Remote working tips: How to shift your mindset to make it work

An increasing number of companies are asking that their employees shift to remote working in the “Delay” phase of the Coronavirus. So how can we go about creating the right mental office when working remotely?

Maybe you’ve already experienced short stints of occasional windows of home working. Or perhaps with the Coronavirus the concept of remote working is completely new to you.

The bottom line is, we don’t know how long we will all be remote working for, which adds an extra level of complexity to the whole notion of home working.

Parents will face a particularly unique challenge if and when schools close, as they struggle to find time to squeeze in work and possibly home school, should they decide to go down that route. In this post, we share our remote working tips, and insights into how you can shift your mindset to make it work.

The challenges of remote working

The ability to master certain skills to successfully work from home is vital. This will all feed into our ability to be more productive, meet tight deadlines, and manage emails.

Dealing with setbacks and scheduling enough sleep when you literally take your work home with you are just some of the challenges of working in isolation.

The other thing to remember is our bodies are programmed to be cautious of change, such as a new environment.

Tune into your rhythms

When remote working, try to tune into your biological rhythms and work when you feel most energetic — whilst trying to strike a happy balance between regular clock time and personal “rhythmic time”.

Having a ticking clock on the wall is not helpful as it puts more weight on linear time. This may be helpful to make deadlines but can stifle creativity.

Give yourself permission to employ both methods of time and value each. You should also start work sessions with the big creative tasks when you’re most energised and attend to emails and finer detail later.

Carve out your space

A successful home office has a lot to do with understanding the challenges of working on your own. Creating a designated pleasant space is the easy bit; embracing the right mindset is the real challenge, along with a comfy chair.

Once it’s established that you’re home all the time, friends and family start to ask if you “could do them a favour in the middle of the day.” Which is why, if you want to successfully work from home, you need to declare war on distractions.

Setting up a home office and being disciplined enough to work from home is not as straightforward as getting an ergonomic chair and a “do not disturb” sign. It is important to set aside a specific space in your home that will serve as your office. If you are blessed enough to already have an actual home office, that is great.

Shared living spaces can get noisy, so if your workspace isn’t isolated from common areas – we recommend getting some noise-cancelling headphones to signal to others that you’re not to be disturbed and to avoid getting drawn into conversations that are going to distract you while you’re on deadline.

If not, a good home office can be as simple as the kitchen table or the flexible corner of a room as long as you can focus on the task and limit distractions, acknowledging that there’ll be plenty of them.

Not only will this help you get into the right mindset when your workday begins, but, it will help you to leave your work behind when you need to switch gears and focus on your family life or personal time.

Have the right attitude

In order to work effectively on your own, there can be no doubt that self-motivation is the key to productivity when remote working. No matter how great you think working from home is or how beautiful a space you create, to be successful in any home business you must still find a way to discuss your ideas with others.

Having clear expectations from your boss and team – and clear communication with them and knowing exactly what’s expected of you – is vital. Remember, this is still a real job – just because you can lounge around in your pjs doesn’t mean you actually should!

The psychological effects of working from home

Within the first few months of your work-to-home transition, you’ll notice to start feeling emotionally and mentally fried, since there is no physical separation between work and home. You might hold a Type A personality that just stays in go mode. You might tune out or disengage from your family because replaying in your mind a difficult client call you had that day or rehearsing the conference call you’re going to be facilitating the next day.

You might soon realize missing the psychological and emotional closure you had experienced at the office when shutting down the computer, turning off the light, and heading home for the day. By setting aside an official office space in your home, you can make it a point to shut down shop physically and psychologically once your workday is done.

Establishing your working hours

One of the biggest factors is how your perception of time may change. In the corporate world you’re expected to turn up “on time”, head off for lunch between 1pm and 2pm, then “clock off” in time to catch the right bus or train. This highly regulated scaling of time is a relatively new phenomenon. In the past we managed time according to the seasons or daylight hours. Our working days were governed by nature as opposed to trains, buses and “office hours”.

Setting a defined work schedule will help you while transitioning to home office. Because your office is so convenient and located literally a few steps away from your bedroom, you may be tempted to maximise time by popping in before everyone is awake to check a few emails, or, hopping online after dinner to finish up a quick proposal, or staying online until midnight so you could finish up etc..Before you know it you’re working 12-15 hours a day during the workweek and several hours on most weekends.

Just as conventional workplaces have basic hours of operation, it is important for you, your family, your colleagues, clients and vendors to establish when you will be workingand when you won’t. Of course this will vary greatly depending on the work you are doing, number of hours per week that you are working, the level of accessibility you need to have for your family and/or your work.

Having a work schedule and trying to stick to it helps to establish a healthier separation between work and life. Set office hours and be sure to create a time slot for each of the day’s activities. This helps with communicating to others when your work-time and play-time is. If you have small children you may need to schedule your work around their naps, homeschooling and another caregiver’s schedule, so that you can have a good chunk of time to work uninterrupted.

Getting away from your desk

It’s much harder to shut down for the day when your “office” is where you live. There’s no night-time cleaning crew that comes to empty out the trash to signal that you’ve been burning the midnight oil.

You have to decide when to call it quits for the day. Because sooner or later, trying to jam in another task at the end of the day can rob you of your sanity.

Limit the number of times you check e-mail. You might find yourself constantly checking e-mail because you’re worried about being out of the loop—but while it’s important to stay connected, spending too much time on e-mail might distract you from more important tasks.

Which is why it’s important to make stepping away from your desk a regular habit. Whether it’s a short walk, a trip to the gym, or taking an afternoon yoga class, exercise can help keep your mind sharp when you work from home. It also helps you strike the perfect work-life balance.

Remember the 3 pillars of work life balance which are:

Rest – it’s your job to shut down for the day. Set an alarm to tell you when to stop.

Exercise – take a walk in the middle of the day to clear your mind.

Social – working from home can feel isolating. If self-isolating atm from the virus then the option is to schedule a virtual weekly video call with your team or friends etc.

Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit, built a healthy eating habit while working for The New York Times. His approach was unconventional in that it started with chocolate.

Chocolate triggers reward centers in your brain and makes you want to do things you normally procrastinate on. You can use the same exact principle to make exercise a habit. Watch the video below to see how you can put it into action as you work from home:

Setting proper expectations with your family

Take some time to really think about what you are going to need to be successful in your work during this period, what you are going to be able to realistically accomplish in your home, and then sit down to discuss the expectations accordingly with your family.

Are there particular times when you cannot be disturbed? What is an acceptable volume level for the house when you are working? What is off-limits while you are working?

Everyone has their assumptions about how this work at home arrangement is going to pan out, and unfortunately, they can sometimes be quite different.

Your other half may have some misguided expectations about what your home is going to look like or what sort of food would be cooking for dinner once you have started to work from home. You’ll probably have to explain to them that in this particular situation, your day hasn’t changed at all that drastically. Read: pretty much consumed with work the majority of the day and when you have a few extra moments between calls or tasks, they are usually spent reconnecting with yourself or kids.

Sit down and discuss what the expectations are, what you could realistically accomplish, and make some adjustments. Communicate your work schedule to friends and family that you’re working and ask them not to call you unless it is urgent. Make your office hours known and clear to the family, and make sure they respect your working hours. Don’t be afraid to defend your work time. Some will think that since you work from home, you can do whatever you like.

Our nationwide shift towards remote working is going to be a great challenge as we try to juggle the needs of work, family, homeschooling and self-care. As one of the great social experiments of our times under the watch of the Coronavirus, we hope you find these remote working tips useful. We will be posting more remote working tips on our Self Love Today LinkedIn page over the period so be sure to follow us there.


cultivating resilience

Cultivating resilience in uncertain times: Part two

Welcome to the the second part of our series on cultivating resilience in uncertain times. If you missed the first part, then catch up here. In this article, we share our insights on how you can develop healthy coping skills and nurture your resilient human spirit. These are both elements that will help to bolster your resilience in times of doubt like these.

Healthy coping skills

Self-care practices build our reserves and give us the mental and physical energy to cope when things get tough. Think of it like this – investing time and energy to build healthy self-care practices is like investing money in the bank so that it is there when you need to draw on it.

In times of stress, carving out time to care of yourself is even more important – even though often it’s the first thing we let fall to the wayside.

You can cultivate healthy coping skills by including some of the self-care practices we outline below in your life.

  • Surrounding yourself with trusted friends and advisors
  • Using humour where possible
  • Practising deep breathing
  • Learning to observe your emotions,

Typically, when people stop using healthy coping mechanisms, they start using unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drinking, smoking or drugs. These unhealthy coping mechanisms can create more problems than the issues they are trying to resolve.

If you find yourself turning to these unhealthy coping mechanisms, it’s an important sign you need to amp up your self-care practices and start using some of your healthier coping skills.

The importance of self-care in cultivating resilience

Self-care means maintaining your energy reserves by regularly taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental needs. This is essential to staying healthy and strong in an enduring way.

Take a moment to consider how many of the following self-care practices you currently make time for in your life? Are you happy with the amount of self-care in your life? Or perhaps do you need to make time for more self-care?

  • Exercise
  • Breathing
  • Meditation/mindfulness
  • Eating healthily
  • Taking time to relax
  • Devoting time to your spiritual practice of choice
  • Keeping a positive mindset
  • Spending time with loves ones
  • Setting appropriate boundaries
  • Participating in activities that lift you up instead of holding you back
  • Sleep!

Maintaining equanimity

Equanimity can be defined as “evenness of mind” or “mental composure.” Ideally, you want to be able to maintain a state of mental calmness, even in the midst of challenging situations.

The ability to maintain equanimity is something you can cultivate through practices like meditation, breathing, mindfulness, and yoga.

True equanimity is found in learning to ride the waves of life with a sense of openness and curiosity – all of which are key in cultivating a resilient mindset.

Doing so requires learning to manage your emotional states and maintain a healthy connection between body and mind. This can be hard for some people to do at first, which is where practices like meditation, mindfulness, breathing and yoga come in.

Support and connection with others

Having a support system and a healthy connection with others can really be an important factor when cultivating resilience. Knowing you have people you can lean on for support and that you can reach out to them—both in good times and in moments when you need help—is essential for thriving in times of adversity.

Having people in your life you can trust can provide a tremendous sense of courage and freedom to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. Moreover, a healthy community provides a sense of security and comfort in an uncertain world.

Sometimes, individuals want to only be the person who helps other people, but it is also extremely important to be someone who is authentic and vulnerable about the times when you need help.

When you are honest about your reality, you open the door for others to be vulnerable and authentic as well. This is the place where true connection occurs.

Remember – there is tremendous freedom in being honest and being able to both give and receive help.

Having a proactive world view

Though it can be easy to feel like a powerless victim in a massive, often violent and confusing world, there is one thing you can affect: your perspective and state of mind. No one can take this away from you.

You may not be able to change situations, but you always have the ability to change how you respond to situations. It is important to be deeply grounded in your own personal truths while at the same time having psychological flexibility to adapt to changes that are constantly arising.

A balance between the two can help you feel that you are safe in yourself and that you also have the ability to adapt and adjust in the face of new information. When you combine that with a sense of perseverance and determination, you can completely change the way you approach adversity in your life.

Having a positive sense of self

Unfortunately, many people pin their identities on their outside persona, which is a vulnerable place to put one’s sense of self-worth. For example, if someone ties her self-worth to her career, a professional setback could destroy her sense of self-worth.

Cultivating a healthy sense of self requires actively learning to listen to and loving yourself. Having a healthy sense of self-worth is built upon understanding who you are on the inside, having a connection with yourself, and spending regular time cultivating that connection through activities like meditation and mindfulness.

The resilient human spirit

When a baby comes out of the womb, the baby already knows how to nurse. This is a survival instinct that is carried through genetic material. Be mindful of the fact there are universal principles to strengthen resilience that span centuries, continents, and cultures.

These principles are a part of people’s individual and collective histories and can be found in human physiology and throughout societies.

While you may have been immersed in these elements your entire life, you can strengthen your resilience by understanding this inheritance that has been passed down through the ages and that still provides support today.

Instinct

Instinct plays an important role in dealing with adversity. Your instincts involve your inborn behaviours, thought patterns, and ways of being that are not learned.

When a problem arises, for many people, their perception of the problem is the biggest obstacle. People know how to deal with adversity, but they may have forgotten or have narrowed their perspective to such a degree that they can’t see the big picture.

When you calm your brain down and learn to be present and mindful in the moment, you can learn to connect with a deeper instinct of how you are feeling and how those around you are feeling as well. The natural answer of what you need to do in each moment is always present if you are able to get perspective and listen for the answer.

Deep listening

The Australian Aboriginals have a word, dadirri, that translates as “deep listening.” It’s based upon the notion that people are constantly trying to create balance and harmony both inside themselves and in the surrounding world.

The Aboriginals practice dadirri both as a meditation and as an approach to ordinary interactions in daily life, constantly aiming to bring balance between the inner world and outer world.

When the Aboriginals have a problem, they listen for the answer. When they perceive illness or emotional upset in themselves, another person, or the world around them, they look for where they are not connecting with the whole to discover where disharmony or unease is occurring. They then listen for how they can help bring balance to the situation and let their actions reflect this.

Here’s something to try: Next time you feel an overwhelming sense of adversity – as in current times – rather than being swept up in the chaos around you, instead try listening for the answer.

We hope you found these insights useful. For more information about how our resilience workshops can support your employees, get in touch at info@selflove.today


Cultivating resilience in uncertain times: Part one

With concerns growing over the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, there is a huge amount of uncertainty in these times. You may not only be concerned about your own health and that of those around you but also your job security, procedures at your workplace and so on. It’s likely you’ve felt uneasy, frustrated, anxious or even down about the recent turn of events.

In these times, cultivating resilience can be a helpful strategy. In our two-part guide to cultivating resilience, we outline the steps you can take to cultivate resilience to help you both in the workplace and all other aspects of your life in these unpredictable times.

What is resilience?

Resilience can be defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Our resilience, or capacity to bounce back and even thrive in pressured times, is critical in workplaces today, especially in these uncertain times.

With higher workloads, declining resources, frequent change, and now the new threat of the Coronavirus – together with the hectic pace of personal lives, resilience is key to keeping your head above water.

While strategies to build resilience have long been of interest in the arenas of parenting, education and disaster recovery, less focus has been placed on how these ideas can be translated into building resilient workplaces.

However, with recent events – first Brexit, now the Coronavirus – cultivating resilience in the workplace has never been more important.

The benefits of cultivating resilience in the workplace

Resilient people are more optimistic, adaptable and independent. They are also better at solving problems and have sound levels of self-control.

Meanwhile, resilient teams have similar characteristics, and find it easier to rebound from setbacks and adapt to change and pressure. All of these characteristics can be developed with the right know-how.

The role of core values

Core values are the bedrock of resilience. If you haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about what your core values are, try doing so. It can help to spend time really feeling why these values matter as well as how they are brought to life through your actions.

Living close to your core values can be a very clarifying and strengthening experience. It can also make life easier. Then next time you are faced with a big decision, you can use your core values as a touchstone: Which choice best honours your core values?

Core values can also help you define your purpose in life. They can empower the roles you play in life, whether as a parent, a community member, or an employee.

Finding meaning in adversity

Viewing adversity as an opportunity is what takes people out of the victim mentality and empowers them to be survivors and makers of change.

Traumas in life are defined by a loss of control or a shattering of one’s former paradigm. This may be how you are feeling with the current global state of affairs. However, struggles can force you to engage with life’s most important questions. Your suffering can make you compassionate and give you the opportunity to care and feel deeply.

Try sitting with a belief that instead of life happening to you, life is happening for you. Welcoming alleviates suffering and the most resilient among us find a way to fight by embracing the uncertainty or adversity we might be facing. As humans, we are programmed to fight against adversity, instead, try accepting the battle.

In the second part in our resilience series, we share how to cultivate healthy coping skills and a resilient human spirit. In the meantime we hope you found these insights useful. For more information about how our resilience workshops can support your employees, get in touch at info@selflove.today