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Making The Most Of Virtual Living

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KIMBERLY RUSCITTI

A vitual wine and cheese tasting is a great “night out” while social distancing. (Photo by Kim Dunbar)

As we approach the nearly six-month mark of living in a world plagued by a pandemic, it seems more and more likely that we won’t be getting back to normal for a while, if ever. Gone are the days (at least for now) of heading into the office for work Monday through Friday or meeting friends for dinner or drinks at a local restaurant or bar. As we begin to adapt to our new normal, here are some ways to master remote living.

In a world where quarantining and self-isolation have become necessary, feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression are increasingly common. As an introvert, quarantining was great at first (I didn’t have to make up elaborate excuses to get out of leaving the house), but after a couple of months, even I was losing my mind. It’s more important than ever to keep in touch with friends and family and maintain social connections. If social distancing isn’t possible or you’re weary of venturing out in public, try getting creative.

Gather your friends for Happy Hour… Zoom style. We are lucky to live in a world where there are multiple social media platforms. FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and House Party are all apps that virtually connect us with loved ones when a simple phone call won’t do. Just as you would pick a time to meet friends at a bar, set a date to grab a drink and meet up on Zoom. The best part: There’s no dress code, so sweatpants are completely acceptable.

Participate in a virtual event. Just as we’re finding unique ways to stay connected to our friends and family, restaurants are getting creative to stay afloat during these tough times. This summer, Hudson restaurant Kith and Kin partnered with Mullahy’s Cheese Shop to offer a four-part virtual wine and cheese tasting via Zoom. Do the same with your friends; host a virtual wine, beer, seltzer, cheese, etc. tasting or start a virtual book club. Pick a book and meet online each week to discuss. Some organizations are even still hosting virtual trivia and bingo events.

Have a virtual watch party. Can’t meet up with friends for your weekly Bachelor date? Pour a glass of wine and tune in to your favorite show or movie with phone in hand. Text your friends as you watch – but make sure everyone pauses for bathroom breaks!

In a remote world, in which your home becomes your office (or a day care or classroom), the lines between work and life can blur and your work-life balance will start to tip the scales in the wrong direction. However, there are plenty of ways to keep calm and carry on (as best one can these days, that is).

Set up a schedule and routine. Working remotely, there’s no official start and stop to the day as there is when you are going into and leaving an office. In order to keep work from overtaking your life, stick to a schedule. Keep your work hours just as you would if you were working in the office; just because your laptop is sitting there doesn’t mean you need to open it before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

Set up a home office space. For months, my office was the comfy recliner in the corner of the living room. However, it got to a point when every time I sat in the chair, even at night, I reflexively opened my laptop and felt the need to do work. Also, the horrendous posture of working in a recliner for eight or nine hours a day WILL catch up with you. Set up a home office or designated space where you can comfortably work every day. This will help keep work out of sight when you’re off the clock.

Don’t forget to take a lunch break. Being at home, you have a number of excellent opportunities to improve your health. For one, it’s easier to make your own healthy lunches. When rushed to get out the door in the mornings, it’s easy to forgo packing your lunch and grab (usually) unhealthy take-out instead. You can also use your lunch break to go for a walk, run or work out. Embrace this time at home to renew your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and get in shape.

Embrace the flexibility. When in the office, you’re usually tethered to your desk. When working remotely, you can work outside, throw in some laundry in between emails or go for a walk during a conference call (as long as you don’t need to take notes and can still pay attention to the road).

Though quarantining and remote living can certainly suck, there are still positives to be found. Getting creative and staying connected and optimistic are the only ways we’ll survive. That and wearing a mask.

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