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This whole COVID-19 thing has been really wild. I spent most of my life at home before any of this happened, as one of my previous blog posts at the beginning of the pandemic stated. I thought we were just going to be going back to “normal” after a few weeks, and we wouldn’t be continuing to work from home and even do schooling from home after such a long time, but surprise! It’s September, and we’re looking at the possibility of staying home even longer.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: It has not, and will not continue to change my life too much. It hasn’t even been too bad for me; I’m really, really lucky for that, and it is NOT BECAUSE I AM AN INTROVERT. I am a huge extrovert! I love talking to people. I can talk to any stranger I meet on the street, and find anything to talk about for hours, and I love being around people.

Regardless of my personality propensities, I learned to adapt to this new “normal” long before other people, because I’ve spent much of my life a home, like a little hobbit (except my feet are really small). Nothing has really changed too much for me and won’t for the foreseeable future, and I’ve continued to be productive because… Well, again, not much has changed for me.

I may be an honorary hobbit, due largely to the fact that I’ve been working from home for two and a half years and I was homeschooled most of my life, but that doesn’t mean in any way I haven’t had adventures or accomplished things. In fact, if you ask my friends, they’ll tell you I’m one of the most productive people they’ve ever met and it’s hard to get me to sit down, despite the fact that I’m home most of the time (like the rest of you, now! Muahaha).

Since we’re probably looking at more time spent at home, or possibility, you now have kids at home, or you yourself are a teen or college student at home, take a few tips from a pro on how to continue to stay productive and how I’ve made the most of my life in the Shire.

  • Keep your home clean and organized
    You may hear some crap article on the internet telling you that intelligent people are disorganized and work best that way. I’ll tell you I am disorganized and my friends accuse me of being easily distracted while I’m getting a project done. That’s entirely true; the way I get things done is not going from point A to point B. It’s often going to point A, then a long detour, back to point A, finding an entirely new point, like Q, skipping over to point Z, then jumping back to point B. That’s fine; a mess when you’re in the midst of work is no problem in regards to productivity. But when the task is done, you need to organize your things. If you and I are competing on getting a task done, and my area is organized and I know where everything is, I’m going to get things done way faster than you.
  • Don’t sleep in all day (or at least keep a regular sleep schedule)
    I bet you slept in when we took the ‘rona precautions and stayed home, didn’t you? When did it start feeling like groundhog day and you started feeling like crap, and like you weren’t getting anything done? My schedule didn’t change much during the US portion of coronavirus precautions. I was still getting up at 5 in the morning to teach classes to my ESL students, as I have been for the past 2 years. And, I felt great. (Well, as great as you can feel when you’re waking up at 5 in the morning 5 days a week.) I’m not saying you should get up at 5 am, but you need to keep your sleep schedule regulated and not be tempted to take naps all the time if you actually want to be productive while working from home. Get up at a decent hour, get a to-do list going, then relax after you’ve completed the tasks.
  • Exercise
    Do some form of exercise – preferably one that gets you out of the house so that you can focus on it, and give yourself a little bit of a treat, so to say, leaving the home – if you feel comfortable or healthy enough to do so. I only started exercising because I wanted to maintain my weight but also keep eating like the Gilmore Girl that I am, but now I’m excited for an excuse to get out of the house to go to the gym to go for a run, get on the elliptical or lift some weights. Start small – I was pretty terrible at exercise right off the bat, and always stay within the limits of what your body sets for you, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be refreshed and be taking good care of yourself after using an excuse to get out of the house. Or, even get creative, maybe just walking your dog will be enough to put a little pep in your step.
  • Put your phone down (and make use of your screen time app)
    Nothing sucks away me being creative like spending unstructured time on social media. Once I started seeing the screen time information on my iPhone, I started realizing how much unstructured time on social media was taking away from my productivity at home. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending a half hour or two on Facebook or Instagram after you’ve got your important work done. This includes messaging. I’m super sociable and I love to talk to my friends, but I notice I spend most of my time messaging them and not getting my important work done.
  • Make time for face to face socializing and meet new people (whatever way is safe for you)
    For years, I’ve made sure to get out of the house to see people outside of my inner circle to give myself some stimulation. When you work in an office, or a restaurant, or some other place, you have to be around people you wouldn’t normally choose to be around. And we need that to continue to grow and evolve. We need to see new faces and new people. Don’t just get on Zoom or Facetime and talk to somebody you already know. You have to get out of the house, or in some way while you’re at home, make a way to talk to a new person. Join a new group on Facebook or Instagram and get to know new people. I think that’s something people really lost during the pandemic and that we’ve taken for granted.

    We stagnate if we stay within our own groups and stay isolated. So, if you feel comfortable getting out of the house and chatting it up with someone new, or just people watching at the park, go do it. It’ll renew you. Or, make new friends in a group related to your interests or related to a new thing you want to learn through a social media group. This will renew you and help you stay engaged in your work when you come back to it. As always, be careful at any age that you’re not meeting up with any weirdos, and don’t meet anyone new online or offline without the permission of your guardians if you’re a minor reading this.

Try these things for a week and see if it’ll get you where it got me after two and a half years. By other peoples standards, I’ve been called the successful independent woman who other people can depend on, who is always happy – or at least is adaptable and puts on a brave face when things get tough. It’s really not a secret, I’m not special, I wasn’t hatched from some pod that made me immune to the effects of staying at home for prolonged periods of time. It’s just been a way of life for me and after many trial and error processes, I found what things I’ve done on a daily basis that lead to me being the most productive version of myself.

Did I forget something that’s helped make you productive through this time of us all being hobbits? Leave a comment and let me know!

Good luck and welcome to the Shire!

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