‘You will know the good from the bad when you are calm, at peace’ said Yoda. But right now, the good stuff seems to be in short supply. And in the middle of all this upset, it can become increasingly difficult to stay calm, either because of the distractions caused by family or flatmates, or missing the banter of colleagues.
It’s important to find that calm. And we have a few tips for doing just that.
Keep up your daily routine
You’ve seen all the jokes and memes about day one of homeworking (shirt, tie, sparkling smile) compared to day nine (ripped t-shirt, dressing gown). Don’t fall into that trap. The world is still setting the standards for Zoom etiquette, but it’s pretty much universal that turning up looking like something washed up on the beach is a no-no.
Even if you’re not participating in video standups, the familiarity of your daily routine can be a strong anchor. Get up at the same time, shower, dress, have your morning coffee and be out of the metaphorical door on time. You’ll find yourself switching into work mode – but without the stress of your daily commute. And on that note…
Enjoy the extra time you have
Despite the fact that your normal commute involves three different transit systems and a whole host of excuses as to why they’re not running properly, you find yourself missing it. Why?
It’s because even if your commute isn’t all that pleasant, the change in scenery breaks your day up more than walking from the kitchen to your home desk. But now that time is all yours, so build in a fake commute: spend that hour or so reading a book, listening to Spotify or exercising.
This creates a subtle – but important – shift. By bookending your work like this, it’s no longer the reason you’re getting out of bed, it becomes just one component of your day.
Train yourself to let go
At the moment information is pouring out thick and fast – from news items to ‘helpful’ email updates from the CEO of that gym whose membership you cancelled six years ago. And it’s all raising your anxiety levels about a situation over which you have no control – and impacting your productivity.
It’s not easy, but try to put your phone away, close those tabs on your browser, and stick to your business-orientated communication channels. Don’t forget to turn those off from time to time as well if you want to get some work done. You’re in control.
Be sure to rest
Yes, we mean breaks. You’d have breaks during your normal day for lunch or coffee, and it’s a good idea to keep those up. Resist the temptation to try and hammer through the day non-stop: take your breaks at your normal time. Be sure to add some more to your daily routine. You need them.
Get away from your desk and enjoy your lunch – which, given that you’re not relying on a soggy sandwich from the supermarket, is now a lot more pleasurable. Take your time preparing meals, take the dog for a walk, brew some coffee – but take that time out.
Be stressed – but at the right times
It’s generally accepted that stress is the headline act in the working day. That’s okay, as long as that stress is manageable and focused.
Compartmentalizing your worry is something that you do without thinking normally – during the day your pain points revolve around company objectives, in the evening it might shift to trying to pretend you can actually help your kid with their math homework. But when they try and share the same stage, your focus goes out the window.
Accept those stresses as part of your working and non-working day. Okay, they might now be sharing the same dressing room – but they have to perform at different times.
Remember what really matters
You’ve always moaned about how your job gives you no time with your family – now you have the opportunity to put that right. If you’d normally spend your coffee break watching dashcam videos or your commute doing Sudoku, share that time instead with your loved ones.
When this situation passes, chances are you’ll look back fondly on these days when your work wasn’t robbing you of bonding time with your family.
Do what’s right for you (whatever the internet tells you)
What about meditation? Or yoga? Or Tai Chi?
The web is packed with ways to find inner peace, and all of them work… for some people. But you don’t suddenly become a yoga master, and there’s no spiritual boot camp that will teach you to meditate in ten minutes.
Everybody’s situation is unique, and everybody’s path to calmness is unique. Some or all of these suggestions might work for you, but the most important thing is to realise that staying calm is important – embrace that fact and you’re halfway there.