“We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some have yachts, some have canoes, and some are drowning.”
– Adapted from a quote by Damian Barr
Our empathy lies with Sydneysiders who are marking another day of lockdown, whilst those of use in other states are keeping a watchful eye on the numbers. And as daily case numbers have become part of our daily conversations again – and six year olds surprise us with questions like “how many cases were in the community Mum” – life in lockdown can feel like a theme park of looping roller-coaster emotions. Regardless of the length of lockdowns you’ve already experienced, all of us have varying degrees of a pandemic hangover.
What we’re now hearing from many in our community is, ‘How can I continue to hold this all together – again – and make it work?’ Today, we invite you to reflect on the strategies that might just make the difference between simply surviving and thriving during this period. And by that we mean doing what for many working parents comes least naturally to us – putting our own oxygen mask on first.
As Arianna Huffington once said, “We need to have a mindset shift and stop believing the delusion that in order to be successful you need to be always on and available 24/7, that you need to deprioritise yourself.”
But let’s be honest, when you’re juggling kids, work deadlines and the house looks like you’ve just hosted a party with unruly guests, it can be a challenge to even create the space to think about what prioritising yourself even means.
Well, that’s where we are here to help. As Victorians who spent some six months in lockdown with kids, partners and barking dogs last year, here’s what helped:
Start the day right: It helps to begin your morning with either exercise, meditation or another ritual. So many of us have a whole toolbox of ‘wellbeing’ strategies that we dip in and out of. Well, now is the time to make the list of them and make them non-negotiables. Your mental health and wellbeing will thank you. We also encourage you to set an intention (clarify what your purpose is for the day), identify your top three priorities, and then plan your day. We at Grace Papers also start every single day with a standup and gratitude practice.
Marie Kondo your role: Yep, its time to clean up your role! When you think about your role and accountabilities, what really ‘sparks joy’ for you? What are the things that you’re both good at and add value to the company and your career – versus what could be either dropped, delegated or delayed. Now is the time to actively choose to be ruthless about your priorities. This kind of thinking can bring both value and space to your life and your performance.
Use your time wisely: We suggest thinking about hacks like ‘batching’ (combining like-tasks), mono-tasking (ie, not multi-tasking) and the pomodoro technique (which is creating 10 minute transition moments between meetings in order to capture notes, insights and follow-up, as well moving, rehydrating, refueling and breathing).
Know, and use, your ‘Power Hour’: This comes from the Happiness Project and is, quite simply, the best time – for you – to do distraction-free work. For example, some people like to focus on deep work in the mornings when they have more energy and have meetings in the afternoon. For some, it is the evenings. Know the time when you have optimum energy and schedule it in. Set a timer and turn off all distractions. Make it a daily practice.
Build in micro-breaks: This is aligned with the ‘pomodoro’ technique above, which is a ‘Wello’ – it’s just like a smoko, only good for you. Taking a break is not going to your kitchen to make a cup of tea – it’s going out of your environment. Doing something like walking the four corners of your block for 10 minutes. Try to time these with your kids home-schooling breaks and do it together to shift your mindsets and clear your heads.
Establish an end-of-day ritual: ‘Log-out’ rituals are really important, as being able to switch off at the end of your work day without logging back on is often a tricky commitment for many of us.
Review progress on day. What was good? What was a challenge? What is worrying you?
Write down your top three priorities for tomorrow.
Play a going home song as you tidy up your desk and get changed out of ‘work’ day clothes. Or, use one of your rituals of commitment at this time to shift your focus onto relationships with friends and family.
Find an accountability buddy: Studies have proven people are up to 95% more accountable to their actions when they have a support person. It’s also really useful to have a support person to be aware of where you’re at and what you need.