In recent days, there have been developments and progress towards initial re-opening of states across the country. For many of us, however, returning to work will be a more gradual process and will still involve some time at home as companies, localities, and the country as a whole work towards resuming normal life while maintaining social distancing and mitigating chances for secondary waves of infection. Thus, it’s still incredibly important to keep in mind these 5 strategies for working effectively, and healthily, at home:
1. Maintain a schedule
As the pandemic drags on and days at home seem to start blending together, it’s easy to lose track of your normal daily routine. Although it might not feel exactly the same as your weekdays before lockdown, following your daily routine and scheduling out your tasks and events is still vital to achieving a productive work-life balance at home. After all, humans are creatures of habit and, in more normal times, we would seek out and adhere to schedules in order to keep us both focused and grounded. Whether it’s fully utilizing your organization’s workflow systems or following your own personal Google/Apple calendar, there are plenty of ways to stay on track and focused while working from your new home office.
A picture-perfect, clutter-free at home workspace.
2. Learn a new skill
Many of you reading this may be lab scientists and researchers stuck at home. While you may not be able to directly collect samples for your experiment or perform PCRs in person, you can still take advantage of this newfound time at home to learn new programming languages and create fancy new data visualization methods using R. In addition, graphical abstracts are becoming an increasingly prominent part of new scientific publications. This time can be used to create your own graphical abstract, which are self-explanatory visuals that summarize the main findings of your research. You can also take this time to start a new book on an interesting topic you’ve never quite had the time to look into, or read studies and literature pertaining to your area of research.
3. Social distancing does not mean stop socializing
It is vitally important to maintain social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of infection. At this point in the pandemic, this is a concept that we understand and have heard countless times in media reporting and in publicly released guidelines. A better way to put it, however, might be “distant socializing” along with social distancing. It may not have been proper etiquette prior to the pandemic to be using your phone or technology too often in social settings, but with new efforts towards physical separation underway, these same developing communication technologies have proven to be a saving grace. We've all been trained to use these tools for more formal methods of communication such as conference calls, meetings, and teaching purposes—but why stop there? Here at ABclonal for example, we’ve been using Zoom to stay connected and to digitally unwind in virtual hang-outs at the end of the week. Try using these tools in your at-home career while in less formal settings, you won’t be disappointed!
While many of us have traded-in slacks in favor of sweatpants while working from home, these stock image models have got the right idea—minus the suits. Try out some casual and social Zoom hang-outs with your colleagues.
4. Revisit, review, and revise that long-forgotten project
Somewhere deep in the depths of your hard drive, there may be unfinished data from your past experiments and unpublished manuscripts just waiting to be reviewed. Take this time to revisit some of these old files and documents to determine whether they are, in fact, publishable or not. You can dedicate more time to further analyzing your findings and for the all-important yet sometimes frustratingly tedious process of data cleansing. You just might be surprised with what a fresh pair of eyes can do for you and your past unpublished experiments and findings.
Just as we must declutter and reorganize our physical spaces from time to time, we should also be paying attention to sorting through our digital files and documents.
5. Practice self-care
Last in order but certainly not of importance is paying close attention to your physical and mental health. As another part of human nature, we are social beings. Though necessary, quarantines can cause us to neglect our physical and mental health. Yoga is a wonderful and enriching activity to take part in at home, as it takes limited space and also contributes to both physical and mental health through mindful exercise. You can also step outside for some fresh air, as safer-at-home orders don’t forbid you from going for a short walk around the neighborhood. Especially if you’ve been cooped up indoors for a while, some time outdoors can be particularly relaxing and can serve to instantly brighten your mood. Just remember to wear a proper facial covering and follow distancing guidelines while outdoors, and you’ll be good to go.