It’s no longer simply working from home; it’s working from home during a pandemic. I’ve had the good fortune of being a remote employee during my entire tenure with Balzac, and I’ve been able to fine tune my routine and learn what works best for me over the years. But this post isn’t about that. This post is about how to get through the day when the collective world consciousness is in the throes of major uncertainty. On a normal day, I deal with anxiety. I’ve been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and have found a combination of medication and mindfulness that works for me when the world is in a general state of ease. Now, however, it’s all different. There is exhaustion, fear, uncertainty, and a general state of malaise that can be added in on top of the anxiousness. Here at Balzac, one of our pillars is to take care of ourselves first, and below I’d like to share with you three tips, plus a bonus tip for getting through the day effectively during … all of this.
1. Set one major task that needs to be accomplished that day, and 4-5 other bonus tasks that will feel good to finish today, but have future deadlines
Instead of trying to force yourself to carry on through your day as if all is well, seriously prioritizing your tasks can help alleviate extra performance stress. What we do is take one major task that needs to be finished, such as a PR plan or a social media calendar and make sure that one thing gets done today. You can add additional tasks that would be great to finish early, but don’t need to be done today. That way, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and not unnecessary dread or laziness when working from home. Each day will be different, of course, but this way you’re giving yourself a mental break.
For the wine and spirits industry this could look like focusing on core SKUs, those that already have the largest following and are representative of the brand as a whole. During times of stress and overwhelm, customers tend to revert to the comfort and safety of what they already know. It makes sense to focus here.
2. Take physical breaks while working from home
We have found it’s near impossible to focus for lengths of time we were able to pre-pandemic. Even with using techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, I’m finding myself in need of a much longer break in between tasks. I’ve taken stock of what I need, and vary my breaks throughout the day. Sometimes I’ll go out on the balcony with my cat, or take a walk around the block. Other times I’ll take a short nap, or queue up an Instagram yoga class. These things rejuvenate my mind when working from home so that I can focus back in on my to-do list, and my clients.
At Balzac, we have come up with some of our best marketing ideas when we were out of the office. Something about the difference in scenery builds creativity.
3. Create clear boundaries around work and home time
I used to work from the kitchen island every day in my one-bedroom apartment, and that was fine. But right now, I feel it is extremely important to separate work and home life when I have to be home so much more frequently. There’s no meeting friends for happy hour or dinner after work to break up the day. Generally, it’s just closing my laptop and deciding what I’m going to fix for dinner. (Note that both these things would happen in my kitchen.) So far, I’ve made two purchases that have significantly helped me separate my energies while working from home. First, I got an under the bed storage box where I place my laptop, mouse, and notebooks when I finish working. I also take down my podcasting microphone if I’ve had it out to do recording. Second, I got a portable laptop desk and now that’s the only place I will do work. It can go outside with me, and also into other rooms. At the end of the day it has a storage spot that is out of the way. As I learned in Atomic Habits, anything that makes it easier to make the change will create a lasting habit.
As the way consumers work continues to evolve, this is when the marketing dollars you spend will do even more work. As we’ve seen, wine and spirits online searching and (possibly) purchasing is currently up by the double digits as people continue to eat and drink at home. Continuing to spend money on marketing and PR firms such as ours will benefit clients even more as we can effectively guide them on best practices to reach their desired audience. After all, what better boundary is there than pouring yourself a glass of wine or a cocktail at the end of the work day?
Bonus: Be gentle with yourself
Keep in mind, no one has gone through this before. During our last pandemic in 1918, there obviously wasn’t the technology, nor most of the occupations we have today with the possibility for working from home. Being hard on ourselves about everything from how much exercise we’re getting to the food we’re feeding ourselves compounds when we think that we’re also not doing enough during the work day. Being intentional with your consumption is important right now, and having brands you know and love available to give you a sense of stability can be a balm during so much uncertainty. Continuing to provide that stability through marketing your products online, and continuing to reach out to media will create more loyal customers.
Each day will look different, and that has to be ok. I know I hold myself to an impossibly high standard even in normal working conditions, and it’s been doubly hard to give myself grace, but I’m getting there. And I sincerely hope that you do, too.