At first, it was another funny meme, but now it’s becoming a general trend: even confined at home, a lot of us are starting to feel completely overwhelmed.
Who knew that the number of video calls, emails, calls, and other interactions would skyrocket? (Turns out, even Zoom themselves didn’t know this!)
For those of us who are lucky to be able to work from home, Monday to Friday has rapidly adapted to this new norm where a verbal check-in in passing the hallways is now replaced by virtual coffees and orchestrated digital standups.
Strangely, it’s hard to stay on top of it all…
There’s also this new influx of time-hungry activities: checking in with the family, the friends that we can’t meet for a beer after work. The birthdays are thrown as a WhatsApp party. Even your parents whom you used to see a few times a year for a family reunion, now ping you midday for a “glass of wine over Facetime at 7pm”.
All that our disposable time acquired from saving on the commute has melted like butter in the sun.
And I can’t even begin to even think about parents out there who have been homeschooling for weeks and trying to figure out a way to break out the news to their kids that school might be closed for a long, long time.
So how do we do this? How do we stay sane?
These are three things you can do, not only on how to protect your time (and your sanity) but also on how to build skills that will support your rise and ascent in the years to come.
1. Prioritize your time like you would prioritize your last few cents.
Time is money. It’s corny, but it’s true! That’s something that you definitively learn as an entrepreneur and that I wish every corporate would also integrate.
Instead, employers are often encouraging and rewarding “timely response” and “inbox zero”.
But the reality is that not all tasks are created equal, and the amount of time available in the day, in your work contract or simply in your inner work-life balance contract, is well finite.
So it’s important to budget time more ferociously and be OK with deprioritizing tasks that are not worth your time.
2. Spare time for reflection as part of your daily routine.
Whether it’s for a workout, some meditation, or the mere act of washing your hair and doing your make up. These things go a long way.
Your brain will function better if you shift your perspective (ever had a brilliant idea in the middle of your shower?).
But beyond surviving quarantine, you will notice that great leaders invest in this reflective time. They are not always “on” or running from a meeting to another.
It might be that their reflective time is the first thing they do as they start their early day, or part of their day (I used to cross path with one of my VPs at Amazon alongside Lake Union in Seattle – he would walk, lost in his thoughts and I would run, equally reflecting on my day-to-day).
If you let the craziness of the day impact on that reflective time, the long-term cost might be much higher than what it seems to be on the moment.
3. Communicate effectively about expectations.
It’s funny to me to think about a time (like, 2019) when “process” was a bad word. Now folks are inventing ways (*cough*processes*cough*) to create communication models and efficiencies to support the new norm of remote work.
For example: how do you run a daily standup without having everybody speaking over each other or the awkward silence until they do?
The times of polite assumptions are over. To protect your time and increase efficiencies, you must be vocal and transparent about expectations. You need to give direction. Direct Direction.
It can be a learning curve (especially when culturally we’re taught to be gentle and agreeable – it’s not antinomic though!). It also applies to when you’re at home, and your spouse wants to talk to you about something while you are still in the middle of deep thinking work.
Effective communication is a life-long skill that will elevate your ability to influence at work, especially “when this is over”
These are some of the skills and methods I have learned over the years and that I teach my coaching clients so that they can raise their profile authentically while delivering results in high-pressure environments. It includes working from home during a global pandemic!
Marion Renoux is an Amazon veteran and a Strategic Career Coach. She helps highly-skilled ambitious professionals develop their positioning in a way that allows them to progress and breakthrough in their careers. Learn more and get more free resources at www.fierceandcharming.com
Photo credit: Kevin Wolf on Unsplash