Lock down: time well spent? 

Now we are tentatively thinking about coming out of lock down, how will we look back at our time spent?  I urge you not to look at it through a lens of judgement and disappointment.  What we thought we might do could be very different to the reality.  It is a tough set of circumstances.  Hopefully one we will not have to repeat.

So what if you haven’t put those shelves up, or lapsed in your fitness regime?  Perhaps you’ve not learned Spanish, knitting or Creole cooking.  Who cares?  Congratulations if you have and if you’ve watched old classic movies, re-read a favourite book, or binged (let’s reclaim that word as a positive) on boxsets courtesy of Netflix.  But how has it affected your work – whether you have continued to work in your usual workplace, or through this working from home lark?

A period like this, and one that will continue in some form or another will be difficult. It will extend in different ways for different people, such as those who may lose their job, or be asked to shield for longer.  Our personal lives, routines, behaviours, work and social lives will all be changed.

But reflecting on things so far, it does reveal our instincts and behaviour patterns.  Working from home, I think a lot of people have come to learn, is not an easy option.  And it has been compounded by restrictions of lock down.  And how will it change once we start to return to work in different ways, perhaps in different teams and with new tasks to be responsible for.  I am particularly interested in our concepts of time and how we use it.  “They are invisible lines that separate the participants in a relationship and allow them to take responsibility for their lives and to meet their obligations.  Your boundaries are how you keep yourself physically and emotionally safe”. Talking Therapy (2015)

Here, I am thinking about common ways we waste time, or make our own choices.  As is said, no judgement here, just things to think and reflect upon.

  • Constant interruptions: have you relished being constantly interrupted by family at home, friends on Skype or colleagues’ emails and ‘phone calls?
  • Indecision: have you been consumed by a mire of indecision, or used new arrangements or new attitudes to deadlines to fuel your need not to decide?
  • Meetings: have you filled your days with online meetings and calls to avoid getting the necessary and un-enjoyable things done?
  • Changing priorities or lack of objectives: have you not identified what the new priorities are? Have you struggled to let go of the previous goals?  Are you rudderless in your direction because of the uncertainty about what may happen next?
  • Personal lack of organisation: Has the new routine caused you to be less organised that usual? Without familiar structure to the day, week or month, does every day feel the same?  Are you struggling to recall what day it is?  Do the weekends feel just like weekdays?  Are the boundaries between work and home blurred to such an extent they are indefinable?
  • Management of self: pyjama days are natural, expected and okay. They really are.  But is this everyday?  Getting dressed for work is one way to separate work from life.  One to think about.
  • Ineffective delegation: well, you might not have anyone to delegate to at the moment or are painfully aware of the pressure that colleagues are under personally and professionally. Or are you holding onto things you don’t want to let go of?
  • Attempting to do too much: we all want to do our bit to help others and many are felling guilt about being able to continue to work, or having more opportunities than others, and/or being safe and healthy. We might actually be enjoying lock down, yet very aware that others are not.  These can all fuel our motivations to do too much.  Is work so uncertain in the future we are attempting to demonstrate our work and commitment so much that it is damaging us?
  • Butterflying and fire-fighting: these are signs of lack of direction. When we enjoy the freedom of flitting from one task to the other without purpose or a plan.  Or we relish getting involved in an emergency or drama more important than our core tasks – the perfect avoidance excuse.
  • Socialising: spending so much time at home does run the risk of distorting the boundaries between our work self and our home self. Even though we are in lock down, getting involved in family life (children, partners, parents, flatmates), chatting over the neighbour’s fence, accepting personal calls, all represent a constant barrage of distraction opportunities.
  • In and out of comfort zones: one thing that occurs to be is the loneliness and isolation in lock down and the reduced ability, despite technology, to work collaboratively in teams. To thrash our ideas and plans, and share tasks and roles that play to our strengths.  We are being asked to work out of all our comfort zones and preferred working styles.  This directly impacts on our work and home happiness.

What has lock down told you about your relationship with time?

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