“I feel less stressed… I am free from the commute, from the physical transitions. It makes me happy and more relaxed…I spend a lot of time with my children…It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to be together so much…I am more mindful…I am exhausted in a new way – from sleeping too little because I work at night; from being the cook, teacher, mom, entertainer and friend each day…there is no metro ride home with my music, no sports training with my trainer, no coffee moment while waiting for my daughter…I miss meeting people in person…I am very efficient but I am not sure about my productivity levels at times…I work when they sleep and this is not a balanced situation.”
Answering “how has work/life changed for you?”, this is from an email I received from my friend Marcela. For me, her honest reflections really capture the ups and downs of lockdown life – with or without kids, I’m sure you too can relate to some of it.
Even if you’ve been able to pivot and continue your work as before, every one of us has been disrupted. We’ve all had to make HUGE adjustments since the Corona Crisis lockdown began…
With some shops reopening this week in Germany it seems there’s finally some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Nevertheless, it seems homeworking and other precautions will continue for a while longer…
Here are 10 smart tips and strategies for navigating the choppy waters ahead.
TIM’S TOP 10
- Establish a routine.
I’m fairly sure you’ve already done this. If not, you wouldn’t have made it this far. A routine will give you much needed stability – make it a priority to connect to stabilizing things and people. If you don’t already have a regular daily routine, make one ASAP (lunch at 12.30, bed at 11.00, etc.). No worries if some days look different from others – you can always go back to it. Structure is your new best friend!
- Restart something.
Think of something enjoyable you started doing a while back but got dropped at some point. You may not even remember why. No matter – pick it back up. I restarted a interview Webseries and I’m having more fun with this this time round. Perhaps the timing is now right for you too?
3. Do something different.
It’s hard to lose access to those things outside the house that brought you joy. For me it was a weekly visit to a yoga class followed by a big lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant. I’ve found a yoga teacher online and started doing it at home – I’m enjoying it more than expected. I no longer have the ambience of the restaurant but I still enjoy their take-out. Rather than completely letting go of a pre-lockdown pleasure, find something to replace it.
Incidentally, I just completed day 18 of “Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge” – it gives me stability, routine and structure. Helps with the next tip, too!
- Get fit.
You miss your fitness club more than anything right? As a busy professional, I’m guessing this was one of the easier things to let go? However, you can use this time to get more sleep, eat better and get at least a few workouts in per week. You can use the time you’re saving from the work commune to schedule a few in your weekly routine. You don’t need to aim for ABS OF STEEL but do use this time to get fit(ter).
- Start that thing.
What is that thing you’ve always wanted to start but could never find the time or energy for? How about how? It’s a great chance to finally start learning Spanish – or the guitar, if you’re super ambitious. I started making short videos on my phone chronicling my experience as an “American Transplant”. And if a new language or something involving you in front of a camera sounds like too much – scale it back and do something small. But do start.
BTW, if you’d like to take your English to the next level, here’s a free “10-Day Challenge”.
- Set weekly intentions.
Sunday before going to bed or first thing Monday morning, make a list of your top 3 priorities for the week. You can always do more but it’s good to have 3 primary areas of focus. At the end of the week you can look back and see that you’ve accomplished something significant. On weeks where you can’t get to all 3, simply carry the undone ones over to the next week. The point is setting the intention, not completing the task.
- Create daily ritual.
As you’ve lost access to the company café or other pre-lockdown pleasures, it’s important to establish a daily ritual that gives you joy. The best part of my day is making myself a vanilla soy cappuccino – the anticipating, making and drinking of it! It’s important you have things you look forward to throughout your day. Think of a small thing during your new day that brings you joy. Find a way to do it every day.
- Get fresh air.
Just as important as sufficient sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise is fresh air. Try to get outside at least once a day for a dose of it. It’s easy to get focused on the tasks at your desk and to jump from call to call and forget to step away and go outside. You don’t need to be a neuroscientist or medical doctor to know that smelling fresh air, hearing birdsong and seeing green outside your four walls has a positive impact on your brain and body. And, it will refresh you before you transition to your next task or call!
- Check in with yourself.
Even though most communication is now virtual, you still have difficult conversations and uncomfortable meetings that need to happen. Before going into your next challenging situation, ask yourself these 2 questions:
- What is the primary feeling I want to bring to this situation?
- What is the primary feeling I want to get from this situation?
By being more intentional about how you approach your challenging situations you will better navigate them.
10. Breathe. Act. Breathe.
Finally, when you do experience a stressful situation with yourself or with others, take a moment before and after to breathe. A practical tip I’ve adapted from High Performance Habits is to stand up, take 5-6 deep breaths and then ask yourself:
“How would my best self handle this situation?”
In the spirit of transparency, I wrote this post as much for me as for you – although I’m sure you can integrate a few of these tips with your own practices.
Most of these tips and strategies I’ve put into practice already. However, I’m striving to be more mindful and intentional in my actions and interactions. I believe tips 9 and 10 can help me with this.
With some quiet reflection, I bet you could come up with 10 things you’re already doing that have helped you adapt to the lockdown.
If nothing else, see it as an opportunity to increase your self-awareness – the key to peak performance!
As mentioned, I’ve combined establishing a routine with doing something different and getting fit. And for at least 30 days the morning yoga is a daily ritual!
If nothing else, think back to Marcela and try and be more mindful in whatever you do!
P.S. If you’d like help implementing these tips and strategies, I invite you to check out my KICKSTARTER 1-to-1 coaching program and see if it’s the right fit for you.