Tips for Working, and Learning at Home During COVID-19

Contributing Writer

Working from home can come with two extremes.

Either you’re excited that you technically don’t have to get out of your pajama bottoms or you’re completely overwhelmed with working and trying to home-school and feed your kids at the same time. Unfortunately, if you’re the leader of a startup education company, neither scenario is particularly helpful for work or learning. Sorry, slippers! 

First and foremost, it’s important to forgive ourselves, our family, and our colleagues. We’re all going through an extreme time with health and financial disasters. Difficult emotions are inevitable and it can be challenging to compartmentalize everything that’s going on. Before we can be students, educators, or colleagues, we have to take care of ourselves and process what we’re feeling. 

Identifying what we’re feeling and how it’s showing up allows us to focus on what we can control in order to navigate each day. As we search for a new normal, our old routines and lives have been turned upside down. We need to find new rituals that start with self care and leave moments for creativity and reflection.

If we can give ourselves this key time and space throughout the day, we can be present for the people who depend on us and focus on what we need to do for work and for school.

All good routines start with a healthy sleep schedule, but it’s the times before going to bed and after you wake up that are really critical. Setting up a nightly routine that allows you to wind down and relax sets the tone for a good night’s sleep.

My favorite night time rituals are meditating, sharing three highlights of our days and what we’re grateful for with my husband, and reading a non-work-related book. 

And when you wake up, you guessed it, get out of your pajamas! Whether you’re exercising or heading straight to the shower, it’s good to remind your body that the day is officially starting. If you’re tired of doing the laundry, it’s a great time to divide up responsibilities around the house. Other morning rituals that help us get started include writing Artist Way Morning Pages and expressing gratitude towards someone we love.

Leave the Guesswork Out

Once you’ve started the day, it’s good to make a plan. Especially when we don’t know how radically different each day might be from the next, it helps to take time each morning to set some priorities. Start with when you’d like to take a break, when you need to prioritize family, some social time and some time to yourself. Another great morning tip: Try to tackle the most difficult part of our day first to get it done and out of the way.

Once you’ve built in this time, you’ll know exactly when you’ll need to focus most. That will also allow you to delegate and share responsibilities, both at work and at home. Remember to proactively communicate and set expectations. More than ever, we can’t rely on anyone to guess what we’re thinking or intuitively respond to requests or messages like they did before the pandemic. 

Almost everyone has taken on new roles as we adjust to what’s now considered normal. While it presents obvious challenges and difficulties, without the rush of commuting or weighing social engagements we have time to find routines that will not only help us survive this pandemic, but help us feel more resilient in the future. 

There are plenty of opportunities to be creative by learning new skills or exploring our hidden talents, like playing an instrument or drawing. Creative, healthy expression of our emotions is an essential piece of learning and working. It’s almost impossible to be an effective student or employee if you’re preoccupied with stress or anxiety — both of which are extremely common right now.

Channeling that energy into something that helps you grow will allow your mind to focus on other things as well. 

There are also opportunities to support our communities like never before. We can help our neighbors buy groceries or talk to family we haven’t called in far too long. Through these acts, we are reconnecting with our sense of self and place, a feeling many people have lost over the years, let alone during the pandemic.

Although we aren’t able to connect with each other in person, making the extra effort to communicate with or support the people surrounding us reinforces the fact that we are all in this together. 

Sara Potler LaHayne (@sara_lahayne) is Founder and CEO of Move This World, a social-emotional learning program supporting students.

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2 thoughts on “Tips for Working, and Learning at Home During COVID-19

  1. For example, you may want to create sexual boundaries (being sexually exclusive) and social boundaries (having one night a week designated for friends or activities)

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