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In this era of social distancing, our team at Ally has been hunkered down, working from home and doing our part to flatten the curve. We’re trying our best to create comfortable home spaces, stay productive, get active, and, most importantly, maintain our wellbeing. With that purpose, we asked our teammates to share ways they’ve been making their stay-at-home time as successful as possible.

Creating a Workspace That Works

Many of us are used to our standing desks and a curated office setup. But now, we’re finding new setups that work and improvising alternatives  for standing desks: countertops, bureaus, and oddly enough, ironing boards. Back pain, be gone!

Designating “zones” in our houses has helped, too, like a music corner, a reading corner, and a work corner. One of our teammates fills her workspace with plants, essential oils, and bright light from the windows. It’s a little slice of office paradise! It helps her get ‘in the zone,’ whether it be for work or downtime — plus, natural light often helps us stay positive and keep track of time … and it’s also the best lighting for video calls.

If you have trouble focusing on conference calls while at home, find something mindless to do with your hands, like pulling out an easy puzzle or chopping vegetables for dinner." - Renu Kohlmann

Another way we’re getting ‘in the zone’ is with the Calm app’s “white noise” feature to drown out sounds from the house and the neighborhood. And when working next to kids doing homework or at play, headphones with soothing meditative background sounds are super helpful … even if just for a few minutes. It might be tough to find a groove amongst the din of kids being homeschooled and a partner also working from home, but these small steps are helping us through.

Fueling Productivity at Home

When everything outside seems out of control, some teammates are sticking as close to their usual routines as possible to feel more in control. For some, that means starting the day as if they’re leaving the house: taking a refreshing shower and getting dressed in day clothes — not PJs (or at least a separate set of “day PJs”). After getting a quick hit of news, they’re ready to take the plunge into productivity.

“I like to do laundry or run the dishwasher while I’m making my lunch — it makes you feel like you’re not only getting your regular work done, but you accomplished some serious housework, too — a twofer!” – Jessica Stroupe

Some people regard music as a must for productivity. Music helps break up the monotony and keeps us going through the entire day. For example, here is one of our teammate’s workday music selection:

  • Morning: A journey through Mozart’s or Beethoven’s classical piano sonatas
  • Midday: The Deep Focus Spotify playlist to really buckle down
  • Late afternoon: Funky instrumental trap beats for a groovy finish to the day

Real talk: We’re quickly realizing that our workdays are likely not going to be 9:00–5:00, but more like 8:30–9:45, 10:00–12:00, 12:20–2:00, 2:45–3:30, 4:00–4:45, then maybe 8:00–9:00. After the first week, this simple, realistic admission really helped us figure out a system. And here’s another important thing that’s been top of mind: Interruptions from kids, partners, pets, and more are just going to happen. So, we’re focusing on being kind to ourselves and our teammates if the workday has to pause for a moment. We’re getting the job done, just adjusting to the times.

And we’re still trying to put a bookmark at the end of the workday. Maybe through a daily activity that helps the brain shift from work mode to family- or me-time, like walking the dog, going for a jog, sitting on the porch, or simply shutting down the laptop for the night.

“Periodically, I set the alarm to take a 10-minute walk, clean, or vacuum the family room. It’s remarkable how much more productive you feel when you give yourself these little scheduled activity breaks outside of normal business activities.” – Kelsey Manoogian

New to our routines is the need to be more mindful of our news intake. One way we’re doing this is by subscribing to informative e-newsletters, like “Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric.” That way, we get the news we need to start the day, but we’re less tempted to repeatedly hop on social media to see what’s going on.

Keeping Our Bodies Moving

While our local gyms are closed, we’re doing our best to workout at home to maintain our fitness. One of our teammates even curated a two-week workout plan for us — and he’s not the only one. There are tons of online plans out there! But here’s something else we’ve realized: It’s imperative to be extra careful and make sure we’re doing workouts from certified fitness professionals. With medical centers already at capacity, it’s especially important to avoid injuries due to improper exercise.

“I’ve been doing morning yoga via the Peloton app with my family — even my dog joins in, which makes it even more amusing! With the wealth of streaming workouts available, it helps me get up and energized for the day.” – Kari Deneau

Drinking at least one glass of water per hour helps get us moving, too, if only to refill it. But our best bet is getting outside, even if it’s just to the mailbox and back, (especially when it’s cold or raining). We’re trying to make going outside a daily ritual, so we don’t even think about it — just throw on the appropriate gear and go!

This may be an unprecedented time, but we’re focusing on staying safe and doing our best to still be productive and healthy. Let us know what you’re doing with this time in your own life in the comments below.