As virtual assistants we have been accustomed to the pressures of working from home and handling the household while maintaining a work life balance. However, the lock down, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has now meant 'work from home' for most of us, with so many struggling to keep up.
Our houses have now become a battle zone for work and school activities and it is inevitable that work will interrupt personal time and vice versa. The trick then lies in trying to maintain a balance between our work and home lives as these have now fused into one huge activity that is constantly demanding our attention.
In the initial phase of the lockdown we understood that it would be a short-term arrangement and we pepped each other to get through this phase. Gradually this changed to become the new normal. The world as we knew it started to change loved ones were lost, the economy was affected and so many people lost their job. Feelings of patience for the situation changed into serious anxiety for what will happen in the future, while all the time juggling the demands from home schooling.
Many of us have had melt down days where we have been a blink away from having it all come crashing down and then we have asked ourselves 'What if we can't do this?'. Working at Platinum VA as virtual executive assistants, helped us be ahead of the curve as we already worked virtually and our team functions on the basis of strong support system with our leadership team checking in on us regularly to provide advice or encouragement.
While we did have this additional advantage over our peers, who suddenly found themselves working virtually, we still had a lot of new factors to content with like kids of varying ages being home schooled, Wi-Fi freezing due to multiple users etc. Coping with these different situations required a unique approach and thus the below hacks were born to create that extra support system. Here are the top 5 hacks we learnt to incorporate into our daily lives and these have worked great for us.
1. Create a common calendar – Since we are all working/studying from home, it's important that we are aware of each other's schedules. Every important activity should be scheduled in one common calendar, whether it is a training, a client conference call or a school presentation, a common calendar will help us be mindful of each other's busy schedules.
2. Invest time in setting up the younger kids – Children in school between grades 1 to 3 need to be taught some basic computer skills. True that they are born in the digital age and much more tech savvy then we were at their age, but we should understand that this is all new for them. Simple tasks like using a link to log into an online classroom, switching between tabs or uploading homework is all brand new to them. Teaching your kids to be independent with their online learning will help eliminate interruptions during your work time.
3. Schedule rest appointments – However busy your day is it is essential to put in 5-10 minutes in your calendar to be used as time to move away from the screen – you could simply look out your window or stand in the balcony, drink a cup of tea/coffee peacefully. Remember to move away from your work area while doing this. It will really help you unwind and when you come back you realize that you just work more efficiently.
4. Delegate or Delete – This tip is for those who have a habit of saying YES or committing to many activities thus feeling overburdened. At the end of every week just list 3 activities that you could have declined (deleted from your calendar) or delegated (to some else) and when those same activities arise next month, then you are more conscience and prepared for them and know what to do!
5. Prioritise self-care – Make every effort to include small amounts of self-care daily at the end of your working day. It could be some meditation time or siting in a room and listening to some soothing music – just some quite time after work. 10mins at the most! This will help you calm your mind from all the craziness of the day and when the time is up you are ready for the action that's still left until its bedtime.
Above all else find out what works best for you and your family, it may be one of the tips provided above or something else completely. Here's wishing you a smoother journey in the months ahead.