5 Healthy Habits for Staying Sane While Working from Home
If you are working from home, you’re likely spending much of your day video conferencing or teleconferencing. It should be wonderful, shouldn’t it? No commuting, no open plan office distractions, no hot desking.
But unless you create some constructive habits when working from home, your days can quickly become a draining treadmill of calls. You come away from your workday feeling wired and strung out, with none of the decompression time that commuting would normally provide.
Here are a few healthy habits to adopt while working at home to help keep your energy up, and your coworkers boosted and upbeat.
Take a breather between calls.
It’s tempting to arrange your schedule into neat 30- or 60-minute blocks of time, but this is a quantity over quality approach. It will leave you feeling wrung out by the end of the day and strung out before the end of lockdown. It’s much better to leave five or ten minutes between each meeting to have a glass of water, refuel or go to the rest room. Sitting all day tends to box us in, so to give yourself a feeling of expansion, try putting on some music and singing along, or going outside for five minutes to soak in the day. That pause between calls will help fuel your energy. You’ll be able to listen with full focus and to engage your clients and coworkers on your calls.
Keep calls short and structured.
Don’t make the mistake of making remote meetings the same length as real-time meetings. Virtual meetings need to be short and sweet. Think of the pace of a good broadcast. In 30 minutes, topics are segmented, short and punchy. Depending on the subject matter, use different energy to keep your audience engaged.
Reset your energy after tricky calls.
People are stressed at the moment and stress can be infectious. The danger is that after one stressful call, your day spirals downward and you infect the rest of the day’s meetings with that negative energy. Stress and negative emotions can pull you down if you go from difficult call to difficult call. It’s not good for your work, your health or relationships if you get into this downward spiral. Physically re-setting your energy can really help you.
Face: A tip from psychotherapy is to move your facial muscles between meetings. If you take on the facial tension of others in difficult meetings, reset by consciously relaxing your facial muscles between meetings. This will help you to reset your emotions, too.
Body: Do some shoulder rolls and open up the breathing. Often, people hold their breath and tense their shoulders when they feel stressed. It’s also helpful to do some hip and leg stretches after sitting for long periods. When these become tight, it can trigger a flight or flight response in our bodies and voices. A short walk or stretch can shift this tension and allow you to show up relaxed and energized for the next call.
Avoid taking conflicts personally.
When you’re cooped up in your home it can start to feel as if the walls are closing in. Your sense of perspective warps, and you start to feel overwhelmed by life. Conflicts that are threatening can seem to loom over you. It probably goes all the way back to childhood. But you can adjust these inner “filters” through adopting a more positive perspective. Try to deliberately lighten up and look on the brighter side. Situations will seem less gloomy. If you feel overwhelmed or threatened, try to deliberately lessen the threat in your mind. As an antidote to stress, you can imagine looking down on difficult meetings from high above. Seeing situations from a distance can make them seem less threatening.
Offer kindness and connection.
Our working lives tend to operate in the mindset of maintaining forward momentum. Results, growth, targets and achievements drive us. And while forward momentum still matters, the pandemic has brought with it a different pace. It’s slowed down our need for results. Instead of the previous focus on moving from one task to the next, there’s also a need to look after others around us. In this challenging time, it’s important to ask others what you can do for them instead of focusing on what they can do for you. Make time for virtual huddles. Find out what people need, and how you can be of help. Try to talk through the screen with care and connection, rather than at the screen in a self-serving way.
When the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, others will remember your kindness and support during tough times when so many of us were unexpectedly working from home.
This guest post was authored by Caroline Goyder
Caroline Goyder has an international reputation as an expert speaker and trainer with senior management within organizations as well as private individuals. She worked for many years at London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama as a voice coach before launching her own company. She is regularly sought out by the media, and her extremely successful Ted Talk has had over 7.5 million viewers. Her new book is Find Your Voice: The Secret to Talking with Confidence in Any Situation (Penguin Random House UK, Jan. 30, 2020), along with previous books Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority and The Star Qualities: How to Sparkle with Confidence in All Aspects of Your Life. Visit www.carolinegoyder.com, or find her across social media: @Carolinegoyder.