We’re just going to lay it all out there: COVID-19 hasn’t been kind to anyone. Our economy has taken an immense hit, and people around the world are suffering from the virus, unemployment or underemployment, limited access to resources, and more. Some of the most astounding statistics have been coming out about underserved populations during the fallout, and distressing information about gender inequality has started to surface.
Suffice it to say, women are experiencing the brunt of the financial impacts of the virus. In September alone, 865,000 women became unemployed in America, a whopping 80% of the total for that month. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. But women are also dealing with the emotional and mental health implications of the virus as everyone else. Regardless of the fact that more and more women are working to support a household, they continue to take on the majority of the household responsibilities outside of work. Leaders need to do more to help women during the pandemic, but we can’t rely on them. We spoke with some working women to get their hot takes and career advice for the here and now.
1. Dress the part
Sales Executive Estefania Corona Orea prioritizes her clothing options to get into the right mind space for productivity. “Dressing as if you were going to the office, at least top-wise, helps get you in the mindset of ‘right, I have to work.’” This can be a tough truth for a lot of people who have gotten used to the comfortable feeling of yoga pants. Don’t worry, we aren’t asking you to abandon your loungewear entirely. Sometimes a bit of mascara, a bold lip, a blouse, or some earrings can really give you the punch of energy you need to make it through the workday.
2. Build community around expectations
“My advice is that you open yourself up to the idea that life comes in seasons,” exclaims Visibility Strategist Erin P.S. Zimmerman. “Seasons of energy, where you may feel energized by the hustle. Seasons of depletion, where more rest is needed.” Setting expectations for yourself will better allow you to give yourself the grace necessary to bounce back after an unproductive day or moment. The community aspect is especially important while you adjust your expectations of yourself because they will come in for aspects of support that are integral to your energy and the way you approach your work. “Building a community where you can find support in all your seasons – and support your people in theirs – is important. It’s a pandemic, but you can still access support and community. We just need to move with the changes and connect differently.”
3. Set work boundaries
I would say that now it’s more important than ever to know your bandwidth and set boundaries. Even for yourself so that you’re not working yourself into a nervous ball. Prioritize your mental health as best you can. You’re still doing your job to the best of your abilities, and are still entitled to your time off, and pay raises. Don’t feel like you shouldn’t be able to receive those things.
Though boundaries are important in every relationship, it has taken many people until now to establish their preferences when it comes to balancing their life from home.
4. Set spatial boundaries
If you don’t have a designated space for work in your home, it’s time to do it. If you’re working from your sofa, it can be really easy to binge watch that show you’ve been putting off. Corona Orea – like many others – is actually prone to multitasking when her space isn’t partitioned off or set up for success. “When working from home it’s easy to start multitasking, but what actually happens is that once you start working on your chores, you kind of become slower on the other ones. I personally think it’s very important to have a designated space for work when working for home.” That way, once you’re in your space, you’re in your space. Plus, it gives you more opportunity to create the work from home space of your dreams.
5. Enforce boundaries with a planner
Not everyone is a planner person. Increasingly, I’ve found that many people I know swear by a daily or weekly paper planner, which restores my faith in creativity and organization. “For me,” explains Corona Orea, “Having an hour-by-hour planner has also helped. I include chores like, ‘run dishwasher’ or so there.” And she’s not the only person who has spoken out about the benefits of a concise planner. Admits Zimmerman, “A paper planner gets my brain in order. And I’m able to keep my non-negotiable in front of me at all times AND my top 3 to-dos.”
6. Develop a plan to pivot
If you’re in a higher position at your company, or a partner in a business venture, Freelance Editor and Beauty, Fashion, and Wellness Journalist Jessica Ourisman suggest developing a plan where you can pivot. “Diversify your income and the format of your business.” Be sure you are anticipating your audience’s needs by collaborating with your marketing or branding team so that you can focus on long-term solutions that will build business despite hiccups. “The most important thing is protecting your business and assets from the effect of shut down and social distancing. Also, to be ethical and not to be greedy or selfish.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.