wayside.

BUT – that’s me. What works for you?

  • Fixed time of day
  • Fixed location
  • Accountable to someone else
  • Dress for work
  • To do lists
  • Freedom to choose whatever time suits
  • Casual comfortable clothes
  • Laptop on the patio
  • Fixed amount of work per hour
  • Project by project.

 

Family Members at Home

Some of us are all alone. That makes it easier to work without interruption, but for some a sense of sensory deprivation – some people are afraid to be alone for any length of time.

For others, there are family members around and it is tempting to interact with them rather than get any work done….It’s a special treat to have our loved ones nearby during the day – but we have to get work done.

Also, if we have young kids, it’s hard for them to understand that you are home – but you are at work as well. So you have to find ways to make it clear to them so that you minimize the interruptions.

Let me tell you a story from many years ago. I was step-mother to two young children. At the time I am going to describe, I was working on a term paper that was due that Monday. The children were with us that weekend and they were 8 and 5 years old. I was working out of my second bedroom where I had a desk. I’d asked the kids to leave me alone because I was working on a deadline. They could interrupt me only if it was important.

Well, as you can imagine, important to me was quite different from important to 5 year old Laura. Every few minutes she came knocking on the door. Finally, I sat her down and asked: “Laura, do you have to write a book report for class?”

“Yes” she replied. I asked her how long it needed to be and she explained one page – in her big print – she was just learning to print. I explained that mine had to be 20 pages typed.

Oh, she said with big eyes – left the room and didn’t interrupt me for the rest of the day.

So, my message is: Find a way to explain to your kids with examples and in words that they can understand. Remember, this is a different experience for them as well.

Cabin Fever?

For those of you at home alone – here are some things you can do to make yourself feel better:

  • Open a window – or a patio door – and get some fresh air
  • Watch more TV than you usually do
  • Call a friend – telephones still work
  • Skype or Zoom or something
  • See what kind of special meal you can create from the items in your freezer and pantry
  • Give yourself that facial you’ve been meaning to do for months now
  • Read a good book – that always works for me
  • Write in your journal – or start a journal
  • Write an article
  • Start to write the memoir you have been dreaming about writing
  • Clean out the closet and your dresser drawers
    – Stuff to keep for the coming season
    – Stuff to bring to the garage for next year
    – Stuff to sell to a second hand store (there are many)
    – Stuff to give to someone in need
    – Stuff to give to Goodwill – Salvation Army, etc.
    – Stuff to just plain throw away
    – Catch up on your filing

I bet if you looked around you could find many things to do at home that are fun and useful. Intersperse those with the work you have to do.

This too shall pass. Don’t let it get you down – you have the resources to make it merely a different time – but not all that difficult.

ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D. is a consultant specializing in people and processes in the workplace and can be reached at ArLyne@DiamondAssociates.net

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

 

Survive COVID-19 with a Cabin Fever Playbook

What seemed improbable a month ago is today a shared global reality. The steady unravelling of COVID-19 has forced us all – across generations and geographies, to stay home. Morale is low and stress levels are high as we work from home, grieve for and worry about those afflicted, homeschool our children, and struggle to make ends meet in a crumbling economy.

While challenges of confinement and the lack of routine have pushed me out of my comfort zone, strangely, this period has also been a deeply introspective one. I have had teaching moments that have helped me prioritize and gain perspective to effectively navigate these difficult and fluid times.

LEARNING TO ROLL WITH AMBIGUITY
The steepest learning curve for me has been accepting unpredictability and rolling with it. I find myself:

  • Improvising. For example, when I couldn’t find any sanitizers anywhere, I was forced to make my own. My favorite recipe is mixing ¼ tsp of bleach with 4 cups of water.
    When getting my daily yoga stretches seemed impossible, I resorted to CosmicKids Yoga. Now, I get a yoga workout with my preschooler in tow since it engages kids through story and movement.
  • Getting creative. I buy whatever fresh produce is readily and easily available and turn to the internet for inspiration. I’ve dug out my formally forgotten cookbooks and am trying my hand at new recipes.
  • Relaxing standards. With everyone homebound, there’s more mess, less tidiness and meals are often prepared on the fly. But that’s to be expected. Once this realization struck, I recalibrated and lowered standards. This helped me stay calm and centered. Beds don’t always get made, but the sheets are clean. Meals may be prepared on the fly, but they’re healthy. I learned not to sweat it. There’s enough to worry about as is.


STAYING ORGANIZED

I am by no means a planner. But, when I saw the panic around me at our local grocery store, I was jolted into action:

  • To create a weekly meal roster to plan grocery runs.
  • I stocked up on non-perishables. Fortunately, being accustomed to eating and cooking Indian food, between atta (whole wheat), rice, Sabudana (tapioca), pasta, flour, sooji (semolina), besan (chickpea flour), poha (flattened rice), bread, and a few packs of frozen rotis and naans, I had an array of grain options. My new favorite comfort food now is a simple and wholesome Sabudana khichri.
  • To bolster our supply of vitamins, ginger tea, and citrus fruits to keep up our immunity.


COMMUNICATING

At a time when schedules are unpredictable with no school and everyone working from home, things don’t always fall in place as seamlessly as they used to. As a result, I found it vital to effectively communicate household rules and expectations.

  • We have a written daily routine and each person is assigned household chores and responsibilities. That way everyone’s on the same page and knows when and how to chip in. This has provided the much-needed predictability in times of uncertainty and has also fostered teamwork.
  • I am also making the most of this opportunity to double down on conversing in my native language (Hindi) with my preschooler and second grader. I can already see some promising results.

MAKING TIME FOR LITTLE THINGS
I find myself making more time for family. A relatively slower pace of life is allowing more time to connect with each other as well as with extended family and community members. More than before, I see us using FT, Skype and Zoom to connect with each other. Most importantly, I’m enjoying simple activities like:

  • Walking. It is Spring after all! If parks are out of bounds, we take family walks. These aren’t long. Sometimes squeezing in a short walk between meetings or a break is good enough. It’s refreshing to marvel at blooming flowers and seek joy in the many signs of new life and activity around us.
  • Playing. We make up silly games, play board games, word games, card games, Simon says, red light-green light, do messy art projects; all of which fuel our creativity and bring us closer as a family.
  • Baking. Instead of composting that overripe banana, we make banana bread. We roll dough and cut out shapes when we make atta ladoos and atta cookies respectively.


LAUGHING

For some time, I had replaced humor with fear, anxiety and stress. One day, my eight-year-old asked me, “Why do graveyards have a fence around them?” Looking at my confused expression, he promptly replied, “Because people are dying to get in!” With all the dread unfolding, it felt like a scene from a dark comedy movie. It lightened the mood and we all had a good laugh.

I realized that it’s ok to laugh even in the face of adversity. Given our current reality, it’s easy to forget to let some humor into our lives. Besides, doesn’t laughter reduce stress-generated cortisol that kills our immune system? So, why not laugh, boost our immunity and flatten the curve!

To get in some laughs every day:

  • I have intentionally added joke books to our children’s daily reading stack. Kids love jokes and rarely miss an opportunity to share something that tickles them.
  • In the evening, my husband and I carve out some time to watch something funny. It’s a wonderful way to relax, connect and laugh together as adults.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a trying time, stretching our mental and physical capacity to endure fear and uncertainty. Yet, it’s heartening to see folks reach out to provide services like grocery runs or offer free in-home entertainment materials like family games, books and DVDs. We’re connecting with family, friends and our extended community, to make sure we’re all okay. Our children are virtually interacting with cousins, grandparents and friends. I’m reminded of Gilda Radner, who once wisely said – “Life is about…taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

We’re certainly trying our best!

Nidhi Kirpal Jayadevan’s pre-kids’ life was dedicated to the complex field of Communication Sciences. After choosing to be a fulltime mother, reading and playing with her high energy boys has been a fascinating journey. It has (re)kindled in her a sense of wonder in all things small. She constantly sees the world through little eyes, applying simple learnings to deepen life’s meaning for herself and her family.

Edited by Meera Kymal, contributing editor at India Currents

Photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta on Unsplash