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Back to School & Work From Home Survival Guide

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If you’re trying to manage and coach and cook and work from home, it likely feels like trying to get an elephant to balance on stilts. Let’s be honest. A new desk set or notepad isn’t going to change that. Some therapy might help. And a lot of help from whoever’s in your corner. But maybe, just maybe, some of these ideas we’ve put together will help you too.

Set Intentions & Priorities

It’s tempting to make to-do lists and leave it at that. Planning takes extra time which, we just covered, you don’t have! But, making a short list of the items you need to accomplish will actually save you time in the long run. It helps ensure you don’t forget an important project or deadline and makes certain you budget enough time to get the top priorities done.

Speaking of which, once you’ve written an exhaustive list of what you need to do, go ahead and pick just the top 5 things that MUST get done this week. That gives you one must-do a day. Everything else is nice if you accomplish it, but if not, you give yourself permission to let it go and still feel accomplished for the day. You can do this for each member of the family if you’re responsible for little ones too.

If you make your short list shorter, DO IT! The less you obligate yourself with, the more you’ll inevitably accomplish.

I know you’re saying right now, “Five tasks is nothing! I have to get 50 things done before noon everyday. This is never going to work!” I hear you. We’re not talking about brushing teeth, getting the mail, making yourself breakfast, etc. But what are the big things that are going to move the needle for you? The sales call you’ve been putting off? Rescheduling the kids’ orthodontist appointments? Ordering groceries? Those belong in your Top 5.

Block Your Time

Allot chunks of time to each major task group you have each day. Include in this a time for you to take at least two solo breaks so you can stretch your legs, get a change of scenery and rest your brain. And set a household break. Lunchtime is a great opportunity for this! Whenever is best for you, schedule at least 15 minutes for everyone to drop what they’re doing and just enjoy one another. This will keep you present, help you refocus on what matters and not just what is or isn’t getting done.

Go Outside

If the weather’s nice, find a few moments every day to go outside. Your brain needs breaks, your body needs to move. The Vitamin D is more essential now than ever and helps ward against depression. So soak up those rays. Go for a walk while you’re on a conference call or while you brainstorm. The effects of nature and moving your body on creativity, critical thinking, and productivity are endless! Really, you don’t have time to NOT go outside. It will be cold before you know it, so take advantage of late summer while you can.

Outsource Whenever You Can

I can’t stress this enough. If you have a partner, housekeeper, nanny, neighbor, friend, above-average pet, or clone you’ve created in the lab, please, for heaven’s sake, ask them for help! Even if the task at hand is outside their normal domain, ask if they wouldn’t mind helping and offer to reciprocate in some way. We are all stretched too thin right now and need each other more than ever. The feeling of isolation is growing and it’s tempting to feel like you have to depend on yourself, but I’m going to be there are a handful of people in your quarantine pod. If you have kids, now is a great time to start asking them to step up and do something for themself that they need to start learning to do. Can they make themselves a PB&J? Can they pick out their own outfit or pull the laundry out of the dryer and put it in the hamper? Look for willing hands, and I bet you will find them. All you have to do is ask, and that’s all you can do.

Give Yourself Some Grace

You’re probably hearing it everywhere. Finally, the messages on social media are shifting from “Hustle hard.” and “No rest for the weary.” to “Slow down.” and “It’s okay to stay in your pajamas all day.” And they’re true! In fact, they’ve always been true. Rest is essential, even in times that are happy and positively abundant. It’s even more crucial in times of stress and crisis. And you may have had a shortage of rest even before we entered this crazy season. So when (not if) you run out of clean underwear, when the dishes in the sink start resembling the leaning tower of Pisa, when you forget that meeting you said you’d be at, when you feel like ice cream is an acceptable breakfast food and cereal a reasonable dinner, when you lose your cell phone and you think you might lose your mind with it, remember that this is all temporary and you are doing the very best you can. That is the most anyone can do and all that is required of you. Things will get better and you are still good enough. And maybe make that appointment with your therapist and order a pizza.

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