covid19: work from home

Covid19: 10 Tips for Staying Productive and Mentally Healthy While You’re Working From Home

By now all of us have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives have temporarily changed, however drastically, in order to collectively fight against this dangerous epidemic. This is requiring all of us to change our behaviors, make tough decisions and think about alternative ways to stay productive. It’s also requiring us to step into self-leadership to be able to keep ourselves safe and at the same time make sure we are helping our friends, family and co-workers handle this challenging time with more grace and ease.

In order to do that, I’ve created a quick check-list to help you care for your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and stay productive while staying and working from home.

1. Create a separate workspace

Many of us are having to share our living space with multiple family members during this period of self-quarantine. If you’re like me, having your own space and privacy is super important to your sanity. While having your own space may not be entirely possible, you can carve out a specific space in your home that is dedicated to you. You can use this as your workspace if you are working from home or an area where you can go to reflect, meditate or chill out. Let your family members know it’s important for your well-being and productivity to have this clearly defined space and request that they respect the area by keeping it clean.

work from home working space

 

2. Create a Weekly & Daily Plan (and stick to it!)

For many people, working from home for an extended period of time is a new experience and it can be daunting to get into a routine and not fall into the trap of watching Netflix for hours on end. Add in having to care for children, homeschool, cook and clean and it might feel like you are working two full time jobs (which most working mom’s have been feeling for decades!). It’s important to get into a regular routine and have a weekly and daily calendar for yourself and for your household chores, including your children’s school schedule. On a Sunday afternoon, map out your plan for the week and then block out chunks of time on your calendar for all the various tasks you need to get through each day. Don’t forget to schedule time for exercise, meditation and fun!weekly planning

 

3. Utilize Technology and Discover New Apps

There are virtually endless technological solutions to keep us connected, productive and happy! Here are some of my recent favorites that are helping me stay on track:

Zoom: Online Conferencing technology to help you conduct meetings, webinars, classes or a virtual happy hour with your friends!

Calendly: Schedule virtual meetings, phone dates, or other appointments easily. You can block out dates/times with your availability and send out links for others to automatically schedule a meeting with you. 

Krisp: A new noise-cancelling technology that blocks out background noise while you’re on a conference call.

Happify: An app to help you reduce stress or negative thoughts and build skills for a healthy life with fun activities and games.

Insight Timer: An app where you can learn how to meditate, cope with anxiety, manage stress and improve your sleep

 

4. Discover & Learn New Skills

If you’ve been thinking about learning a new skill, this is a great time to take advantage of having some down time to dedicate to self-improvement. There are endless resources and distance learning courses available to develop virtually any new skill, many which are free! If you’re into professional development, LinkedIn Learning has a great repository of online classes you can take to improve your communication skills, learn how to work remotely or brush up that resume. If you’re into personal development or interested in spiritual development, MindValley offers great classes on meditation, breathwork, and similar topics. My recent fave is the MasterClass series that offers online classes with celebrities where you can learn how to cook with the world’s most famous chef, Massimo Botturo or take an acting class by Helen Mirren. If you’re interested in developing more self-confidence, check out my new Beat the Bully Course I recently released to help you build the confidence you need to reach your goals!

new skills while covid19

 

5. Make Money Online

If you’ve been laid off you’re or worried about getting laid off due to the coronavirus epidemic, fear not! You probably have a skill that you can transfer online by teaching others through platforms like UpWork and Fiverr that connect freelance workers with potential employers. Now more than ever, companies will be hiring remote customer service workers and industries such as technology that already see a wide gap in skilled IT professionals are going to search for new talent. If you don’t have the skills necessary, then use this time to gain the knowledge to make yourself relevant in the future job market. Or think about developing an online course that you can sell on Udemy or elsewhere. Don’t let fear immobilize you – make a plan on how to adapt to the changing job market (which was going to happen with or without this pandemic according to recent studies). 

 

6. Prioritize Self-Care

These are stressful times calling us to step up and prioritize self-care. This crisis is forcing us to slow down, look within, and really re-examine whether being stuck in the rat race has been serving us. While it may be stressful to have to homeschool your kids, isn’t it great that you can spend some quality time with your kids and take more interest in their development? Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways we can keep a positive mental attitude and see the bright side of where we currently find ourselves. Make sure you are scheduling time to move your body, exercise and practice yoga and meditation – remember it’s about mind-body-spirit balance! I myself have been enjoying PopSugar’s Latin Dance workouts in my living room which I find is the best home workout (and the great part is nobody can see how bad my moves are!)

practice self-care

 

7. Avoid Feeling Isolated

During this time of imposed quarantine, it’s easy to feel isolated especially if you live alone. So it’s more important than ever to find ways to connect that are healthy for you. Limit your daily dose of news and social media to keep your stress levels down. Opt instead to read a good book, do some journaling, or set up a virtual happy hour with your friends! Share your gifts with the world whether that’s reading a poem you’ve written, giving a private concert or doing a nine hour DJ set like D-Nice has been doing from his living room which even broke the internet and went viral! Reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to for a long time, coordinate a virtual lunch hour with your teammates or participate in one of the many online webinars and events taking place.

 

8. Practice Leading Gracefully

Now is the time to practice selflessness and to give back by helping others. If you have an idea you think will help, make a plan, ask for help and see it through. Find ways to volunteer (safely) by delivering food to an elderly neighbor, share your provisions if you a stocked pantry, or start a fundraising campaign to help your community. Fight for the rights of the vulnerable and realize that if you are in a position of privilege, you have an obligation to help those not as fortunate as you. It is not time to blame, point fingers or give into feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. You are always at choice as to how to react in any given situation and you can choose leading with kindness and empathy over selfishness at any moment.

 

hardcover of book leading gracefully

 

9. Practice Art Therapy

Art therapy is a well-known technique to help soothe the nerves, work through emotions and express

yourself creatively. If you’re like me and have no idea where to start, watch a free Intro to Art Therapy video on Youtube that can guide you through the steps. No supplies? No problem – all you need is some paper and a pencil. You can also ask your kids to share their art supplies with you. Better yet, why not co-create a painting with your children?! Find fun ways to tap into your creative side and if painting isn’t your thing, try a new recipe, write a poem, or do some outdoor karaoke (it seems to be helping the Italians!).art therapy work from home

 

10. Remind Yourself – This Too Shall Pass

It’s easy to give into the fear and anxiety of our current situation and it does require us to all stay vigilant, be responsible and care for the safety of ourselves and others. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that even this challenging time is temporary and we will get through it. Places like China that were hardest hit are now slowly going back to normal life. If we all do our part (like staying indoors!) then we will get out of this situation sooner than later. As the great spiritual teacher the Dalai Lama has said, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source for strength. No matter what difficulties, how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s the real disaster.”

 

Hopefully these tips allow you to make the best of the current situation that we all find ourselves in. No matter how long we have to stay in quarantine, we can all use this time to build healthier habits for ourselves and our families that can help us far after we’ve combatted this pandemic. Have some other ideas on how to increase productivity or your well-being during these trying times? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Your Working Life Podcast Interview

I had the pleasure of speaking with Caroline Dowd-Higgins on her Your Working Life podcast recently. We spoke about my book, Leading Gracefully and how both women AND men can benefit from embodying “feminine qualities” of leadership, like vulnerability and empathy, and how these qualities are those that people are searching for in their leaders today.

Take a few minutes to enjoy our lively conversation about how to Lead Gracefully.

4 Reasons Why We’re Still Talking about Diversity

The business case for having more women on boards and in top executive positions is clear. It has been shown that when there are two or more women on a board of directors, the organization performs better on ROI by 66%. When companies are more racially and gender diverse, they outperform those with the least by 35% and 15% respectively. If any other investment opportunity presented this kind of potential gain, businesses would have jumped. But they haven’t. Some say it’s due to a lack of understanding of the business imperative, others point to a pipeline issue or a lack of mentoring. However, neuroscience points us to reasons that may not be in our current consciousness, creating barriers to capitalizing on those would-be gains.

Here are four types of gender bias that are contributing factors, the awareness of which is only the first step toward parity on boards and in top leadership positions.

Performance Bias:

Studies show that performance of those in the dominant, “in-group” (in this case white men) is based on their potential, not on their accomplishments. Therefore, male performance is over-estimated compared to that of women. Because women are held to stricter and higher standards, the odds of them progressing are lower.

Performance Attribution Bias:
When men and women perform an act, men are given credit more often while women are judged more harshly. Men are thought to have innate brilliance, where as women are thought to have made it due to a stroke of luck or help. Who would you like your board? Someone who you think is brilliant, or someone who got there because of pure luck?

Maternal Bias:
There is a general belief that women cannot be both good mothers and good performers, therefore women with children are less likely to be hired and promoted. Could this be a contributing factor in decisions made about women coming on to boards who are of mothering age?

Double Bind:
Women have the unique challenge of having to choose between being seen as competent or being liked, walking a tightrope between being too nice or being assertive, which often puts them in a double bind. Leadership qualities are still attributed to masculine qualities like being assertive, confident and direct, but when women present with this style, they are chastised.

Of course, there are many other types of unconscious bias, however these four in particular make it infinitely more difficult for women to break through into the ‘boy’s club.’ Awareness, mindfulness and behavior change are the antidotes, as is honest and open dialogue about the real impacts of bias and how to overcome them to achieve more balance.

The Future of Work: The Art of Collaborative Leadership

The way we work is shifting. We see that in subtle ways and other times in not so subtle ways. Even traditional companies like Deloitte are investing in people development, realizing that it is the best resource they have to stay ahead of the curve. Those with a real competitive advantage intuitively understand innovation and creativity as essential to meeting market demands and crucial in facing our collective sustainability challenges. The future of work as we know it is shifting from an outdated directive approach toward collaborative frameworks that inspire us to engage in new and different ways with our work and with each other.

Read the rest of the article on the Huffington Post here.

Women in Leadership with Angela Mezzetti

I had the honor of being a featured guest on the Women in Leadership podcast with Angela Mezzetti. We had an in-depth discussion on how women can lean into their natural strengths, like using vulnerability as a strength, and how when we let go of the need to micro-manage and trust our team, how that can inspire creativity and innovation, some of the key ingredients to success in today’s competitive market. We also talk about the Queen Bee syndrome and how women have to do better at supporting one another and helping each other up the ladder.

Listen to the full interview here: http://womeninleadership.ie/2016/07/monique-svazlian-tallon-leading-gracefully/