You might not have noticed it, but the infamous year of 2020 is about to close its curtains. You might be feeling uncertain for the coming year or just being grateful for having survived months of isolation and home quarantines. Still, we should revisit the simplest things before even starting the new year. I am talking about work. Yes, the office that you spend more than eight hours of your day has been occupying your time for a third of the 24 hours. We are lucky if the only adjustment we have been making is our work location, but for some of us, that isn’t the case, like for health workers or most of those in the service industry. There are also thousands, if not millions, of people who lost their job because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Luckily, you have survived and are reading this article now. Who knows when this will all end? Hopefully, the soonest. But until then, let’s try to improve on ourselves and celebrate small victories, even if it’s about enhancing your work from home routine and work environment. So, without further ado, I listed down seven new year’s work resolutions to survive in 2021.
1 – Stick to Your Work Routine Pre-pandemic
You have probably developed your new work routine by now, and by this time, you would have also been admitting to the fact that it’s harder to stick to your work assignments when you want to clean the toilet, weed the garden, or just even spend quality time with your pets. I get it. There is too much distraction at home, but I can also attest that my productivity increased because I am in a more comfortable space working within my private property's confinement. Each of us had our struggles when more and more employers have allowed their employees to work from home, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t overcome them. What made the unfamiliar work setup easier for me is when I went back to my routine when the pandemic hadn’t started yet. Because I usually take my morning break at 10 AM, I began doing that at home. If you take lunch by 12 NN, by all means, do so even if you are not hungry or would like to finish that report first. Sticking to the same routine and mimicking the same movements that you are used to makes the adjustment easier for our brain. Remember, you didn’t switch jobs; you just changed work locations.
2 – Continue Improving Your Skills
It might be hard to fix your routine at home, but it will be more challenging if you feel burnt out because you are stagnant. Learning a new work skill or just merely improving the ones you already have would provide you with a comparative advantage from your colleagues even at a time of remote work. Sign-in and participate in online training or seminars that your company is providing. It might not be the face-to-face interaction you would have preferred, but most trainers have adapted to the new setup and have been doing their best to make online sessions interactive to the participants. If you couldn’t find suitable training for you from your company, try looking for one on the internet. Online courses have seen an increase in interest from people due to the pandemic. By the time you are ready to go back to the office, you would have survived the pandemic and gained a new skill. Learning is fun, and it stimulates our brains to focus on improving themselves rather than just thinking about depressing situations.
3 – Stay Mobile
Our mobility significantly decreased due to social distancing and directives from our government to avoid crowded public spaces. Even with these restrictions, it doesn’t give us an excuse to live a sedentary lifestyle. More important than ever, we need to keep ourselves healthy, and one means to do that is by moving our muscles and keeping them in an active state. Your choices may be limited but just be creative and extremely careful then you will figure out the best way to do this. If you have a big lawn, this is the best time to explore your home. When we used to stay in the office, we barely had time to do this. Thought of a house project that you’ve been procrastinating to do before? This pandemic period might be a good time to start it. Moving is not just for your body but can also be a mental exercise. Those little walks around your property perimeter can be a substitute for the flight of stairs in the office building that you have been missing. If you don’t have that extra space of land to walk on in your property, then a simple stroll around the neighborhood will not hurt either. Just remember to wear your mask and practice social distancing.
4 – Connect with Your Colleagues
Not seeing your office mates for months can be a curse and a blessing. You won’t see the annoying Mr. Robertson who keeps on complaining about the office photocopy machine. Still, you also won’t see your lunch buddy Linda whom you have shared multiple life stories on several occasions. We human beings are social creatures. It varies among personality types, but no man is an island. If physical interaction is put on hold right now, try to make up for it by opening your camera more during online meetings. Also, just letting your colleagues hear your voice during an online meeting already makes a lot of difference. If privacy is your issue, video conferencing apps offer virtual background options, which are also easily customizable and fun to use. One day I’m in an alfresco dining location in Paris, and the next day I was in outer space. Choose the proper background depending on the formality and audience for that meeting. Remember, you are still part of an organization, and a body can only function well if it knows its features. Communicating now should be emphasized more than ever since you don’t see each other every day, unlike before. Even if it’s just a small pep talk or an announcement of a completed project, let them know. People are more appreciative now due to the heightened need for support and connection, most especially from officemates and team members you have known for years.
5 – Take Advantage of Your WFH Perks
I am guilty of this as I have been cooking more often than before. If you are passionate about something and haven’t had the time for it, then now is the best time to level that out-of-tune guitar or open that dusty oven that you haven’t used in years. I keep the mindset of working to live and not living to work. As the work from the home status of employees is more prevalent than ever, it is about time to focus on the living and not just the working. Even if you enjoy these perks, never call in sick for a meeting just because you’ve been trying to perfect your butter tart cheesecake the whole morning. You may still be entitled to sick leaves, but it’s also good to save them for the rainy days. Plus, it sounds utterly irresponsible. Even if you work on your PJ’s at home, it’s just right to maintain a bit of professionalism, especially during those company-paid hours.
6 – Keep a Positive Outlook in Life
Someone you know may have contracted the virus. Someone in your neighborhood may have even succumbed to the disease. The global economy is not being its best, and recovery might take longer than usual. You’ve missed out on that vacation trip that you’ve been saving up for years. I know there are lots of reasons to be depressed and be your lowest at this time. However, the whole world is suffering, not only you. Someone on the other side of the world may have even lost their job due to recession. The pandemic is a time to reflect and be grateful for the little things you have and remove your attention from what you should have gained if this virus didn’t come into our lives. Having a positive outlook makes you function better. It is easier to get by, and there will be a silver lining at the end of it all. Remember always to stay negative of the virus but positive in your thoughts and actions.
7 – Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are only as productive as you allow yourself to be. You cannot be a WFH expert overnight or even in a few months. Use the resolution on this list if it suits you and if not, then simply make your own. There are no rules here, just as long as your goal is the same – to increase productivity and help you adjust to the new work environment that we currently have. Hopefully, when the pandemic ends in 2021, you would have learned a lot, not just about your work but also about yourself. Once we go back to our office cubicles, let us remember all the lessons and experiences we have learned during these extraordinary times.
May the coming year bring us new hope.
Bye for now. I smell something burning in the oven!
Stay Home, Stay Safe!