Getting a Hang of the New “Normal”

Guest post by Mary-Margaret Bennett, Success Support Specialist at Vendasta.

What exactly is “normal”? For each and every one of us, that sense of normality and routine can have a very different definition. But for the average person in Canada, “normal” usually means taking transportation to an office and working from 9-5, grabbing a quick bite from a cafe at noon, and maybe going out for dinner with a friend or colleague on occasion. But times have changed. We have traded in our regular routines for remote work, phone calls, virtual meetings and staying close to home. Within this article I hope to pass along some advice to help get through this strange time, and thrive in this new type of “normal”.

Managing Your New Workspace

You have been encouraged to work from home, something that you may have done on very rare occasions but now things are different, and you might need to make this new arrangement work for an extended period of time. You make sure to grab your favourite mug, your desk plant, and your tech from the office, but you realize your set-up at home just doesn’t cut it and your struggling to focus. But why, everything you had at work is here, but something is missing, and you can’t put your finger on it

Face it, at the office, you spent years moulding your work station to jive with your way of doing things, while home is a familiar place, it is completely foreign to working in, and every small difference can cause distraction. Take the time to make the work station you built work for you, add extra comfort, such as a pillow to your chair, a fuzzy rug and your coziest slippers, you can also include some personal touches as well to give the place life and familiarity. This is YOUR new office, so do what you do best and make it yours!

Structure your Day

Depending on your type of job, you may have more flexibility on how you allocate your time to tasks. Ambiguity can be the killer to productivity when you don’t have your team there to motivate you and collaborate with. During times of struggle, take charge of your productivity and plan out your tasks by making a to-do-list.

Work includes more than just meetings, scheduled tasks and calls, it also includes breaks! Set reminders for yourself to get up and have a quick stretch, grab a snack you prepared the night before, and pour yourself something warm to drink. It could make a world of difference.

Be on Top of Things

Let’s be real, we all put chores to the side and forget about them. Maybe you have a nasty habit of leaving your charging cables on the floor, or you are about to head into a Zoom Meeting and realize your only clean dress shirt is wrinkled.

We don’t really think that these small things could upset our productivity, but in actuality dwelling on the things you should have done and neglected can cause stress, and may knock you off your game. This is especially true when you have to look at your chores every day from your desk.

Just like with your work tasks, create a to-do list of the stuff that needs to be completed during your down-time. Sticking to your commitments and seeing your house day-by-day just a little cleaner will take the edge off so that you can finally focus on what’s important.

Prep Prep & More Prep!

Right now, Canadians are worried about putting food on the table, either because they are concerned about affording it, or shelves are bare at the local super market. Lack of toilet paper aside, you would be surprised what fun stuff you can make from a simple tour of your pantry.

Stock up on inexpensive items that can last a long time, such as lentils, beans, frozen veggies and nuts. Use vegetable scraps to make stock and cook more food than you can eat and freeze it for later.

This is the perfect opportunity to also support your local businesses. A lot of small grocers, farmer’s markets, bakeries and delis are offering the option for pick-up and delivery. If your super market is completely devoid of loaves of bread, eggs or milk, you might be able to find them in these smaller niche businesses, and discover some unique goodies on the way.

Finally, Beat the Blues & Crush Cabin Fever

One of the biggest contributing factors to succeeding at work comes down to how well you are managing taking care of your mental and physical health.

During this time, we are all playing it safe and separating ourselves from physical interactions with friends and family. Cabin fever is be setting in, and with spring weather fast approaching, those beautiful sunny days you see outside your 6th floor apartment window are really starting to make you feel cut off from the rest of the world.

Take this time to search for things you can do from the comfort of your home, such as joining the livefeed of a cooking class, learning a new skill via an online course, or spending your evenings playing games with your loved ones or finally getting to that puzzle you received during the holidays.

Schedule dates with friends and family over video chat each week, to get the ability to see and hear from them again, it often can make the distance between you both feel a little shorter.

And remember, in many places you are still allowed to go outside as long as you are practicing physical and social distancing. Stay active and healthy by taking a jog around your neighbourhood, hike a nearby trail or just hit the yard for some sun bathing and fresh air.

The Take Away

Over the last two weeks of working remotely, I learned a lot about my working habits, what inhibits my productivity, what helps me to thrive, and how I could make adjustments to adapt this new routine. Through building this set routine for myself, ensuring I take breaks, and staying on top of the things that distract me from my focus, I have come away from my fears of unproductively at the home office, and learned how to make this my new “normal”, I hope that some of the knowledge I shared helps you find your groove and start crushing it! You got this!