Working and playing at home - a few things to consider

A few things to consider for those still getting used the oddness of working from home

April 20, 2020

Most of us had worked from home from time to time. For a minority it was business as usual. For most the full on, full-time work-at-home (and not just from home) was a shock. And not all of us like it. What's more, there was, and remains, a dread-inducing health storm going on outside the window.

Some weeks into a situation that blindsided most of us, we find that we're not just dealing with the oddity of working at home. We're doing it against the backdrop of a pandemic that has already had devastating consequences for some of us and has left others in fear of their lives. We live in a situation in which it's sort of OK one day and potentially really not OK, or horrible, the next.

So where do we begin in figuring out how to look after ourselves so that we can function? 

The health advice is still pretty clear, stay at home and work from there if you can.

The organisations that I've spoken to have done an amazing job at getting people up and running with IT, telephony and modified work processes. Some have even bought new office chairs and desks for their people.

Team leaders are Skyping, Teams-ing and Zooming as never before.

So what about the bits that you can't get out of a box? By which I mean, self care. Pre Covid-19 it was about work/life balance. Now it's about learning to live without an office to go to, without colleagues physically around us, without an imposed routine. There are many more 'withouts' but let's stop there.

Here are a few thoughts. This is not advice - that's your job. But you might take these as seeds of ideas to play with.

Time

Keep track of it. make sure you take breaks and if you're on your own, make sure that you have a reason to quit work at the end of the day.

Unfamiliar moods

If you always thought that you weren't a moody sort of person, then cut yourself some slack. You may think that everything is going fine - and you're probably doing a great job of running your life in a completely different way but don't underestimate the subtle but pervasive stress that this is placing you under. Keep doing your thing but don't be too surprised if a few things start to get you down - it's not you, it's 'it'. Adaptation is stressful - even if you find it oddly exciting.

Do something new every day

It may be small or major, but try something new. Eat something new, do a different form of exercise, don't do exercise, get up late, go to bed early, play a game with the family. Just about anything will do. Many of us gets little injections of change every day on our way to, or during, work. Taking charge of injecting some of that missing 'accidental' change can be strangely refreshing.

Make that list

You may not be a lists person (I'm definitely not by choice) but it's easy to lose track of how much you have done unless you have something to tick off. And because you are now working in an environment which wasn't meant for work, and contains all your leisure and home 'stuff' (including other people, large and small), it is so much easier to become distracted and lose any rhythm in your day. A good old fashioned to-to list (try paper if you want to go really retro) might just help to anchor you and provide a thread to join your day together with a little structure of your own.

Make something

At the beginning of lockdown I couldn't understand why I couldn't buy bread flour - or any flour for that matter. My first reaction was annoyance... people are hoarding it, I thought. Oh, all of a sudden we're a nation of bakers are we??? I bridled. This went on for some weeks and then a more charitable thought was suggested to me: that people are baking more to pass the time. Oops. Well it was true that I had seen unmarked bags of flour being sold on Amazon and e-bay for many time their proper price (I reckon cocaine was going a bit cheaper) but then again, whereas I had been making bread once a month, it had now become part of a weekly routine. And it wasn't just because I hate supermarket bread, it was because baking made me happy. It did, and continues to, satisfy a whole collection of needs too numerous to list here. Good bread is only one of them. It may not be bread that you're into, but find something and make it. And don't wait until the weekend - do it today instead of something else and then take a photo and send it to us - can't wait to see what you've done: pf@paulfurey.com

Covid-19 won't last forever but the ways in which you discover how to help yourself, might.