As I mentioned in the introduction to this series of posts, I have been working from home for many years, and I know the value of having and sticking to a routine. Just like our readers, at the beginning I, too, had a hard time, but through trial and error, I figured out what works for me. I struck a great balance between my work life at home and my home life.
My routine has always included exercise. That is what keeps me balanced and takes care of me physically and, most important, mentally. Exercise for me is what sharpens my mind, keeps me focused, and helps me to keep working at peak levels.
I would like to share with our readers my routine and the small changes to it due to COVID-19. We invite readers to share theirs with us as well.
Wake Up at a Set Time
Consistency in sleep and wake times helps your body and mind stay in rhythm.
Make Your Bed
In a conversation around integrity long ago, someone once told me that if you cannot have integrity in even the simplest things such as making your bed in the mornings, it will be hard to have it consistently in anything else.
Whatever your breakfast consists of, even if it is just coffee, have something. My breakfast is usually a protein and vegetables such as a scrambled egg and spinach, or low-fat Greek yogurt with fruit or nuts. I cannot handle a large breakfast on the weekdays; it makes my brain sluggish, I have found.
At some point during the day, either before breakfast if I have no early meetings, at lunchtime, or at the end of my workday. I also play tennis, and in warmer weather I play early mornings. I use a gym—my building has one—or I take a walk and do a minimum of 10k steps a day.
During project busy times, my day usually involves back-to-back meetings starting from 7:00 a.m. until at least midday. I make it a point to mute myself and stretch to keep my circulation going.
Stop Work When Work Hours Are Over
When work is over, stop working. Put it out of your mind until your start time the next day. Now, this is easy to say, but it is hard to do. It took a while for me to program myself to do this, and now I can easily. I realized that I was not serving my employers well if I was trying to rush, multitask, work long hours, and after a certain period give them subpar efforts. I was not serving myself well, either.
In this time of crisis that we are all going through, my routine has stayed almost the same with a few small changes. I still exercise, but gyms are closed—even the one in my building—so I make sure I take walks, but now it is every other day to keep contact with others to a minimum. I have also added in new activities such as the Bollywood dancing I mentioned in another post, and now, I also do “ClubQuarantine” with DJ D-Nice, which is a virtual dance party to help alleviate my boredom. I love hanami, and this year since it is cancelled, I attend any virtual tour of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden offered by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Not Every Work-from-Home Situation is the Same
Susan has experienced changes to her daily routine. Many readers may not realize this, but JapanCulture•NYC is not her main occupation. She is a graphics operator for live televised sporting events. Since there are no sports events being televised and no Japanese-related in-person events, Susan is transforming JapanCulture•NYC into a source of information on virtual activities in the Japanese community and with me, is providing helpful tips to guide and support her readers in this time.
Susan is doing Rajio Taiso each morning with a group of friends, daily Zoom meetings with me, and attending as many webinars as she can. This Sunday, she is participating as a panelist for the American Sake Association’s “Sake Social Sunday.” She’s also started a new video project with J+B Design, a unique showroom in Park Slope, Brooklyn, featuring contemporary Japanese products inspired by traditional craftsmanship. You can see the videos on J+B Design’s Facebook page. Following her interest in community involvement, Susan is also assisting with a project through the Japanese American Association of New York and other organizations to help seniors.
Please stick to your routine as much as can, or create new ones. Add in something you have never done before virtually and make the best of this situation if you can.
Call to Action
Share with us what you are doing to keep fit, productive, and mentally sharp and let us know if you have taken on a new activity that you would never have tried before this.
With a background of ten years living in Japan and almost 20 years of experience working with remote teams worldwide, Yvonne Burton, president of Burton Consulting International, provides services including Technology Consulting, Business Communications courses, and Cross-Cultural Training to Japanese firms operating internationally and companies operating in the Japanese market. To learn more about Yvonne and her work, please visit burtonconsulting.biz.
Share this article with friends who may be struggling with establishing a consistent work-from-home routine, especially if they are Japanese or work for a Japanese company. We’d love to know what challenges you’ve been facing as you work from home. Please submit any questions you may have or any topics you would like Yvonne to address by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Yvonne will post here three times a week, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn from her.
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