Some Basics: Structure; Self-care and Service

After a week of coaching post Corona (and twenty years working from home), three brief thoughts. I’m not pretending to have any answers but I hope these three suggestions help you and yours adapt to life and work in this New (very far from) Normal. Take care of your selves. This too will pass.

Structure. Virus aside, one of the biggest shifts for people this week has been the move from office to home working. All of my sessions, both 1:1 and group, have moved to Zoom, as they likely will have for you. Up to now, WFM has tended to be a bit of an opportunity to catch up with things that need doing around the house (giving the deep freeze a really good clear out; shredding your old tax returns) while still working your hours. This week, that changed. So how do you get into the way of working from home productively. The answer? Set a structure and stick to it. Which doesn’t just mean accepting all the meetings that have magically appeared in your diary as people rush to stay connected. It means the basics: 1. Figure out the three things you need to get done today (Why is it always three things? As Civil Servants say: four is too many; three is too few). 2. Prioritise them – inc doing the tough stuff first 3. Schedule when you are going to do what so that you know that if it’s 3.15 you are working on a Line Manager briefing, not having a bit of a browse on the BBC News website. Then stop when you have scheduled you are going to stop. I know this sounds like something from All I Really need to know, I learned in Kindergarten but it’s the business. And when you start to think about working at home in style (rather than just working at home), the have a look at the FT’s Edwin Heathcote’s Tips for Working from Home in Style.

Self-care. Decide what three things you will do to take care of yourself – not others – during this time. My coaching sessions this week have focused a lot on how leaders plan to support their teams, their families and their friends through the coming months. All good. But as with the oft repeated message about putting on your oxygen mask before putting an oxygen mask on your children, this is a time to schedule the self care basics into your diary – and do them. For me, it’s yoga, meditation and walking the dog. (Lord, I’m dull). I’m hoping for you it’s something a lot more exciting. Could be singing or listening to music. I’m hoping it involves walking the dog or otherwise getting out and walking about (keeping several metres apart – social distancing matters. End of). The key is to come up with things you want to do, and want to do for yourself, rather than others. Identify and do your three self care activities; schedule them into your diary (which can be i-Cal or, as in my case, handwritten on a yellow legal pad). Then Just do It.

Service. Service is an antidote to fear. We all know the way that our feelings shift when we turn from thinking about ourselves – and getting caught up in the all too many What Ifs in our lives – to thinking about others. So it’s worth asking, particularly when the anxiety kicks in (and I’ve seen a lot of anxiety on my calls this week) what you can do to help others. In particular start to think about how you can use your particular skills and experience to be of service during this crisis. As with self care, this is a muscle that needs to be used on a regular basis so getting in the way of asking the question on a regular basis will help others. And as the excellent Action for Happiness have been showing us for years, it will also help you.

Finally (for now) one of the very many things to be grateful for is that Spring is just around the corner. My thanks to the wonderful Amelia Freer for the photo above. Should you decide that this is the time for Healthy Eating (and to be honest, I’ve rarely eaten as many M&Ms as I have this week) Amelia is your