In this time of uncertainty with the threat of Covid-19, what are the things we need to support us in our business lives? Most people are home from work, many are in self-isolation, children are at home with their parent(s) without access to the greater outside or even their friends.
How can we cope with this uncertainty in business?
How do we cope with this and keep our businesses running so that we are ready for the full-on, busy period which we are all hoping for when
this is over?
There will be a period of novelty, children will love being at home and enjoy the new experience of learning and speaking to their teachers via the internet and doing exercise classes via YouTube, those working from home will enjoy the aspect of being able to work when they want, have a cup of coffee whenever they want to and not have to endure the daily commute. We will form a new way of being.
Then will come the storm.
We will get bored of this. It will become tiring. We will lose our patience with the situation and with each other. We will need to adjust so that we
can create a new normal.
We need to do a couple of critical things:
Establish a routine
If you are home-schooling your children for the first time, it’s important to have a structure to the day just like they would have at school. Structure is a form of boundary and a boundary is one of the things which keeps children safe. Just like the fence at the bottom of your garden or beside a railway track, it confines a child and stops them coming into danger. Boundaries are there for children to come up against. It is there job to test them. To push against them. It lets them know where their safety zone ends. [See more on setting a boundary.]
Regular routine in both time and manner will give your children a structure which will create a sense of security and help allay the uncertainty and vulnerability which is so keenly felt at the moment.
If you now find yourself working at home, you will have to establish a boundary with your children regarding when you are working and when you are available to them – aside from incidents when they absolutely need you of course. You will need to be firm with your boundaries so that they know that you are working and are not available to them for entertainment or questions. This will be hard but it will teach them a critical work ethic.
Set your boundaries
Decide how long you are ‘unavailable’ for then how long you will spend with your children during the ‘working day’. A break in the morning, lunch and a break in the afternoon. Give them a schedule. If you are a single parent, you will need to be near or in the same room as your children but that doesn’t mean that they should have you available to them all the time. Experiment with ways you can communicate to them that you are unavailable after you have talked to them, wear a badge or a baseball cap, have a sign on your desk. A small company I know have a system of clip on lights on their computers – when the light is red it means ‘Do not disturb’ and when it is green it means ‘I’m available’ – think of having something like this. In an emergency everything changes of course.
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Boundaries aren’t just for children
If you establish boundaries, or you can call them rules, or a structure, for yourself, you too will less scattered, anxious or vulnerable.
If you are working from home, get up at the time you would normally get up to go to work. Wear the clothes you would normally wear to work, maybe in a slightly relaxed way – say guys omit the tie and ladies wear trousers rather than a skirt and heels and be at your desk at the time you would normally be in the office.
Establish your routine for the day which might incorporate time with your children as above. Walk the dog at the regular time. Have lunch at the same time every day. Go for a walk around the garden.
Having an established and regular routine will help you to feel calmer and more focused.
Whilst it is good to have a routine, don’t be harsh on yourself if for some reason you can’t maintain the schedule. Things happen, you might get a phone call from someone needing contact or help in some way. Obviously, it’s an ideal to have a regular routine – not a hard and fast rule.
Communication is critical
It is absolutely crucial that we keep connected. Make a phone call to the outside world at least once a day, jump on to a training online or a webinar.
Speak to your work colleagues on the phone or have a group video chat. Have lunch together via Zoom or Skype. Keep connected. Have a regular team meeting online. Teams and working people are getting really creative in how they communicate with each other.
If you are a freelancer or sole trader, keep in touch with your customers. Call them. Suggest a sandwich and a cup of coffee over the internet together. Have a one-to-one with your business networking buddies.
If you are not part of a network, join one. There are so many online networking groups popping up that it’s easy to get involved in one. This also helps you get into a regular routine and you can share your skills and expertise at the same time.
Keeping connected is critical for your business at this time. Keep talking about what you do and where you are – keep your engagement with your audience.
Social media is a major asset to us all right now – this is a huge subject which I am not going to cover here. I will leave that to the experts in that field.
Listen to limited news stories
It is so easy right now to feel overloaded and scared by what we hear in the news. It is important to keep informed, especially to hear the daily Government announcements. Keep your exposure to the news limited. Contain it to certain things in the day, maybe the formal Government Announcement and the evening news or the breakfast news. Whatever you do – don’t overload yourself with information.
News is repeated throughout the day – you don’t need to hear every bulletin. Limit yourself to how you gain your business news, do you have a trade organisation which you can log in to?
Find joy in creativity or music. Find something lovely to connect with during the day. Play some music whilst you work, watch something from nature if you can’t get out. Listen to a play. Join an online choir. Whatever it is, ensure you have something in your working day which really ‘feeds’ you. Something which is hopeful and positive.
So, keep calm and keep focused by having a regular routine, keeping connected and include some joy in your day.
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Contribution by Elaine Flook – see more articles at elaineflook.com
Elaine is a Performance Therapist and Consultant to Bookable.