WINNING THE ‘WORK FROM HOME’ CHALLENGE
Workhours had spiraled out of control and he was ready to quit. So many executives are currently stuck in the annoying ‘work from home trap’ and are seeking ways to free themselves
Recently, I was surprised to meet an old client over a Skype counselling session, transformed from his usual composed self, into a deeply distressed and angry being. He felt pushed to the limits by his boss, with repeated innuendos about the perils of non-performance, and an absolute disregard for boundaries. Workhours had spiraled out of control and he was ready to quit. So many executives are currently stuck in the annoying ‘work from home trap’ and are seeking ways to free themselves. How can we do this better, is the chorus I keep hearing. So, here are my top 5 suggestions to win at this challenge.
1. CREATE SPATIAL DISTINCTIONS
Our mind follows the principle of association, which is why, if you work from your bedroom, you are likely to have trouble falling asleep there, because your mind associates it with work, not rest. This is why you must assign different areas as office and home, strictly occupying the allocated workspace only during office hours, so that your mind can leave the office and go home. If you don’t have enough room for spatial segregation, I suggest you psychologically trick the mind by moving furniture around your room to make it look and feel different by day and after office hours. I have temporarily been assigned the bedroom to work from, so I use a collapsible table and workday set up, which I stash away at night, to trick my mind spatially. Trust me, it works.
2. FOLLOW THE 90/10 POWER BREAK PRINCIPLE
Every 90 minutes, your brain experiences the ultradian rhythm, slipping from highest to lowest attention, needing a break. This is why, following the 90/10 principle is so useful. Giving yourself a 10-minute endorphin high by exercising, or a dopamine shot, will make your mind go back to work, feeling renewed. Dopamine is released by your body when you do something good or are rewarded, so acknowledge or compliment your family, friend or colleague, and if you are lucky, you might just hear it echo back. Being at office naturally activated these feel good hormones, allowing you to take intermittent breaks when you could walk over to a colleagues table to chat briefly or share a cup of coffee. This interaction kept you networked, updated and informed. It permitted healthy exchange of thoughts which sparked new ideas, helped you learn new skills and give each other valuable, feel good strokes. The present challenge is, how do you make those short 10-minute breaks at home, give you even half as much? I suggest you prepare a handy list of your ‘10 minutes to bliss” activities. Listen to your favorite instrumental tracks, prepare a cup of coffee, do some stretches or brain gym cross-crawls, make a quick check in call to a friend, or simply do whatever lifts you up instantly, but always remember to get up and walk.
3. CURATE GUILTFREE “ME TIME’
With boundaries and responsibilities blurring between official and domestic responsibilities, attention to self is easy to lose sight of. A good way to re-negotiate this with your own mind is to calculate the amount of time you earlier spent commuting back and forth from work, and setting aside this guilt-free time, solely for your own interests. This way, you do not steal any time away from other responsibilities. Whether you wish to absentmindedly browse your social media, pamper yourself with a self-initiated home spa, binge watch Netflix, call people you love, or just browse through old photographs that bring a smile to your face, choose to chill without the guilt.
4. UPGRADE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF
There appears to be immense pressure to upgrade skills and pack in as much as possible, because everyone seems to be saying that this time will never be available again. Add to that the fierce competitive display of talent on social media and one can quite easily drown in shame and unworthiness. I believe, the aspects that really need an upgrade at this time, are those that lie in our shadows. Shadows are rejected aspects of ourselves that we have disowned. This seems an apt time to embrace and integrate these aspects of our consciousness, to enhance our self-acceptance and sense of wholeness. So, if you are an overachiever, you need to prioritize rest and recuperation (which you probably find impossible to do). If you are given to procrastination, you need to push yourself to do whatever has been long pending. If you can’t cook to save your life, inspire yourself to join the home cooks or home baker’s bandwagon. Do whatever will enhance your relationship with yourself, for that upgrade will be truly meaningful.
5. NURTURE YOUR EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
High periods of stress can bring up old wounds and vulnerabilities, and these must be lovingly addressed instead of being overlooked, brushed under the carpet, or repressed. Choose to shut out psychologically damaging consumption such as disturbing news, negative self-talk and self-judgment. If fears about job loss are becoming obsessive, talk about your insecurities to someone you feel safe with. Whenever your mind is conflicted about doing something, use the simple litmus test of asking yourself, will doing this make me feel better or worse, and then follow your intuition. If you are unable to cope with your challenges, reach out and seek counsel or support. Don’t shy away, don’t hide, don’t pretend to be brave or hope your difficult feelings will vanish on their own. Talk about your concerns. Remember, being vulnerable and asking for help are signs of an emotionally self-aware, responsible, intelligent and courageous person.
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