It goes without saying that the global pandemic has really shaken things up in a very short period. Depending on where you are in the world, your restrictions have either eased up or are still going, and honestly, it can be hard to keep up with this amount of change… unless you’re one of those people who can just roll with the punches. But let’s face it – most of us can’t do that. Well, not easily anyway. And certainly not when you’re trying to manage a family as well.
The problem isn’t the change itself. The problem is being overwhelmed. So much change in a short period of time, especially when you might not have had any ground rules in place when the changes first started, can just be too much. There’s an old saying about how it’s never wise to change jobs, your place of residence, and your romantic relationship all at the same time. Not because it can’t be done at once but because so much change all at once is mind-boggling and can quickly feel like too much to manage, which leads to you just trying to cope, and just coping isn’t usually when we’re the most productive.
So, how can we get things back on track now that you’re working from home more permanently? Do you need to set a work timetable so that your home life doesn’t creep into work? Do you need a dedicated working space? And what about the simple things like the need for getting (properly) dressed and putting on make-up, when you’re only going to be staying at home? The answer to all these questions can be summed up into four categories: Routine, Self-Care, Boundaries, and Mindset.
Routine: The key to dealing with so much change is to find your baseline – something that hasn’t or doesn’t need to change, and the basics of your morning and night routine, should stay as consistent as possible. This tricks the brain into thinking that things haven’t really changed that much, and it frees up space to think and work through other things that have changed.
If you’re a parent, think about how your children are much better at handling changes throughout their day, when they have a set routine to work with. It can be something as simple as when meals are served. Anchoring yourself in some way, makes anything different or new, not as daunting, because you have something to come back to.
Self-Care: Getting dressed and putting on makeup (or at least getting yourself presentable) in the morning… that should be part of your self-care and let’s be honest, self-care is about self-respect and self-love, and these things should never change for the worse. No matter how busy or different life gets, make sure that you have some time looking after yourself. For some, that might mean having your nails or hair done. For others, it means time to read a book or have a cup of coffee without interruption. Whatever it is, it should remain, because you’re doing it for yourself and for your own sanity and wellbeing. You can’t look after others properly if you haven’t had the time to stop and take care of yourself.
Boundaries: These are more important than ever. If you’re like most people, you’ve spent the last year or so, working the longest hours you’ve ever worked, because you’re not spending time commuting since you’re already at home. Or because your computer is within arm’s reach and responding to that last email “won’t take long” but you find yourself doing another few hours of work.
If you haven’t come to an agreement with your boss already on your working hours or online availability is, sort it out now. Do it in a way that makes it work for you. Do you always have to start at 8am? Can it only be a few days a week, with a later start on other days? Can you finish early on some days and make up for it on others? Can you add in a long break in the middle of the day so that you have proper time to exercise or tend to your family? Don’t forget to block out time in your day for lunch and a break or two.
Remember, if you were in the office, you’d have a mini break every time you walked between meeting rooms, so add them in, instead of just rushing from one call to the next and not having time for a bathroom break! Personally, I use my breaks to put another load of washing on, fold the clothes, or do a quick meal prep. Yes, it’s still doing work, but it’s different work that helps me break up my day and keep on top of the household chores.
And whilst on the topic of boundaries, do try and have a dedicated working area, where possible. It not only sets a mental boundary for you that allows you to be in work mode, it also lets the rest of your household know that when you’re sitting at your desk, you’re working and disturbances should be kept to a minimum. But when you do walk away from your desk at the end of your workday, don’t be tempted to go back to it. Close the laptop, turn off the computer. Switch your mind into “home” mode and focus on being at home.
Mindset: At the end of the day, change and adapting to the transition is all in your head. It’s about how you perceive it. For example, you don’t have to spend the time (and money) commuting to and from work, so you have extra time in the mornings and evenings, and you’re saving money. Win-win right?
Well, maybe… Maybe that means that you’re not getting that alone time or thinking time that you had when commuting. However, you now have the choice to do something else to fill in that time. You might choose to start work earlier and use that extra time later in your day for a longer lunch break or add it to the end of your day to spend more time with your family or something else. Same goes for the routine you used to have on buying coffee in the morning on the way to work. On one hand, you’re saving money, but on the other hand, you’re not having impromptu conversations with the barista or others at the coffee shop. How you choose to view every situation is up to you.
Overall, it’s all about adapting to the circumstances that we now find ourselves in. There are no right or wrong ways to do things; The information provided here are guidelines for you, to help make the transition easier and allow you to separate work and home life. But you need to do what works best for you.
Start slowly and try things out. Know that some days will be better than others and that’s okay. Just don’t go searching for the normal that was because it was an illusion anyway. There is no normal – there never was. What you perceived as normal was a baseline that you created and accepted. So, if you did it before, you can do it again.
If you made a change that really helped you AND OR your family during the lockdown I’d love to hear from you…
About The Author
After overcoming some major life challenges on her own, Ana Angelique believes that others shouldn’t have to struggle in silence; Life is complex enough… but it is also beautiful, and it should be enjoyed.
She has had a successful and extensive corporate career working for large international companies, start-ups and everything in-between, across many different industries, which has equipped Ana with an insider’s perspective on the pressures and challenges of various high profile corporate environments. With roles involving frequent travel, she has worked in many cities around the world, and with people from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds.
As a wellbeing life coach and mentor, Ana’s positive approach to life, her captivating and addictive energy and her creative thinking, enable her to empower her clients to take charge of their future and regain control. Thought-provoking, persuasive, and inspirational, Ana has natural teaching abilities and is known for her unique perspective on situations.
When not working, Ana spends some of her time as a volunteer youth mentor, but on weekends, you’ll find Ana spending time outdoors with her three children, creating adventures wherever they go.
Instagram: https:// www.instagram.com/yourtruenorth_au