Have you found your rhythm yet? Six tips for remaining sane in your new ‘working from home’ dimension
Profound change creates anxiety. For the first weeks of lockdown, we all went with the flow. However, last week I noticed a shift of energy in myself and my clients. We want more structure. We want more clarity. We want to find new ways to manage our new living arrangement.
Here are some other interesting, radical, perhaps mad ideas for organising your day, deep into lock-down:
Put aside the specific time you would normally commute to the office to create separation from your work and home life:
- Leave the house for your daily exercise at the same time, even if it’s to “run home” around the garden! It will boost your serotonin levels, which enhance mood and oxygenate your brain.
- Learn to meditate. If you find that challenging, check out these free guided meditations.
- Listen to that audiobook you had in the car for your commute while you take a leisurely bath.
Explode Your Hours
You choose the hours that work for you (around meetings of course):
- Start early, finish late, and block out the fun things, the “you time”, the family time, the nap time in the middle. Focus on productivity, not keeping time.
- Fit in an exercise routine just before the later work time to lift your energy levels.
- Get creative! Use energy matching to select the appropriate type of work for different energy levels during the day. You could make all the decision-making calls early in the day before you use up your quota. When you feel a dip in energy, allocate time for the tasks that require less brainpower.
Restrict Media Consumption
It’s easy to get pulled into news articles and increase your anxiety levels.
- You wouldn’t have unfettered access to social media at your desk so put your phone on airplane mode and focus (unless you’re a social media manager of course).
- Schedule only one news fix in the day and definitely not in the late evening or it will impact your sleep.
- Swap bad news for happy news, like The Happy Broadcast.
Laugh! Get a funny fix at least once a day, if not more. Book it in, don’t leave it to chance. The act of laughing improves oxygen to the brain, improving concentration, and boosting our feel-good serotonin levels.
Control Communication – Zoomed Out?
When I saw the article by the National Geographic Science section “Coronavirus Zoom Fatigue is taxing the brain”, I did roll my eyes at another dodgy media slant on the virus. Then I remembered moaning about face-ache from constantly smiling to avoid my resting bitch face or frowning with concentration or because I’m too vain to put glasses on.
I much prefer coaching over the phone. Listening between the lines is somehow easier without visual distraction. For me, it feels more personal.
24/7 contact with anyone, including our loved ones is rare and close confinement can wear thin. In fact, most divorces are started after the Christmas break when people have been cooped up. Please, let’s not have that happen. Give yourself some space. It’s OK to want some time alone. I’m a 98% extrovert and even I like more time alone now. If that’s not you, then don’t panic. Give your people space and they will come back to you in much better shape!
- Exercise separately perhaps
- Take turns to relax alone in the bedroom with a book
- Take a long bubble bath listening to music
Listen to your body.
- Try not to compare yourself to others. “We had it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o’clock at night and lick the road clean!” Monty Python’s Yorkshiremen were competing about who had the worst time growing up.
- In contrast, there has been a plethora of earnest, well-meaning gurus, in the last few years, espousing the benefits of getting up early, earlier, earliest. Do not feel bullied into another ridiculous morning routine fad. I remember a conference at The Hague with a speaker encouraging the benefits of a 5.30am trip to the gym. Followed by another speaker saying: “Ah yes, I’ve moved my schedule to 4am. The still of the morning is soooo productive”. Perhaps if you live alone, in a soundproof environment with blackout blinds and can get to sleep by 8pm. (In fairness, if you’re a shift worker I imagine you do have some of these in place).
- Do what works for you. The experts say 7 to 8 hours is healthy, and to stick to the same bedtime every night. Test it! I suggest you work out how that is for you. Larks and owls exist and most of us fit somewhere in the middle. We all want to have a productive, high energy, positive day. Take this opportunity to find out your natural body rhythm (if you can – family allowing) and get a feel for the impact on your productivity.
When it comes to well-being, remember that you can lift your mood with simple things like a cup of tea or a funny YouTube video. Make time for these things. Imaginary commute time, shifting around regular working hours, being news-free, meaningful communication, alone time, and sleep can all help keep things feeling fresh.
What new daily routines and habits have you created in your life? I’d love some inspiration! Please share your thoughts on Facebook or LinkedIn.