[As published on Female Entrepreneur Association].
Week 2 of Covid19 self-isolation and we are well into the official Lockdown, here in London.
We are all going through a time of unprecedented global uncertainties and anxiety. And unless you’ve experienced working from home before, you’re also experiencing a lot more time in and around your kitchen, than you’ve ever thought possible.
I’ve used my lounge, bedroom and garden as offices for some time, and to stay grounded without the standard office life to break up the day, I’ve come up with a guideline structure that helps me get through the #stayathome times.
Here’s how you can create a positive routine when working from home, or when forced to stay at home.
PICK THE RIGHT TIME ZONE
When the usual routine goes out of the window, and you’re all of a sudden having to spend more time at home, things can get tricky.
With a new level of flexibility, access to colleagues and clients worldwide at various hours and resources available online at any time, it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of the time of day.
You may find yourself getting up at a strange hour, eating brunch at dinner time and feeling wide awake in the middle of the night. Don’t panic. A new time zone may actually work well with your organic body and mind clock. But if you find it to be unproductive, be honest with yourself and pick a time zone that serves you best.
The 9-5 slot may be well ingrained in your programme, so sitting at your home desk by 9 may feel reassuring. But why not also test out new ways. You’re the boss. You may find your neurones come to life at dawn or become more creative later in the evening. Experiment with your time zones.
Very little beats waking up naturally, alarm-less, for a productive and happy start of a day.
CREATE A VOLUNTARY POSITIVE ROUTINE
If the idea of creating structure feels daunting and you fall into a more spontaneous type of personality who needs direction, call it a voluntary positive routine, and the game changes.
Yes, the times are uncertain, but we can still control how we react to it all. Let’s take some control back by designing our own perfect day.
Each day I make a list of the things I want or need to get done, then allocate an estimated time next to each task. Include your favourite essentials, such as meditation time, tea breaks, eating well, connecting and laughing, walking your dog, play with the kids, moving, dancing, and doing something fun and creative, etc. Basically as many things that you know will eat into your day, including procrastination habits.
The time allocation is helpful to ensure I don’t over-stretch it, which could lead to feelings of disappointment. Stop as you get to around 6-7 hours in total. We tend to underestimate how long things take. Ticking things off is rewarding and will make you feel good.
Best to over-accomplish than be left with a lot undone.
My positive routine to create the best day possible out of working from home, goes something like this:
1. WAKE UP WITH GRATITUDE:
As soon as aware of my awakening, I smile. Then I do a little 3, 2, 1…countdown and jump out of bed like a rocket. I draw the curtains, let the sunlight in and I greet my new day with a loud THANK YOU!
2. SHARE THE POSITIVITY WITH “GOOD MORNING!”:
I love wishing everyone a “good morning”. But if you don’t leave the house, it’s hard to find those opportunities. So I send a happy message or voice note to at least my dearest ones, and sometimes post it on my social, to share the positive vibes.
3. HYDRATE AND REFUEL WELL:
Before anything else, except for a mandatory trip to the loo, I rehydrate with a big glass of water, or better even warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Followed by a healthy habit of refuelling my body with organic superfood powders diluted in water or juice (www.dreammagicsuperfoodpowder.co.uk).
4. MAKE YOUR BED:
I make my bed almost as instantly as I get out of it. Even if I know I’m going back in it and might be working from there most of my day. A tidy and clear environment helps me feel better, and keeps my mind clear too. All positive ingredients for a productive day.
If you’re not into meditating yet, believe the hype. Meditation has become a daily must for me. Even if I just manage 5 to 10 minutes, preferably in the morning to set my day on fire. It helps me get into the right mindset. Bedtime is also a great opportunity to go inwards with a meditation. I enjoy Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21-day challenges and I regularly use Insight Timer or Calm.
6. MOVE YOUR BODY!
Don’t forget to move your body. It’s amazing how much movement is cut down when you don’t get out for work. There are so many new online PT training and classes. No excuses, there’s something for everybody. And while we’re still allowed to go outdoors for a daily workout, take advantage of it. Solo-dancing around the living room is also a secret hobby of mine. It sets me up with the right energy even before an important call or task.
7. CRACK ON WITH YOUR LIST:
You’re almost set to go. Grab a cup of tea or coffee, and get cracking with your awesome list. Start if you can with the least pleasant but most important and impactful items first. As you get more distracted and tired through the day, you’re more likely to still commit to those easier tasks. When you start losing focus, move to some of the more fun items: take breaks, move, walk, hydrate, meditate. Find what sparks you. And as you cross things off, big or small, celebrate achievements!
Keep a journal to take notes throughout the day: morning lists, jot down ideas, release nagging thoughts, share daily gratitude and fun moments, create new plans, what feelings come up for you, and so on. You can have different journals for different content, or use the same for everything. Journaling releases tension, keeps your thoughts organised, encourages creativity, records ideas and boosts wellbeing especially when expressing gratitude and recounting happy times.
9. STAY CONNECTED:
It’s so easy to get through to a whole day without talking to a human soul, especially if you live alone. Pets and plants are great listeners but make time to stay connected with your people too. Schedule in catch-up calls and online coffee breaks when possible. Check in with friends, family and neighbours who are also home-bound. Share tips and positivity, offer help and humour.
I can’t over emphasise the importance of self-care in any given moment, and even more so during uncertain times of pandemic lockdowns and working from home. There are many great ways you can be kind to yourself. Meditation, journaling, moving around, reading a captivating book, hot candle baths, indulging in your favourite body cream, eating a healthy yummy treat, connecting with nature, doing something funny, asking for help with anything you struggle with, etc.
CREATE VARIABLES AND NON-VARIABLES
My positive routine includes variable and non-variable elements. There are some things that I look to repeat on a daily basis and others that depend on what I need or want to get done that day. I then leave room for changes and spontaneity.
You can go creative with your list, until the non-variables of your positive routine become second nature. You could write the MUST Dos permanently on a white board for example and leave space to add the other variable tasks below. Or remind yourself of these with an acronym or mantra repeated on each page of your diary.
My daily deal-breakers include: Gratitude, Meditation, Exercise, Self-care, Connect with people, Create and have Fun.
I hope you find value in this guideline, to help you make up your own positive routine. Consider what you always wanted to experience on a perfect day in your work life. If you are new to working from home, and need help creating a happy structure that boosts your wellbeing and productively, get in touch below (or email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s work on it together. Or book a call: Programmes
LOVE & Gratitude