How To Get Out Of The Rut: Simple Steps To Reclaim Normalcy
Where there’s a new trend, there’s a report. One State of Work 2020 report shows that nearly every working professional is now spending more time ‘at work,’ feeling more anxious and is more burnt out. And this is in the year of no-long-commutes. Is the fabled unicorn of working from home just a horse with a horn, after all?
"You are not working from home; you are at your home during a crisis trying to work."
Though many of us have adapted to the best of our ability to the changed work equation, by all accounts, the productivity markers of the past have yet to be collectively reached, despite all the technology at our disposal.
With mass closures of schools and daycares, working parents without childcare support, in particular, cannot continue working the same as before. Globally, there have been calls for rethinking the eight-hour workday, factoring in family life, and employee mental health.
While the policymakers battle it out, how do we, at an individual level, try to reclaim as much normalcy as possible? What does it take to get out of a rut in the “new normal?’
We suggest five simple things you can do to start regaining some normalcy.
1. Shift your perspective a tiny bit
Remember when you had a commute that drained the life-force out of you? When you craved flexible hours? In a book that is ironically famous in 2020 called Maybe You Should Talk To Someone, author and psychiatrist Lori Gottlieb says that human beings crave time almost as much as we crave wealth, but once we have it, we don’t quite know what to do with it.
(Sidenote- This book is on our bookshelf and worth a read or listen. The tale of a psychiatrist who goes into therapy. Yes, we all should seek help when we need it.)
Smaller goals that need no more than five minutes a day can keep you motivated while also giving you something to do outside of work.
Think of this as an opportunity to start that time-sensitive diet, savour that cup of freshly brewed specialty coffee in your special mug, get a random mid-day hug from a child, or a significant other. Sometimes all it takes to make a fresh start is a shift in perspective.
2. Make your health a priority
A healthy mind inhabits a healthy body. Make sure you are nourishing the latter well so that it does not begin to fall apart on you in these testing times. While the occasional takeout is unavoidable, even desirable for your sanity, try to make healthy eating a high priority.
Squeeze in daily meditation or exercise. If you are grappling with anxiety or depression, make room for some therapy in your weekly schedule. In case of a chronic illness, make sure your employer and coworkers know that you may need time off on particularly rough days.
Taking a much-needed, timely sick day helps you recharge and prevents you from missing a number of workdays, and income, in the future.
3. Draw boundaries, physical and otherwise
Working in our pajamas, though fun at first, has grown old and jaded. Even if the nature of your work does not require dressing up while working from home, air out those sharp outfits once in a while as a tribute to the pre-pandemic you and as a harbinger of hope for better times to come.
However, what does the end of a workday really mean? Interestingly, these are the same boundaries that existed non-verbally in pre-pandemic times but need to be vocalised now. Companies that frowned upon leaving work at 6 PM are also the likely culprits in not really logging off of work today.
It is usually the case that nothing is ever urgent on a daily basis. On 5 PM calls, don’t be afraid to commit to taking up a new task only the following day. The same goes for commitments at home as well.
4. List your lessons
Start keeping a journal about the positive life lessons you have gained from this experience. Write about inspiring people you encountered, nice things others did for you, small joys each day brought.
Know that efficiency is rarely a marker of success, but creativity and giving things time are. It is time we step away from the Industrial Era constructs of efficiency as a function of time and instead focus on doing good work each and every day.
Before you know it, blessings have a fairly pleasant habit of piling up too.
5. Unplug to recharge
Schedule a break or a mini-vacation where you forget you have a laptop you are normally tethered to. The only way you will have time to do things outside of work is if you plan for it on a daily basis. Spend some quality time with loved ones without a thought of work. Practice mindfulness when you are at work, and learn to be comfortable when you are away from it.
Sometimes it is the small things that lead to big results. Try these ideas for reclaiming some normalcy in your life, and let us know how it goes!