The summer break is coming to an end. Kids are going back to school. But some of our recent pandemic – related restrictions – like Work from Home days - are continuing. It seems people either flourish in their home office, or find WFH is invasive of their home space and time and they struggle to be as productive and disciplined as they (or the boss) would like them to be.
So how can WFH be approached mindfully?
Be deliberate about what you do BEFORE your work day starts. US Army General William McRaven is famous for saying “If you want to change your life, start each day with a task completed. So try making your bed! And notice if you feel good doing it.
Avoid looking at your phone for the first 30 minutes of each day. Dedicate that time to getting ready for your day in ways that will feel good when you look back at the end of the day ie making your bed!
Don’t go with how you feel when it comes to deciding whether to do things (like exercising, eating well, tackling the top priority first or taking adequate breaks during the day). It’s a terribly unreliable way to make decisions. Instead, work to goals that you set the evening before when you were still alert and energetic and able to focus on what would make the next day feel like a good day.
Be aware of what drains or distracts you from important tasks and really limit it. Lots of us read the news (or our newsfeed) several times a day at the moment – one story leads to another and another, and before we know it half an hour or more has passed and maybe what we’ve been reading has made us anxious, lowered our mood or made us feel reactive and less able to work well.
Be deliberate about communicating your work boundaries to family or housemates: Wearing headphones can say “I’m working”. A closed door with a note saying when you will be available to talk is an excellent strategy too.
Recognise that everyone manages WFH differently: so maybe put a note in your automatic email reply that says “I’m working flexibly and check emails at all hours. But I understand if you only check this in normal business hours.”
Be kind to your body: if you are on a phone call that doesn’t require note-taking, could you lie on the floor to give your back some love? Could you talk while you walk around the block?
Notice if your need for “people - contact” is being adequately filled. If not, arrange Skype or Zoom calls with friends (Texting doesn’t give the quality of interaction that seeing someone's face does, so doesn’t have the same positive effects)
Lastly... notice your state of mind (and your colleague’s or client’s too): look at what’s going on for you and them and consider whether some empathy might be in order? These are strange and challenging times and the very real stresses we’re exposed to may well mean that we are not being our best (or kindest) selves. Expressing understanding of what’s behind a failure to cope or perform could be the one thing that helps someone to keep going.
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