Today we begin our 4-part series on caring for yourself.
Assumptions: You are (a) working from home, (b) you don’t usually work from home, and (c) that you are putting the needs of others in front of your own needs.
Over the next four days we’ll look at establishing healthy routines, creating healthy spaces, engaging in renewal, and increasing healthy leadership practices. On Thursday afternoon we’ll conclude with a 2:00 virtual meeting.
We will also examine three overarching themes:
We have had to react to a new way of leading and working, but now it is time to be intentional. Intentional choices will result in better leadership.
Every break in concentration requires refocusing. This is as true for scanning an email notification or news headline as it is for taking a phone call or interacting with someone in your environment. Each time you refocus you lose time and your ability to concentrate is degraded. A series of breaks creates a cascading effect that undermines your ability to engage thoughtfully and intentionally. After you finish with this article you can jump here to read a research summary about the cost of disruptions.
Closely related to distraction is the concept of being fully present for each task and each interaction. Being fully present offers performance and mental health benefits but is challenging in the digital age and might be even more so when leading from home.
Routines are the practices we engage in on a daily basis. Think about routines as being a set of dominoes. If you start your first routine correctly, the rest of them should follow as long as you’ve set them up well. When you execute your first routine, it becomes easier to do the second, and then the third, and so on.
Why are we starting with routines?
Like a sailboat with no rudder, we go wherever the wind takes us without solid routines. In short, it is very difficult to act strategically without having routines.
There are four critical parts of the day for routines:
This sequence assumes a standard day focused on being most productive in the morning. Rearrange elements to suit your schedule and times of peak performance. If you are still functioning in crisis mode, these practices are still relevant but will be harder to execute.
Transition to Work
This is the single most important set of routines due to the domino effect. If you stumble on the first step, it can make the rest of the day rocky. Here are some suggestions for routines to include in your transition from waking to working:
Have a set order for getting started. Some of the steps you may take:
One of the inescapable facts of leading from home is that there are more distractions. Being militant about sealing off blocks of work time is critical. If you need to do non-work things during the day, try and do them in a set block. Importantly, build a trigger at the end of the block that pushes you into your afternoon work. Accept that the afternoon block may be “squishier”, but you can anticipate certain types of work.
Transition from Work
This is critical for your mental health. Your work may require you to do things in the evening, and if that is the case, build in an evening work block with its own routines. It is imperative to create clean breaks between professional and private time and to adhere to them to the greatest degree possible.
Best practices for routines:
Do good and be well,