We find ourselves in unprecedented times. At the time of writing this article I have emails streaming into my inbox, cancelling everything from holidays, children’s activities to work meetings and commitments. It is a very unsettling time for us all and with the very real possibility that schools will also close on the horizon, I am trying to think about how I could help my clients and small business community. With this in mind I wanted to share some tips on how to work from home whilst continuing to try to be productive. I have also asked the brilliant Tricia Wilkie from The Mind Hub to share some of her wisdom to help encourage positive mental wellbeing in these challenging times.
So, if you find yourself with your office closed, cancelled meetings and unusually you are now at home, we wanted to share some thoughts on how to work from home and be productive:
1. Pretend you are going to the office. With my current business structure I am predominately based at home and one of the things I find really important is to define and keep to a routine. Think about what your day might look like if you were going into the office or being out and about and try to mirror it. I still get up, get dressed and work to the hours I would as if I were in the office. Whilst I put the odd wash on, I try very hard not to be distracted by home tasks.
2. Structure your day as if you were in the office. Think about the hours that you usually work. It is also really important to ensure you take breaks and time for lunch, to enable you to keep focused and healthy. If you have children at home off school this is going to be an increased challenge but also providing them with a routine will help them to keep focused. Whilst you may not be as productive as usual, hopefully you will all continue to do some work/ school work respectively.
3. Keep speaking to people. Whilst the current advice is that we should avoid social contact, we are social creatures of habit, keeping in contact with others is important. We are really lucky that we have technology in place within today’s digital world that can still facilitate us continuing to achieve this. Holding online meetings or calling people will help us to stay connected, using tools such as Face Time, Zoom, Microsoft Team or Skype can help facilitate this.
4. Create a dedicated work space. If you are not used to working from home, try to find a space where you can set out your files and tools you need to work and be comfortable. It also makes it easier to walk away from this space at the end of the day when you shut down.
5. Take time to plan. Planning what you hope to achieve in the day is really important. Don’t try to do to much and if you are able, share with colleagues to help you commit to tasks and hold you accountable. If you are a small business owner and find yourself with reduced work coming in or things changing with client work, take advantage and work on your business. From a marketing perspective you could think about reviewing or writing your marketing strategy; content planning and write blogs; plan your future email marketing and social media campaigns. How can you prepare for when things change and open up again? The government’s advice as of yesterday (16 March) is to continue to exercise, as long as you don’t come into contact with others, if this is important to you, ensure you plan to go for an early morning or end of day walk, run or bike ride.
6. Don’t get distracted with social media. Social media now, more than ever will be important to help us stay connected and prevent us from becoming isolated. However, it can also be a big distraction. Be clear on your deliverables for the day and ensure you limit the amount of time you spend on the social media sites. To ensure we maintain a good work/ life balance one recommendation is to turn your phone to black and white, making it less appealing to look at.
7. Work when you are most productive. Everyone works better at different times of the day, some are morning birds and others night owls. Knowing when you are at your most productive and saving the big tasks for then, will help you to work through your ‘to do’ list and ensure you achieve all that you wanted to.
8. Wellbeing. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is also important in these uncertain times and below Tricia from The Mind Hub kindly shares her tips to help keep you on track:
a. Be less judgemental of your feelings. It is OK not to be OK, to admit and acknowledge your emotions, try as best you can not to be driven by them.
b. Uncertainty can lead to anxious and worrying thoughts, it is helpful to be more aware of when these thoughts arrive so you can choose to refocus on whatever activity you are doing, thus reducing their impact.
c. When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, your body will give you signals. Don’t ignore them, use them as a trigger to ask yourself what is it that you need in that moment?
d. Pause regularly for a mindful moment to check-in with how you are doing physically and mentally. Taking these small breaks will hep you to release some pressure throughout the day, maintain your performance and a healthy state of wellbeing. Try setting a regular reminder and listen to the short F.O.F.B.O.C (Feet on Floor Body on Chair) mindful-based practice (scroll half way down the page).
e. To feel less isolated and more connected with the world around you, go outside for a mindful walk each day and be fully present to what you can feel, see, hear, smell and even taste. If you are self-isolating, getting out into the garden or at least opening the window will be beneficial.
To help de-stress and feel connected during times of social distancing, why not join Skype-based mindfulness drop-in sessions, guided by Tricia Wilkie of The Mind Hub, get in touch to discover more.
I wanted to wrap up by saying keep safe, don’t feel isolated and keep in touch. If you are stuck and not sure where to focus your marketing energies or how to prepare for when things begin to return to normal, I have opened up some 1:1 Zoom sessions, where I will be able to answer any marketing questions which you may have. Please get in touch to discover more.