How To Stay Productive in Times of Social Distancing

I once read that we don’t see the world as it is, but as we are. Who can argue with that? We see the world through our individual lens, a lens made out of personal experiences, current circumstances, self-image, and self-confidence (or lack thereof.)

Asked to work from home? Don't let it affect your productivity!

A few weeks ago, our lives were altered with the unwelcome presence of Covid-19 (AKA Coronavirus) in the US. More recently, a declaration of national emergency put more stress on our lives as the consequences of the virus hit closer to home. Even though a state of emergency is in no way a restriction on free movement, authorities asked us to practice social distancing. Social distancing means that swaths of workers are working from home, schools are closing indefinitely, and social gatherings are limited or canceled altogether. So, how do we stay productive amid times of social spacing?

Working from home can be challenging if you don't have the right set-up and the right mindset. People who lack self-discipline and personal accountability will find it more difficult to adapt to the new situation. Longstanding habits and routines need to be adjusted quickly, and that may be disconcerting for some. However, there are a few things you can do to make to make this whole situation less distressing.

First, no matter our situation, we ALL need to follow this:

  • CDC, WHO, and local authorities' recommendations to stay safe and keep others safe.

  • Keep calm; there is no reason to panic.

  • Stop panic-buying toilet paper! No need to hoard on anything.

  • Practice social spacing. It's not a suggestion; DO IT!

  • Stay positive and focus on the things you can still do. (Hint: many!)

If you are working from home, there're a few recommendations to make the most of a challenging situation. Here are a few ideas to maintain your productivity:

  • Even if a tad more relaxed, your work schedule should remain as close to normal as possible.

  • Change out of your pajamas! Wearing sweatpants and old t-shirts will send the wrong signal to your brain and make you feel less motivated to work and more inclined to watch TV or snuggle with a book. Dress the part!

  • Maintain your usual morning routine, whatever it is. There’s no better way to keep a work mindset than doing what you usually do before heading to work. Maintain your same work routine during the day too.

  • Make it a house rule to minimize interruptions during work hours. The fact that you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re available to take your bored friend’s phone calls or listen to your spouse's ideas on possible summer plans. Make it clear that you’re busy.

  • Silence your phone and keep it screen down. When a large number of people worldwide are bored, chat groups and social media platforms burst with comments, funny videos, and memes related to the topic du jour. Every time you check your phone, you’ll end up wasting a ton of time. On top of that, it takes as much as 10 minutes to regain your focus.

Since you're not commuting to work, you'll gain a couple of hours each day; that's a gift, use it wisely! Once your work duties are over for the day, invest your time in productive activities. You’ll regret having this time available and not having taken advantage of it to reset or cross off a few items from your to-do list. This new normal is alien to all of us. Some of us are feeling bored, anxious, and will chose to just kill time. Others with a more positive outlook, will see this as an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, revise and reset their personal goals, plan future vacations, etc. Who are you?

Here a few productive things you can do:

  • Any home project that’s been in your to-do list for weeks.

  • Take an online course or watch instructional videos on YouTube.

  • Read for pleasure and to learn something new. What about those books that have been on your shelf since last year?

  • FaceTime with friends you haven’t seen or talked to in ages.

  • Organize your closet, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, pantry, file cabinets.

  • Rearrange furniture around your house. Try new fun layouts.

  • Look for and apply for volunteer opportunities for when this pandemic is over -hopefully soon!

  • Take time to reflect, write (expressive writing is beneficial to release stress) and reset.

  • Try new meal recipes.

  • Lubricate that door hinge that squeaks every time you open and close it.

  • Shine your shoes.

  • Identify and bag items (clothing, food, household items, etc.) for donation. I guess that with so many people out of work for days, donation centers will need to be restocked fast.

  • Explore new blogs about subjects you’re interested in and follow them.

  • Enjoy longer well-deserved self-care time.

  • Send hand-written notes to people you love.

  • Revise and update your personal goals.

  • Slow down your usual pace. Remember: there is no place else you need to be now.

  • Limit your news intake. Watching stressful news all day long is not the best use of your time.

What for some is an annoying situation, for others is an opportunity to learn, deepen connections, do good, and create new family traditions and memories. It all comes down to killing time versus being proactive and productive. It all comes down to the lens you use to handle this social distancing or lockdown -if we get to that.

Stop panic-buying!

So, do the right thing and stay safe. Remember:

  • Wash your hands frequently.

  • Don't panic or panic-buy anything.

  • Practice positive thinking. This, too, shall pass!

  • Acknowledge all the positives in your life and be grateful.

It's time to stand up for each other, be unselfish and keep the most vulnerable population safe. It's time to unite in a common goal: defeating a world pandemic that has already killed way too many human beings.

What about you? Are you good at adapting to challenging situations? How do you plan to invest your time in the next two weeks? I hope you could share your ideas with other readers. Like and share this post now!

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