I hate to mention the ‘C’ word but when you feel like you’re losing control, losing the freedom to choose, feeling trapped and unsure of what to do next, I wonder if we should be focusing on what we can keep as normal. We are, after all, creatures of habit and with so much change being imposed upon us during these difficult times, it’s important to focus on those things we can control in order to maintain a degree of normality for our mental and physical wellbeing, let alone keeping ourselves productive.
Our response in times of change
What are you learning about yourself during this time? In times of change some of us thrive and some of us whither, and some flip flop between the two! What’s really fuelling our response? Cultural background, fear, innate strengths, character traits, individual preferences, past experiences, anxiety levels, view of risk, or something else? It reminds me of the simple CIA model which examines what you can control, influence or accept. In periods of change I often find myself asking “What can I control?” and “What do I have to accept?” It helps me to manage my response, emotionally and logically, and take the appropriate action.
I’ve been thinking about how best to use my time in self-isolation. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do most of my work from home, so I can keep that ticking over. There’s lots of on-line learning and research I’ve not had time for or prioritised recently, so I could focus on doing some of that. Plus, it might be a great excuse for some quality family time with the kids or a spot of DIY if push comes to shove. There’s always an upside!! These are the things I can control. It makes me feel more able to cope and take a more measured response to something which is, for the most part, completely out of my control.
I was working with a client today who has recently changed jobs. This is change enough in itself, but this new role also requires a very different way of working. It also happens to have coincided with the need to work from home because of the coronavirus. We talked about ways in which she could maintain her old way of life whilst embracing the new; keeping, wherever possible, a degree of normality to help her build some new productive habits. We noticed it was easy to get caught up and overwhelmed by the big stuff when it’s often the simple things that make our lives easier and help us to cope. Here’s a few ideas:
- Get dressed! – Don’t slouch around in your PJ’s just because no-ones watching! It might work for a few days, but it’s amazing what effect looking and feeling the part can actually have on your productive hours!
- Switch the walk to the station for an online exercise class or walk around the park – think about the time you spent physically active before and replace it with a different type of activity, closer to home.
- Start work at the same time every day – just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean to say your day needs to start any earlier or later than normal. Stick to your routines.
- Take regular breaks and phone a colleague/friend to catch up – replace the water cooler in the office with a phone and a bench seat in your garden… or living room!
- Adjust your working environment – lying on the sofa with a lap top balanced on your knee probably won’t work for long! Think about your workspace and adapt your environment to suit. A plant, a view, a clear desk… even think about investing in a stand-up desk if that suits you best.
- Prioritise your time – pay attention to when you’re at your best, when you’ve got the energy for the strategically important pieces and when you just need something to fill a gap or your energy is low. My obsession with the number 3 might also help you here!
So, break it down into bite sized chunks, keep it simple, keep it normal and focus on what you can control. Establish a new simple routine that can keep you grounded, when the world around you feels like it’s spinning. You’ve got this! 😊