Due to the COVID-19 lockdown happening in many places in the world, many people are now being forced to work from home for the first time, adjusting to a new kind of reality.
It’s a difficult time for many, but also an opportunity to grow and change, and take something positive from it.
I’ve been working independently for over ten years now. I’ve learned to love working from home. I have also done several adventure expeditions where I have been in small groups without contact to family and friends. And I’ve written books, which have involved spending time working completely alone and isolated from others for weeks at a time.
Here are some thoughts on not just getting through isolation, but thriving. I’m a different, more balanced, person to who I was ten years ago, partly because of these experiences. I think that so much good comes out of difficulty that we all have a chance to grow and to thrive.
4 tips each on the practicalities of home-working and on emotional well-being:
- Morning routine – get up, get dressed, have breakfast. Make a proper start; don’t just drift.
- Anchor points – have some things in your day that are done at similar times each day and give it structure. For me, the simplest is food—breakfast, morning tea break, lunch, afternoon tea break, dinner. These are my anchor points and activities fit within this structure.
- Fresh air and exercise – get outside every day if you can, even if it’s just walking around the garden for ten minutes. Move. Breathe.
- Purpose – have goals, whether they are work or personal. Working towards something and making progress gives you a sense of purpose, which is more important than ever in a time of isolation. Even if it is just tidying the house.
- Connect – keep in touch with loved ones or colleagues where possible. Phone, text, video-conferencing, old-style letter… anything and everything! Talking is good.
- Enliven – do things that brighten your day and make you laugh, even if you’re alone. I sing songs I love, dance around the kitchen, laugh at videos of my nephews…. Remember what makes you happy.
- Enrich – take some time to feed your mind or your soul, whether that’s reading, listening to TED talks or walking in nature and noticing the tiniest things. Discover new resources.
- Detach – take the opportunity of mental space. Allow yourself to do nothing sometimes except let your mind wander. It will settle on things that are most important to you.
Working efficiently alone is a very personal thing. Everyone is different. Listen to your body and brain to find schedules that work for you (and your family).
Many of the “activities” fitting within your anchor-point structure won’t be productive work or exercise or well-being activities. They will be practical too, like running the household, home-schooling/entertaining children, etc. That’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up about down-time. Many of the well-being activities can be combined with practicalities. As long as you’re making progress towards your goals you’re doing ok.
Do share your own thoughts and tips about getting through challenging times. Let’s help each other through!
This is the office in the woods where I wrote my last book. I left the house once a week (except for walks). Listen to the audio below of the wind chimes in the morning. I loved them. It’s the little things that make us smile that matter.