Advice for Those at Home, Working and Otherwise

At this point, your library should be closed. Some of us are working from home. Some of us are just home. Staff should not be required to report to work to get paid. All of us should be getting paid.

General advice

Keep a regular schedule. Get up and get ready every day. This provides some order and calm into your day. There is some evidence that getting dressed improves mental health.

Set a schedule. I know one of the joys of being on vacation is no schedule, but we’re not on vacation. We don’t do well with uncertainty, and there is plenty of that going around. Setting a schedule lets you and people who live with you know what to expect during the day. Setting a schedule, even if it’s scheduling when you’ll watch tv, clean, cook, and exercise helps reduce stress.

Get a journal or even a calendar. The days are probably going to start blurring together.  Keeping track of what you do each day will help distinguish them and give you something today. Consider bullet journaling, which can be as straightforward or as fancy as you prefer.

Get some nature every day. If you can walk outside safely (at least 6 feet from people), do that. If you have house plants, move them around, so they are more insight. Look up at the sky from inside, lay on the floor if you need to. Crack a window to hear bird songs. Exposure to nature reduces blood pressure and the production of cortisol.

photo of a shelf over a desk. The desk has a laptop connected to second monitor. The shelf holds two plants and a small storage box.
My set up at home

Get regular exercise. Even if you weren’t a gym-goer before social distancing chances are if you’re staying in now, you’re moving around less. Here are 15 workouts you can do at home. YouTube is full of at-home exercises. Consider a mini bike for home or a mini-trampoline. I have had both for years and enjoy them both.

Take a break from social media. Log out of Facebook and Twitter. I know things are changing so rapidly it’s hard to feel out of touch even for an hour. But taking a break will really help you.

For People Working from Home

Make sure your set up is ergonomic.

Here is an excellent toolkit from OSHA

If you have a laptop, consider getting a second monitor (or repurpose a small tv),  keyboard, and mouse. Hunching over a laptop will get uncomfortable fast. You can create a dock reasonably easily with a USB hub and an HDMI cable. I have been using some variation of this setup for 10 years. When work gave me a new laptop, all I needed was a new hub with USB-C. You don’t need a fancy or expensive hub. This is the one I use on the new work computer (I needed the HDMI out), and my home one is so old they don’t make it anymore. But it is a simple 4-port hub, the computer has an HDMI out. You should able to get one for less than $20. If you can’t get a second monitor for your laptop, consider using a separate mouse and keyboard so you can raise the screen level.

Great creative to make sure your computer is at the right height. Books, decorative boxes, and more can raise things for you.

photo of a USB hub connected to a laptop, mouse, and keyboard. The laptop and the monitor sit on boxes to raise them to an ergonomic height.
My USB hub, mouse, and keyboard. Plus the decoupage storage boxes I used to raise the height.

Be sure to get up and move around each hour. Especially if you don’t have a good office chair at home. Consider some desk yoga or other stretching exercises. Jenn Carson has some great resources for libraries, including DeStress at Your Desk and Taking Care of Us.

General Advice

I won’t do too many of these because they are plenty of articles about their about working from home in general. So here are two that I’ve found to be most helpful.

Get “dressed” for work each day. Working from home is great! But many people struggle to disconnect from work when working from home. One way to do that is to get “dressed” for work each day. That doesn’t mean a suit and tie, but it means getting out of your pajamas. You may also find that changing clothes at the end of the workday helps you turn off work. There are many great articles out there on this.

Cut yourself some slack. These aren’t normal times. You maybe struggle to focus. That’s ok. Do the best you can. Be kind to yourself.

What advice do you have? What did I miss?