The Sky Is Falling…or well, COVID-19 makes it feel like it is.
So the sky may not be falling, and it may not actually be the end times, but the toilet paper hoarding, empty soup shelves, and Mad Max mentalities are reminiscent of every apocalyptic movie I’ve ever seen. Walk into any store in the US right now and you couldn’t squeeze the Charmin if you wanted to.
Schools are closed. Sporting events are canceled or playing to empty stadiums and courts. People are being asked to self-quarantine, work remotely, and shelter in place.
The opposite of the “each man for himself” mentality is also happening. People are offering to feed children whose only meals usually come from school districts. On Twitter people are starting Venmo lists to help each other out. Businesses are choosing to close temporarily to stop the spread of the virus, but still paying their workers a stipend to make it possible for them to pay rent.
It’s something we have never experienced in modern days. It’s global. It’s scary. It’s isolating. It’s depressing. It’s anxiety-inducing. It’s the unknown.
It’s also something that a lot of those working in WordPress have some expertise at.
Now, I’m not saying that every WordPress user has a secret cache of toilet paper, or a wine cellar half filled with emergency supplies (and half with wine, of course). But I am saying that working remotely and coming together as a community is where we excel. So let’s help others understand some of the best ways to survive when your home is also your office.
1. Find ways to connect to others virtually.
Whatever chat/sharing program/app you want to use is fine. At Impress.org we use Slack. But you can reach out to others via direct message on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Kik, and many other chat programs. You may have to sequester yourself from others physically, but you can make sure to stay connected virtually.
2. Have fun with your crew – whether it’s a work group or another online group.
Take a page from the GiveWP team. We issue fun Slack challenges, share memes, razz each other, share our celebrations, and ask for help.
3. Stay Supplied
If you can’t get out, you can still order (some) groceries and items online. You can use Instacart, Amazon, HelloFresh, BlueApron, GrubHub, DoorDash, and more. Supplies may be limited, so you may have to be creative in what you order, but you won’t go hungry.
4. Resist the urge to raid the fridge too much.
Working from home when you’re not used to it can make it tempting to snack more than usual. Remember that what you eat isn’t as easy to replace right now, so go easy on your supplies. Even better, create a food schedule. Decide what meals you’ll have for the week and when you’ll snack and what you’ll eat when you do. Make your supplies last.
5. Be comfortable.
Make sure wherever you set your work station up that it’s as comfortable as possible given the furniture you have at home. Tables are sometimes taller than standard desks and non-work chairs aren’t always comfortable. Make sure that the height of your keyboard isn’t too tall or too short. Avoid arm and shoulder pain. We may not have phone books anymore, but you can be creative with sitting on pillows or raising the keyboard on books.
6. Stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of water. Help yourself to tea and coffee, too, but water will serve you much better for overall health.
7. Take breaks.
When you’re out of your usual environment, it’s easy to lose track of time. Set timers if you need to so that you get up and walk away from your screen. Use the restroom. Get a drink. Sit on the sofa with your kids for a few minutes.
8. Speaking of kids…
COVID-19 has schools closed all over the world. If your kids are making you crazy, take a tip from Sentree Hosting: Resist the urge to sit them in front of the TV all day. Pull out books, puzzles, art supplies, & even costumes & encourage creative play. Set timers to challenge them. An hour of play…then a snack.
9. Guard your mental health.
Seek help if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious. These are different times we’re living in and none of us has had to navigate any of this in this way before. Call your doctor if you have thoughts of self-harm. If you need to talk to a professional about feeling depressed or anxious you can reach out to WP&UP. That’s their mission: to support the WordPress community. Don’t let dark and disturbing thoughts take over. You’re worth seeking help for.
10. Don’t obsess about the news.
Limit how much you’re watching the news and seeking out news sites. I promise that you will hear about major events in many ways, so try not to dwell on it.
And seriously, wash your hands. And don’t touch your face.
Above all, remember that you may be physically alone, but you’re not alone in this experience. We’re all in it together.
If I can serve as a resource, reach out to me. My Twitter DM’s are always open.
Michelle is a veteran of public speaking. She’s been an instructor for a wide variety of topics including Using Quantitative Data Analysis Software, Meditative Drawing, Intro to WordPress, and Marketing for Massage Therapy. Michelle speaks at conferences all over North America. You can find many of them recorded on WordPress.tv including “Little Things That Make a Big Difference” and “Hidden Features of WordPress Revealed,” as well as panel discussions on ethics, marketing, page builders, and women in technology.
Michelle is the author “A Good Firm Handshake (and other essential business tips)” available on Amazon.com.