Here’s What’s Up: Quarantine Edition

Alexa, play “Locked Up” by Akon.

First and foremost, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this scary, uncertain time. It’s incredibly overwhelming with the current circumstances of the world looming over our heads and always having it in our face with the news and social media. For a while, it didn’t exactly feel right to push out content at this time, but I’ve found that creating content and writing has been therapeutic for me. I, like many others across the globe, have found myself mentally and emotionally struggling during this time and this is the best way for me to deal with what’s been going on in my mind, so I’ve made the decision to continue to create and distribute my blog posts.

Today is the day that I thought I’d be returning to work and everything would start to shift back to our normal routine, but this is not the case. I’ll be honest, initially this didn’t seem like such a bad gig — a little more time to myself, a two-pace commute to my desk, having a consistent workout schedule. It all sounds pretty great! Now that we are about a month in, I’m finding that I’m having a much harder time with it all. My fiancé and I were in the middle of house hunting, and I was sure that we’d be in our future home within the next few months; however, with the mandatory shelter-in-place in effect in Michigan, our search has come to a screeching halt. Additionally, since he is a firefighter and can potentially be dealing with COVID patients on a daily basis, we have made the decision to socially distance from each other. After being long distance for four years, this should be a piece of cake, but I’m taking it a lot harder than I anticipated. Luckily, I’m safe at home with my immediate family, and we’re all safe and healthy with the exception of an increased feeling of cabin fever. I’ve been making a conscious effort to get some fresh air by going for walks a few times a week or just stepping out on our back patio, and trying to keep in touch with friends and family through texts, calls, FaceTime, and Zoom meetings.

I’m well aware that my own situation is peanuts compared to what others are going through. My heart aches for my little brother and the rest of the senior class of 2020 who are missing out on those final days of high school and college: sports seasons have been cut short, no prom, no spring break, missing out on those final days with their friends, and Lord knows about graduation or graduation parties to celebrate their achievements. My heart goes out to those who cannot gather for various milestones at this time — having to postpone their weddings, being unable to properly put on a funeral or celebration of life for those lives that are lost, and many more circumstances. Finally, my thoughts and prayers are constantly with those who are being directly affected by the virus — people who have and had the virus, their families, those on the frontlines: healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers (grocery workers, mail carriers, and many others) putting themselves at risk daily to help fight this and help others through this.

The Positives

Despite everything, I’m making an effort to focus on many personal positives that have come out of this:

  • Working on my Health and Body: I now have a consistent daily workout routine with the help of two of my sorority sisters. Also, being at home has forced me to practice better eating habits and cook meals that are better for me (not including the chocolate croissant above — that is a special treat since it reminds me of happier times). In addition, I’ve developed a solid meditation routine. While I’m still not the best at turning my mind off, I notice that I’m getting better with every practice.
  • Wedding Planning: I have the time to start researching venues and vendors for our wedding. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve already found my dress (more to come on that later)! With everything so up in the air right now, we have yet to set a concrete date, but we’re aiming for Spring 2022, so getting a head start on planning has me super excited!
  • Blogging: As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been able to dedicate more time to working on my blog and creating more content. It has been very therapeutic to me to do something I’m passionate about.
  • Developing Personal and Professional Skills: I’ve allocated more time to improving myself on both a personal and professional level, utilizing platforms such as Coursera and LinkedIn Learning. This is something I’ve been trying to do for a long time, but time didn’t always allow for me to get through the course; now, I have zero excuse to not get through them!
  • Reading: Slowly but surely, I’m been working on my rather large to-be-read pile. Currently I’m working on The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and I’m totally captivated by this story. To discover more books that I’m reading, have read, or what I’m looking to read next, check out my Goodreads profile. My goal this year is 55 books, but I’m always hoping to surpass that goal!
  • A Deeper Appreciation: As they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. Boy, has that really hit home with me during this time. I’ve always thought that I appreciated the little things, but this has taught me not to take little joys for granted.

A Glimmer of Hope

At the end of all of this, I’m really hoping that people prioritize what’s really important in life, and don’t take our freedoms and privileges for granted. Hug your loved ones a tighter and cherish the time you have with them. We will persevere.

-K.

7 Tips to Enhance Your Productivity While Working Remotely

In the last week, I, like many others across the globe, have found myself working from home. While I’ve done this a number of times due to illness or bad road conditions, I’ve never been home for an extended period of time as I am now. Let me tell you, adjusting to this temporary “new normal” was a lot more difficult than I anticipated. 

In the last couple weeks, I found what was supposed to be a hectic March rapidly slowing down. As events we were scheduled to attend began cancelling left and right due to COVID-19, I found my to do list decreasing exponentially; however, this has become the best time to discover new ways to get creative with my position. 

Set a routine — I’ve found that sticking to my usual routine and having my usual work hours work best for me and how I work. I usually get up, and do my usual morning skincare routine, brush my teeth, and get dressed before I start my day. I also keep my usual work hours to help me keep that space between work life and personal life.

Get dressed — Even if I’m changing over from my pajamas to leggings and a sweatshirt, I feel so much more productive when I get dressed for the day. Plus, it’s that extra push to get out of bed and to my desk. 

Create a workspace that is NOT your bed — When you realize that you’re working remotely, your first thought might be “wow I can’t wait to work from bed!” Right?? WRONG! Personally, I like to put on some chill, atmospheric music (Spotify has some great mood playlists), light some candles, and sit at my desk in my room away from distractions. I’m also one of those strange people who absolutely cannot have the tv on or I will get distracted from what I’m doing. 

Use the Ivy Lee Method — I recently started using the Ivy Lee Method to enhance my productivity at work after hearing about it through Lauryn Evarts Bosstick of The Skinny Confidential. Often times, I get pulled away from what I’m working on or something urgent will come up in the middle of working on a project, and I find that my productivity wanes. I started using this method as a means of keeping me on track when these distractions happen and it really works! At the beginning of each day, write down the 6 main tasks you want to accomplish by the end of the day. Those tasks that aren’t complete are transferred to the top of your to-do list the next day, and so on and so forth.

Take short brain breaks — The same thing goes for being in the office. I know that I can’t have my eyes on my computer all day long, nor can I stay focused for that long, so I remember to get up and get moving to give my mind and body a break. 

Check in with your colleagues — Working from home can get lonely, so make sure you check in with your co-workers just as you would if you were in the office.

Get active — We all know that sitting at your desk all day is not healthy. Make sure you get up and get moving several times a day, whether it’s taking a walk at lunch, ensuring that you’re getting up to stretch every so often, or scheduling in time to get in a good workout. Since working from home, I have a set a calendar notice every day at 5pm for my daily work out. This has helped immensely to integrate it into my routine. Additionally, there are so many benefits to staying active while staying in: improved focus and cognitive function, better sleep, boosts energy, combats health conditions and diseases, and much more.

These are just a few tips that I use to help keep me on track and productive while working from home. Do you have any WFH methods that aren’t on this list? Share them below!

-K.