Several people that I’ve talked to over the past week feel unfocused and unable to concentrate on work. Understandably so, when life changes dramatically it throws us off. We want to stay informed of the current news that draws our attention away from work. We want to be there for our families in times of crisis. Creating routine is a way to gain back focus and normalcy in a time of uncertainty. Even if you are off a bit, a routine can set you back on track.

Think about your ideal day. Given that you are now staying at home, what do you want to have happen each day? What do you need and want in your morning routine? What time do you want to wake up and start the day? We may have gained time in our schedules because we aren’t commuting. What will you do with it? Do you need to focus on getting the family ready for a full day of virtual school? Plan and prep meals for the day? Create a new exercise routine, now that the gym is closed? Write down what you want and need to make each day a success.

Get dressed. It’s so basic but let’s face it, you probably went to work last week in sweats. It’s not your normal work attire. If you want to create a sense of normalcy, get dressed. Out of your pajamas and into pants. If you are feeling unmotivated, get out of your house slippers and put on shoes. Again, this sounds simple but it can change your mindset. Give yourself the time to create your own self care routine that is similar to the one you had when you went to the office. Also, remember that you are modeling behavior for your children. They are watching how you show up for work and how you react to the COVID outbreak.

Clock into work. It’s difficult to manage time if you don’t know what time it is. If you don’t have a clock at your desk. Get one. This is a simple fix. If you use your phone to track time but you are on it, you won’t know what time it is. If you use your computer desktop to know what time it is, it’s just too small. You need a timepiece at, on or near your desk.

A quick mind shift of setting an intention for the day or mindful meditation can help as you sit at your desk. You no longer have the commute to mentally prepare for work. What do you need to do to get your mind in the game? Here’s how to do that.

Create a daily compass. What do you need to check before starting your work. A client of mine felt out of sorts when he started his day at his home office. We created a technique to ground him and allow him to check on needed information. He decided to check his calendar, bank accounts, contact management software, and scan emails at the start of his day to feel connected and in control of his work.  

Clients and colleagues often ask what I do. Here is my daily compass and routine. I open my trello board that holds my daily actions. Next, my calendar gets cracked open to check appointments. I physically write out a plan for the day on a sheet of paper that breaks up tasks in 15 minute intervals. Writing in the appointments and tasks I need to complete makes me conscious of the flow of my day. OnePageCRM gets opened and ready so there is one click access to client and contact information. For community projects, I open and check Slack and LinkedIn. All of this takes about 15 minutes. What information do you need to have at your fingertips? What information do you need to check on to start your day?

Prioritize your tasks. Decide what tasks you need to complete. Over the past two weeks, priorities have changed hour to hour, even minute to minute. Deciding on just three key tasks to focus on and adding them to your calendar at a specific time slot will help you stay focused. Give yourself enough time to work on tasks. Often, people underestimate the time they need to complete what they need to get done. Double the time you think it will take to complete a task.

Take breaks. Go for a walk. Take lunch with the kids. Move away from your computer screen and take a break, even just for 20 or 30 minutes. Shorter breaks of just 3-5 minutes help with eye strain and ergonomics. For those breaks, grab a glass of water, check in on the family or look out the window at nature.

Wind down. With work infiltrating our homes be sure to set a hard stop time. You could work all day and night. What do you need to do to close out the day? Give a visual cue that work is done. Close your laptop cover and clear your desk area.

Using these techniques will help you to set a schedule that naturally begins to define your day. You’ll feel more in control. Not everyday will be your ideal day. If you get off track you can use your ideal day to quickly align back to what you want to have happen. Creating an ideal day sets the tone for you to stay on top of, prioritize tasks and get the work done.

Margo Crawford is a Productivity Coach with Wave Productivity. If you are struggling to stay focused, organized and productive at work during the COVID-19 outbreak, you are not alone. Margo works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and business professionals to help them get more focused, organized and productive in their workplace. Set up a consultation today. https://MeetingwithMargo.as.me/ Margo coaches by phone nationally. If you want to get more organized in your office call 602-677-8275 or email margo@waveproductivity.com