Everyone became acutely aware of a looming epidemic in the second week of March 2020. We watched numbers grow exponentially on an interactive map with ominous red bubbles moving from around the globe to our local areas. Our response was to spray Lysol, scowl at those who sniffled, sneezed or coughed; and wonder what would come next. Oh my!
Thankfully, I have not been infected by the COVID-19 virus, but I have been affected by its presence in our communities.
What came next was personal separation of six feet, social distancing, and social isolation. By the end of March 2020, the reality of work and education environments had been transformed and we were affected—oh my!
The result has been an expectation that we will work and study from home, a paradigm shift. Throughout our educational and working lives, being where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there was a priority in achieving success. How do you do that in a virtual world, working or studying from home? How do you achieve the same level of productivity, response to demands, and achievement of goals?
During my first month of isolation, there are several things that allowed me to maintain my normal routine. I believe they may help you as well:
- Maintain your normal routine. Get up in the morning and dress as if you were going to your physical office or classroom. The only difference should be that you don’t commute. Begin work, take breaks, and end the day as you would in your normal office or classroom environment.
- Set up your workspace similar your office or desk space in a classroom. Most will have less room, so you will have to be more efficient with allocation of workspace.
- Keep your workspace temporary. At the end of the workday, pack up your computer, peripherals, work materials and neatly place them out of sight. This prepares you to move back to a physical work location if required and clearly separates work from home life.
- Eliminate printed materials wherever possible. Office and educational environments have been moving towards paperless processes for decades, yet many of us can’t resist printing electronic documents. This requires efficient organization of electronic files.
- Leverage technology for effective communication. Proficiency with electronic communications is critical to success. Platforms like Microsoft Teams enhance communication and may reduce conflict and feelings of isolation. However as with all written communications: think before you type, read and re-read what you type, then publish. Traditional phones may be a little challenging, but Voiceover Internet Protocol is now standard. If employed, you may find that the need for a desk phone has been eliminated.
A benefit of this new norm has been unexpected efficiencies in work life balance. Since I am not commuting two to four hours a day, I have more time for both work and personal tasks. During my normal pre-COVID-19 day, I was on a strict schedule often beyond my control. I had to leave at a certain time, was reluctant to take breaks, had to factor in unpredictable distractions, and had another commute at the end of the day. In the COVID-19 world, I may better prepare for the workday in the morning, plan my breaks, and am in complete control of the end of my workday. This has left more time for scheduled breaks, exercise (quick walks around the neighborhood), taking care of chores that may stack up (laundry), and helping a family member or friend. A better work life balance.
A paradigm shift is “a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.” The traditional assumption has been being at a certain place and time to perform a task. The new assumption may be performing a task in the most efficient way possible wherever you may be. Embrace the new normal by maintaining a routine; set up an efficient, but temporary workspace; eliminate unnecessary materials, and leverage communications technologies. If you make these fundamental adjustments; you will maintain productivity, easily respond to demands and achieve goals to meet expectations. –Oh my!
|James D. Scheffer, M.S.
Director of Admissions
James has over 30 years’ experience in the paralegal profession. He is a retired Senior Chief Legalman, U.S. Navy, was a Paralegal Specialist with the Federal Government, and has been the paralegal education sector since 2007. James has a passion for paralegals, training standards, and mentoring those entering the profession. James is a graduate of Naval Justice School, Newport, RI and holds a Masters of Justice Administration from Faulkner University.