I did a post at the beginning of lockdown about staying positive. With things feeling so uncertain I think we still do need to find ways to stay positive.
Some people are ready to go away on holiday or to go back into the office. Whilst others are finding the transition more challenging and need more time or to build up to it. There is no right answer for any of this. I think it's really important that we don't put pressure or our own expectations onto people either. Lots of kindness is needed at this very unusual time.
If you are working from home you need to establish a new normal again. You may have made a good routine for full on lockdown, well now you need a halfway house. It's not quite the norm but it's closer than lockdown.
Working at home each day probably sounded a dream initially. However after some time you may start to miss the kitchen chats or the lunch time banter. It can feel different. It can feel like your not ever leaving work and the lines between work and home can become blurred.
As somebody who has juggled the business with working at home / having two small children I know it can be really tricky to juggle everything. You can end up feeling like your failing at all of it. Everybody works differently but here are some tips I have found useful over the years -
- Get dressed. It's so tempting to stay in your PJs or lounge clothes. But by having a shower and getting dressed for the day you will feel so much better. I have even heard of people saying putting on shoes makes them feel more in the zone. Make a note of the days you feel at your best and try to notice if there are any common themes, ie I wore make up that day or started the day with x y z. You will start to understand what your brain associates with working and you are on your way to working happy.
- Find a space for your work and all of its bits and pieces and be strict about it staying there. That doesn't mean you need a luxury office. It could be as simple as your dinning table in the day and then each evening clearing the space away into a draw. Pshycoligically by putting your laptop away into the draw you are ending your day. Which means you will be less tempted to dip into work that evening or to 'just send that email' before breakfast.
Try to make the space clean, clear and peaceful. The better the environment, the better chance you have of being at your best. Treat yourself to a nice mug, new notepad or a pot plant, it's the small things that can really make a difference.
- Add in a commute. Sound crazy? If you used to get the train / tube / cycle / walk / drive to work, you are most likely underestimating what those journeys did for you. They give you time, time to think about your day, process stressful moments, be pleased about successes, but most of all it's time just for you. Once you've put your laptop away or shut the spare room door etc, then take a little walk, it doesn't have to be far, even a walk or cycle around the block will do wonders for your brain. You can then reenter the house, ready to enjoy your evening.
Try not to find reasons that you can't do this, rather look for ways you can. Ie if you have children and it's tricky, then take it in turns or take them with you.
- Take breaks! You are entitled to take a break. Back to back zoom calls are not good for anyones productivity. Take a decent break, away from your desk or working space. Get a drink and sit somewhere else with a book or go and grab a coffee from your local independent as a treat (knowing your helping to boost the economy again). Its ok to treat yourself, you would have before, so why not!
- Time block. Just like how you book in a meeting, time block yourself an hour or half an hour to carry out a particular task. This is especially good at home because it helps you to not be distracted. Being at home, it can be much more tempting to quickly browse on your phone or various tasks around the house. Not only this but by blocking the time in your diary, it will stop any calls or meetings from being put in. During this time don't take any calls or check your emails. You will find you will get through your tasks and your day much more focused.
- Find a mentor. If there is anyone at work or maybe someone who is in the same industry as you, who you feel inspired by, then why don't you get in touch with them and ask them to mentor you. The worst thing they can say is no and I am sure they will be very flattered at the least.
Having a mentor can help you to feel guided in a strange, overwhelming time. It can help with motivation and actually they will probably enjoy speaking with you and you may find that you both take comfort in realising that many people have the same worries.
- Encourage your team for some face to face time. If you can or if you feel comfortable and ready to, then try and think outside the box for some face to face time. Could you get your team together and meet in a big outside space for a distanced meeting? Yes maybe it is a long way to travel for an hour long meeting but I can promise it will feel really good to reconnect with your team or peers. It could be a monthly thing or even quarterly but I think it will bring a lot of positive energy for the team and help with bouncing ideas. Sometimes calls can have that timing gap and just not feel quite as fluid as a face to face meet up.
I hope these tips help you to feel happier in your working day. It can be a process to get there, but if you believe you can, you absolutely will. As corny as that may sound.