And just like that, all our childhood punishments became a grown-up reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to stay indoors, avoid social gatherings, keep off the roads and either work from home, or stop working indefinitely.

In these uncertain times, we’ve all needed to become more intuitive, creative and connected than ever before.

Three of our incredible MTF contributors have shared their tips for making it through this period whilst keeping work, family and our emotional well-being in good shape.

 

Amilinda “The Little Hedonist” Wilkinson
I’m one of the (un)lucky ones who can work from home. I’ve set up a home desk space with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, connected my printer and scanner, and made space for all my files. I laid out my pens neatly next to my notebook and set up my laptop and conference call apps. Yet, even with the best of intentions, I’m struggling to be as productive as I would at the office.

With all the uncertainty, housework and other distractions that come with working from home (like overly demanding fur children, doing washing and all those naps/Netflix that you need to catch up on), I’ve somewhat productively come up with some tips for keeping you focused and healthy whilst you work from home.

 

Eat

I know this sounds somewhat counter-intuitive, but it is important that you eat regular and balanced meals. Nourishing your body with mood-boosting ingredients will keep you mentally sharp, energetically pro-active and wholesomely happy during these stressful times. Add a sprinkle of chia seeds to your smoothie, have poached eggs for brekkie or snack on a handful of Brazil nuts or bananas between virtual meetings. Try to avoid starchy meals for lunch, and rather opt for a crisp chicken salad to curb the carb-slump.

 

Schedule meetings

No, not with your colleagues, but with yourself. Check in with yourself at least once during your workday to see how you are doing and if you’re keeping to your deadlines. Take time to assess your progress and do a mental stock-take of what you need to do to achieve your work goals. It’s important to hold yourself accountable, especially when you are working from home where the direct reporting line is absent.

 

Dress up

When you look good, you feel good. This “changing from day-time pajamas to night-time pajamas” mindset is the absolute archenemy of productivity. Get up when your alarm goes off, shower, get dressed (yes, that includes pants!) and brush your hair. Put on your favourite perfume and prepare for the day as if you were going into the office. As soon as you slump on the couch in yesterday’s yoga pants with your laptop balanced on your knees, your concentration will take a serious dip, as well as your self-esteem.

 

Take breaks

At the office we’d have regular chats, meetings, kitchen conversations and pow-wow’s in the passage with colleagues, which allow your brain a well-deserved change of scenery as it processes all the activities of the day. When working from home, make sure to take little 15-minute breaks every few hours, even if you just lap the garden and catch some Vitamin D. Do a few quick stretches, read a chapter of your favourite book or refill your water bottle. It’s very easy to get stuck at your desk without a break when you are working in isolation, which will lead not only to fatigue and sluggish outputs, but also to low morale and drive.

 

Don’t self-isolate

Physically, yes please, self-isolate as far as possible! Mentally, however, be careful of finding yourself stuck in your own head without any human interaction for days and weeks on end. We are wired as social beings and rely heavily on communication with others to feel connected, valued and loved. Substituting social interaction with extended work hours is not a great idea. Stick to your usual office hours and make time after work to check in with loved ones and friends via Whatsapp, Zoom, Skype or any of the available apps. You’ll be surprised how energising a quick virtual check-in with a friend can be.

 

Jared “Jared in CPT” Ruttenberg
I realised quickly that if I didn’t set myself any form of schedule I would be in trouble. So I sat and worked out a little social shutdown schedule that would guide my social content over the period.

This is what I’ll be getting up to:

Motivation Mondays – sharing quotes, or meaningful content that has helped me navigate this period.

Travel Tuesdays – looking at both past and further travel destinations to fuel that wanderlust.

Wine Wednesdays – celebrating some of the local wine estates and sharing their wines.

Throwback Thursdays – reflecting back on some of the near 100 travel reviews that I’ve done over the years.

Foodie Fridays – trying out new recipes, or online food delivery services.

Story Saturdays – with a literary focus, sharing some of the books I’m reading.

Showcase Sundays – sharing interesting stories that I’ve come across.

I’d encourage others to also look at some form of structure that will provide continuity but that also leaves room for growth, creativity and expression.

 

Janice “Glitter & Toast” Leibowitz
There are 5 of us in our home on lockdown together! The things I plan on doing, some of which I will attempt to get the rest of the household to join me on are.

Definitely reading – for pleasure, not only for review purposes.

A Facebook Friend cull – seriously, I have no clue who some of those people even are.

Getting rid of clutter – definitely a team thing. Far too much accumulated stuff in our house!

Each of us has found various options for online tours, shows and classes that we’re interested in.

For book lovers.

Museum tours.

Various courses.

There are literally hundreds of sites offering free courses online at the moment, so just Google what you’re looking for.

The National Theatre Productions.

As for those people looking for online exercise options … well there are so many to choose from that just sifting through all of them is a workout in itself! There are literally thousands available on whichever platform you’d find most suitable: Instagram, YouTube, or you could download one of the many apps. The key here is to choose one that suits you, and stick to it. Don’t drive yourself mad with all the choices. You know what will work for you, and often your own gym or personal trainer might be offering their own virtual option, so it’s a good idea to find out from them if they’re doing something like this before you bamboozle your brain and body by looking at everything else that’s on offer!

Some days will seem like an eternity and others will seem like they’ve flown by. But at the end of it all, when we return to a very different world, I think that we will all have grown in our love for each other and in our appreciation for all that we have and for all that we share.

 

These are unprecedented times, and we are all grasping to hold onto some sort of normality. For some of us, “normality” takes the shape of continuing to work from home where possible. This does allow some comforting routine and structure to your day, if those things are soothing to you. However you choose to approach this #LockDown period, make sure to take care of yourself both physically and mentally, and to throw kindness around like confetti. Right now, the world surely needs a bit more compassion, and a bit less day-time pajamas.

The best tip of all is to follow Amilinda, Jared and Janice to see more of what they are creating and sharing for the remainder of these 21 days.