BY CATHLIN FITZGERALD (PT & DPT)
Over the past few weeks, as we’ve all settled into social distancing and working from home, a lot of people have shared that they have had trouble structuring their days. They’re either working way too much or not a lot at all and are unsure of what to do when.
So first let me start by saying any approach you are taking right now is fine. If doing the basic necessities to get by for the day is all that you can or want to handle, that is perfectly ok. I’m sure many of you are stressed about your health, maybe the security of your job, and a million other things. That takes its toll. There is no rulebook or guideline for this situation. We are all doing the best we can.
Now, for those of you that want structure, I’m going to provide a few ideas. Fortunately, I’ve already had practice with this after I was stuck at home post-op in January and early February. These are some things that worked for me and hopefully, they’ll be able to help some of you.
The number one thing I can recommend is to go to bed “on time”. Maybe that means staying up a bit later because you’ll be sleeping in a little without your commute, but overall try to stick to your schedule. Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health. It can be easy to slip into staying up super late (“it doesn’t matter, I’m not going anywhere tomorrow anyway”), but the best quality of sleep for us humans happens between 8 pm and midnight.
Secondly, try to front-load the day. Get that hardest part of your work done early in the day. Our brains function best early, and our decision-making skills drop off later in the day, especially if we’re already in a strange work environment (living room? bedroom? kitchen?).
Set an end time for work. It is so easy to get caught up, especially in crisis mode, that you are never shutting off–either literally or figuratively. Set a hard stop time for work. It will still be there tomorrow. This whole thing is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t burn yourself out in the first couple weeks just to be staring down a longer period of time stuck in the same situation.
Take a run or workout break before lunch. When else do you have the opportunity to do this regularly? Save the brainpower for the hard stuff in the morning, and then break it up with workout midday. At the end of the “workday” add a fun transition to get out of work mode. Virtual happy hours have become the norm, and I’ve seen a few dance parties happening!
In terms of planning ahead, take it in as many “chunks” of time as you won’t–think about a week at a time, a day, whatever works for you. Until about two days ago I was taking it a day at a time. Now I feel ready to think and plan a week at a time. Try different strategies and see what you like!