For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into our work routines. Suits have been replaced with sweatpants, morning commutes with a short walk from our beds to a makeshift workstation in the kitchen, and coworkers with…kids. The line between work and home has become blurry.
If you’re like me, you may be wondering what your fellow lawyers have been doing to stay productive during these challenging times. So here are a few tips and tricks that some of the WLF Executive have been using while working from home.
I live on my own and have been home for nine weeks at this point. What I have found particularly helpful is waking up at my usual time every weekday morning. I proceed to the shower and get dressed (though not in my typical work clothes, but something I would go out of the house with). I have set up my work computer in my home office and I am sure to be at my desk around the same time that I would if I had been in the office. Given that I no longer have much of a commute I have made time to prepare and eat a good breakfast and check in with my family in the morning before starting my work day. There have been at least two days when things didn't go quite to plan (nothing like a shattered bottle in your kitchen) but this structure has helped me with getting work done and staying productive.
Invest in a good comfortable pair of noise cancelling headphones. I prefer the over-the-ear variety. Take safe walks in your neighbourhood - I take my dog out regularly for her sake and mine- and if you have a backyard, enjoy your green space. Share parenting duties with your spouse if you can and make sure to get in quality cuddles with your kids.
While this is an interesting and challenging time for all of us, I am trying my best right now to focus on using it as a rare "break from the normal", and as an opportunity to refocus not just how I do things, but what I do. For example, now that I don't have to wake up early for a one hour commute each way on the TTC to work, I have instead used that time to get half an hour more sleep in, and then still wake up with enough time to do 20-25 minutes of yoga and get 15 minutes of meditation in before logging into work from home. This was something that I had always aspired to do during "normal" times but never found the time, and I can already feel the positive difference that it is making to my health.
I am rewarding myself for getting work done and being productive in the mornings by cooking super tasty lunches, and making sure to still take a lunch break to create the mental space I need to keep being productive in the afternoon. I am also trying as much as possible to maintain structure in my day: setting goals, to-do lists, and deadlines for myself such that I make sure as much as possible not to carry yesterday's tasks into today's tasks. I have found that being in a calm home environment has actually made it easier to do this.
Above all, I feel happier about my work knowing that I also can focus on other important parts of my life at the end of the workday. In the evenings, I have made sure to spend time with my partner, take time to write in my journal, and re-watch old favourite movies or have drinks with friends over Zoom. I have even registered for free courses through McGill on creative writing and personal finances to complete at my own pace over these next few months. We may all be sequestered in our homes, but truly there is no limit to what we can do with this time if we try!
I found it really hard to stay asleep the first couple of weeks. One day I did yoga for the first time in years and I slept really well. So last week, I started a 30 day yoga “challenge” and I have really felt better mood-wise and with my sleep. Here is the link to Day 1: https://youtu.be/oBu-pQG6sTY.
As for productivity, we have a tiny apartment and my husband has always worked from home, so it is very challenging. Right now, I have cobbled together a “standing desk” workstation in my kitchen, with a laptop stand on my oven and wooden planks over the sink. It looks ridiculous, but it works! I take phone calls in the bedroom with my door closed and I have a system to keep my documents/files confidential.