It might surprise you to find that I’m not going to tell you much about how to start work… although I will end up there. This is because what you do before you start your work day is so important no matter where you are working but at this time of ‘lockdown’ it feels doubly important to get the start of the day right. Like it or not having to work in a new way will bring additional anxiety and stress. So here we go..
Get up at the same time you normally would.
Keeping a regular bed time and a regular getting up time fuels good sleep. You should have a pattern that you sustain 7 days a week and should aim to go to bed between 10 and 10.30 and get up between 6 and 6.30. These times are in tune with your body’s natural rhythm. There’s a real risk that in avoiding the commute you use the time to sleep later. This isn’t good for you and there are some much better things you can do to set yourself up for the day.
Make your bed
Small wins are powerful motivators. Every small thing you achieve gives you a little dopamine hit (our feel good chemical) so starting your day by achieving making your bed gets you off to a good start. Also, when it comes to bed time and you go to climb into a nicely made bed it is a satisfying feeling. It will take you a couple of minutes and means you’ve started your day by completing your first task.
Avoid your phone
Don’t start your day with your devices. To be honest I wouldn’t normally say this. I usually have a check of facebook and twitter early in my day, but, at the moment, working from home, you are likely to be locked to tech all day in Teams meetings or replying to emails, and the like. Tech drains us. Eradicate unnecessary tech to avoid tired eyes and a tired brain. Set yourself a little time aside to indulge yourself in the latest meme at the end of the day.
I know for definite that if I start the day with some light physical activity it sets me up for the day. I know that I feel more switched on, alert, and able to get into flow. It doesn’t have to be a great deal. I do two things on a morning. I go through a yoga stretching routine to wake my body up and then take the dog for a brisk walk. It will energise you. Also, getting outside on a morning, if you can do so safely at the minute, sets in motion a process that ends with a good nights sleep. The exposure to daylight early in the day sets off a biological process that ends with quality shut eye.
Eat and hydrate
Start with a good breakfast. If you’re having trouble fitting everything in make some overnight oats the night before and then all you do is grab them from the fridge and you’re sorted. But really how long does it take to make some toast or have some cereal. Start the day with something.
Try to get a glass of water in early as you dehydrate while you are asleep. I always have coffee early on a morning. Just go careful with how much you drink as you will have a coffee slump later on. Avoid managing the coffee slump with more coffee. I have two coffee slots first thing in the morning and early after lunch. Strategic coffee drinking! Outside of these times if I feel like reaching for a coffee I go for water and a quick walk – even just around the house. I find, if nothing else, it distracts me, and often hydrating with the water takes the craving away. It’s so important to keep hydrated during the day. Have a glass of water every hour or so or keep a bottle on your desk and sip it.
It’s so easy to slip into something comfortable working from home. Or even to stay in your PJ’s if you’ve got no video calls to make. Don’t. get showered and get ready. Routine is everything. We may be having to establish new routines but establish them we must! We thrive on routine. We give babies and children routine because we know it works. Here’s the thing… when those babies and children turn into adults they thrive on routine too! Getting dressed also signals ‘ready to work’. You will feel much better, you will feel professional, you’ll feel ready to go. I do have a compromise personally which is that I still wear my regulation v-neck black t-shirt, but, instead of my regulation black jeans I’m wearing a smart pair of joggers. I’m still getting ready but enjoying the comfort. And fella’s have a shave. There’s nothing worse than a video conference with some stubbly fella. And I mean you fella’s with beards as well…. nows your chance… shave it off… you do know these beards are going to be viewed in the same way as the mullet is in 20 years time don’t you 😉 …I digress ?
And now you’re ready to start work….
But before you do that – before you go near those emails – two things
Set your goals – Visualise your day
Open up your dairy and think about what you want to achieve today. Setting your intention promotes motivation and overcomes procrastination. Visualise what a successful day looks like. Experience yourself completing tasks and having effective video meetings. Picture yourself ticking things off your ‘to-do’s’. And watch yourself as you close your laptop and move away from work and embark on a lovely evening. There is real power in this – give it a go.
Now you can start work…….
Go get ’em!
Stephen’s book, written with Lisa Watson and Steph Hunter is due out in early May and is called “How to Thrive in Professional Practice”.
Available here https://www.criticalpublishing.com/how-to-thrive-in-professional-practice
for pre order (due out 5th May 2020)
The book is an engaging yet undemanding read, and pulls together the various individual strains of self-care, spirituality and common sense, housing them under one external literary jacket, in a ‘whole system’ approach. A one stop ‘bible’ to give social workers and other professionals an uncomplicated, easy to read, go to resource that empowers them to manage and maintain their wellbeing through personal responsibility and self-care.