Episode from the podcastUncluttered Office with Catherine Avery

Suddenly Working from Home, Setting Up Your Desk, and Fear Walking Ep: 42

Released Thursday, 19th March 2020
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A special note from your host, Catherine: This series is all about how our well-being affects our productivity. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we won’t be able to be truly productive. Considering the world is working from home, it’s more important than ever to put the oxygen mask on first.   As pandemic concerns sweep Europe and the United States, join Catherine as she explains why social distancing is so important and how to set up life at home. She walks you through exactly how to set up your new home office and offers advice on how to maintain balance in what feels like insanity. A smattering of time management, a setup desk area and a lot of philosophy will help you send fear walking.   Links:   Much Loved Books that Help me get through tough times - Almost Everything by Anne Lamott Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh   Tomato Timer Forest App Clarity Meditation on YouTube from Rising High Meditation   To learn more about your host, Catherine Avery:   Productivity by Design Facebook Page and LinkedIn To connect with Catherine: http://bit.ly/SchedCallPBD *We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites at no cost to you. Susan David said "Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is fear walking."   Right now, the world is feeling a lot of fear. It’s that deep-down feeling of uncertainty. It’s the fear of the unknown.   Could I get sick? Could my family get sick? How is my life going to have to change with social distancing? Will I feel lonely?   Let’s start with the uncertainty piece. When there’s uncertainty, we feel like we lack control. This thing is bigger than we are. It’s unmanageable. It’s out of control.   People need to feel in control of something, ANYTHING, so they shop. They shop like it's Armageddon and there will never be food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper again.   But it's not likely we'll run out of ALL the things. We're just afraid.   So if you're feeling afraid, take 3 slow, deep breaths.   I’m going to do this with you right now. Inhale…2…3… Hold…2…3… Exhale..2..3...   Remember you've been through hard things before and you got through them. You're still here, right? Which means you got through it.   Write down 5 things you are grateful for. Put your bare feet on the ground or your hand on a tree or both. Feel the strength in that. Draw it in. It's going to be ok. You're ok. We're ok.   Now let’s talk about the fear of the unknown. This is a much heavier topic.   In the United States and in this time of global technology, we DO have some sense of this unknown. But I’ve got to tell you this all feels completely surreal. I wake up in the morning and think this surely can’t be happening.   Because we are such a connected world, we can see what’s happening in other parts of the world – China, Italy, Spain, France – and we know the things they have done that have worked and things that have not. No judgement!   At the time of recording this, our schools are closed, our gyms are about to close, at least one local town is on lockdown and our grocery stores have been wiped clean, restocked, and wiped clean again. By wiped clean I mean the shelves have been emptied.   We’re in the time of social distancing.   Why?   A fellow parent gave this great example of why our kids shouldn’t be having playdates and it applies to everyone at any age:   4 “healthy” teenagers are hanging out together. One is unknowingly sick (and won’t have symptoms for days.) Those kids go home and spread the virus to their families.   -One Mom stops to bring supplies to parents. Now they’re exposed. - Sister of another boy has asthma.   The Boys hang out tomorrow with 4 different kids. Now they’re exposed. -One parent has diabetes. -Another has a heart condition.  -Another has a grandparent living with them.   And it keeps going each day....   One hangout could potentially lead to hundreds being exposed to the virus and numerous deaths or hospitalization of severely ill.  As in life support.   Now imagine hundreds of severely sick patients at the hospital and not enough ventilators.    The doctor has to choose between saving your 75 yr old mother with diabetes and a 16 yr old with asthma.   Can you handle being personally responsible for spreading the virus to hundreds who might die when you find out YOU have it next week?   It’s not about who you’re in contact with today it’s about who they were in contact with yesterday or the day before, etc.   You’re not hanging out with one person you’re hanging out with everyone they have had contact with and everyone those people had contact with.   Just stay home. Save a life. It could be your family member.   Thanks to Becky Pastore for this amazing down to earth example.   So now we’re all staying home and we’re all going to be a little stir crazy. Though lucky for us we seem to have an early spring in Connecticut so can get out for a walk in the neighborhood.   How are you going to juggle work, the kids, your spouse, and heaven knows what else?   I feel for people with young children. It’s not going to be like a snow day or two where you curl up, do a puzzle, and make hot cocoa knowing that tomorrow when the storm is over, the kids will all grab their sleds and build igloos and have more hot cocoa together.   This is you and your family. And that’s it.   I’m very fortunate to already work from home in a home office.  So I’ve got this stuff down. And my husband already has his desk in the lower level. On a snow day, he can hunker down here with his projects.  His office has created a work from home protocol for this situation.   Not all of us are so lucky. I’m going to give a shout out here to all of our emergency personnel and others on the front line, the grocery workers, the truckers, the police, the fire department, the EMTs, the doctors and nurses and anyone who works in healthcare.   Last week, I spoke in general terms about the ways we prepared for this moment. But we didn’t prepare much for three of us “working” from home. My husband has an area for his work downstairs and my daughter’s is only separated by a bookshelf.   With Google Classroom, that would have been no big deal.  But our daughter’s classes will be running twice a week for a full school day on Google Meet.   Over the weekend we had to figure where and how we carve out a quiet space for her. In usual circumstances, I don’t recommend computers in the bedroom, but these are different times. She has chosen to set up her computer in her room.   Here’s the deal. Her comfort and ability to have some control in a time that feels out of control wins. Don’t get me wrong, she’s doing great. But this could go on for well over a month. That setup needs to be what works best for her.   No matter what your situation, it can work. We’re looking for progress, not perfection.   You’ve got your location and hopefully the best office chair you can afford.  Again this doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not the time to go out shopping for the perfect chair.   In the interest of time and budget, a basic office chair from a big box office store is going to be just fine.   At our beach home, I pull up an inexpensive office chair to our dining table. I’m only there for a week at a time. I’d love to be there a month at a time, but life goals...   Now you’ll want to set up your work area.   Imagine you have 3 concentric circles around you. You’re at the epicenter. Within your innermost circle should be everything you need access to several times a day. This could include your computer, any documents or project you’re currently working on, a pen and pencil cup, mousepad, inbox ad outbox.   This is your workspace or white space. You want to keep this area as uncluttered as possible. A messy desk is a sign of a creative mind is a bit of a myth.    You’ll want to be sure to clear up this area before you leave work each day. Why?   1.    You’ll feel better (less overwhelmed) when you walk in your office the next morning. 2.    You’ll leave it looking professional when someone walks by. This is a little less important but don’t you want to feel like a professional? And my luck is that I have a video conference call first thing. Why scramble? 3.    With privacy laws, it’s better to put anything even slightly confidential away.   In your second circle just beyond your immediate white space/work area, have daily or weekly filing, a few of your office supplies, books or manuals you need daily, to be filed box. You’ll want to be able to easily roll your chair to these items.   In your outer circle, you’ll keep everything you don’t need on a daily basis. Those are the books you only refer to once in a while, extra office supplies, maybe longer term filing.   Easy button right!?!   You’ve got your home office set up but you’re still feeling stressed?   First, if it’s not critical for your job (meaning you’re not trading the stock market), turn off the news and social media. There’s a tremendous amount of fear being generated. Not intentionally. Partly news sells. And partly it’s real.   But why distract yourself during your workday?   Better to take a deep breath, do a short meditation (5-10 minutes) or take a walk around your neighborhood to clear your head.   If you’re new to this, you’ll quickly discover there are plenty of other distractions at home - another phone, the kids, dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry.   Shut it all out. Close the door if you can. Choose the most important thing you need to work on and set the timer for 25 minutes. Now focus only on that.   Take a 5 minute break when you’re done then do another 25 minute round.   This is the Pomodoro Method and it has allowed me to get so much accomplished! You can use tomato-timer.com or the app Forest to keep track of your time.   So a smattering of time management, a set up desk area and a lot of philosophy.   Now tell fear to take a walk and get cranking on that to list!   You’ve got this. And if you don’t, I’ve got you. Just go to my website at productivitybydesign.com to schedule a call.   I would love to help you through this time with a productive office environment that works for your success in both work and life. It’s what I do.

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