Back to Basics: Working During the Coronavirus Crisis

If you’re still working in this crisis, congratulations! As you might have noticed, not everyone is. In the U.S., over 3 million people have lost their jobs permanently or temporarily. Still, given the uncertain environment out there, it can be hard to stay focused. Today I’ll offer some suggestions for keeping all of you (and all of me) healthy, positive, and productive.

Doing Things to Make Your Job Go Better

You might not be feeling terribly great right now. That’s okay (and I say this as someone who is not always okay, either). Normal rules are being held in abeyance to some extent. Still, if you are working, your managers, customers, and peers are still expecting you to be productive.

Taking care of your health

There’s never been a better time to start developing good habits to take care of yourself, especially if you’re isolated and making fewer visits to the grocery store or your favorite restaurant. In addition to minding the four-part constellation of diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep, you also have fewer opportunities to grab a snack or sugary beverage–assuming you’re not buying such things and keeping them in your home. You have much more control over the “temptations” you have at home than you do in the office or on your way to and from work. Stress eating is a problem, too; you want to come out of this crisis in better shape than you went into it. My pointers on health can be found here and here.

Staying stress free

I know, I just addressed stress in the previous section, but I’m the emotionally excitable sort, so stress management is a separate issue all by itself because it can affect the same instrument you use to write and edit with: your mind. Therefore, it’s worth taking the time to be mindful the things that are bothering you. I’d like to say I am taking all my own advice and managing my stress like a champ these days; I would, however, be lying. Therefore, like you, I’ll be giving these entries some more thought: here, here, here, here, and here. And remind yourself that everyone else has the same concerns, worries, and problems stressing them out, too.

Maintaining a positive attitude about your abilities

In the midst of all this “excitement,” you also might be called upon to learn or do something new on your job. Your attitude toward your abilities and your work need to stay constructive as well. You can find a meditation on this subject here. Bottom line: you can do this!

Leaving a legacy

With so much time away from the office, you can give some more thought to life outside of work how you would like to be remembered–not just as an employee or independent contributor, but as a person. If you’re no longer working and you define yourself by your job, you might still have this concern. The trick will be to do as much as you can: research or conduct the actual activities from home. That, or you can start planning the things you can need to do once we’re free to move about the country again.

Having fun

Believe it or not, this job can be fun. I’ve written about these experiences here and here. You might not be having fun at this very moment, but odds are you have some decent memories of when you did. Give some thought to those moments. Or, if you became a technical writer on purpose and you’re a tad on the workaholic side like me, working on a daily basis is fun. Allow your enjoyment of the work to carry you through some of the ugly things happening around you.

Bottom Line

The primary message here is obvious: take care of yourself. This has become a regular theme here and is likely to “for the duration of the emergency.” There is nothing sinful about self care, nor about helping others if they’re having a hard time. I suspect our attitudes toward workplace pressures and expectations will shift quite a bit as a result of this collective experience. If anything, we’ll have a better idea of how much we’re willing to take and have a better set of boundaries for what we’re willing to tolerate in the “normal” course of business. Meanwhile, do good for yourself. The future still needs you.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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