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Work Just Got Personal

For many of us, our work and home lives have collided. Literally. And success will take more than tips for setting up your home office. How can you keep your cool, be your best, and grow in this moment? Regain a sense of control by downloading our latest infographic and following the 5 purposeful steps below.

How to Regain Control

COVID-19 is impacting all of us—across the globe—in unique ways. Some of us might be working from home for the very first time, while others are already seasoned pros. With sheltering at home the new norm, work has become personal like never before. Work-life integration is no longer just a theory. For most of us it’s very real. Childcare challenges aside, there are silver linings. We’re more authentically connected to our workmates and clients alike. We’re virtually in the homes of one another, meeting kids and pets, and starting conversations with real, caring discussions.

As the initial shock wears off and we begin to settle into a new daily rhythm, many of us are asking: how do we feel more in control when things around us seem out of control? How do we create new routines to help us be at our best for those who rely on us? How do we stay productive, focused, and positive?

One answer: To bring greater intention and focus on purpose into each day. Here are five practical ways to strengthen your purpose “muscle” each day, to help you thrive and even grow during this turbulent time.

Step 1: Practice gratitude

Handling the changes that come with living during this time of uncertainty isn’t easy, but focusing on the good things we do have in our lives—whether it’s a roof over our head, having loved ones close by, flexibility to work from home, or having steady work—helps remind us that even when it seems like everything else is doom and gloom, we still have things to be grateful for. Stepping back and practicing gratitude for what you have represents a simple, yet powerful action you can take any time anywhere, with immediate emotional wellbeing benefits.

Purposeful Tips
  • Give your family members, or whoever you’re quarantining with, an easy way to express their thanks by putting a ‘gratitude jar’ in a common area, like the kitchen.
  • Instead of singing “happy birthday” twice while hand washing, reflect on one person or thing you’re grateful for and challenge yourself to think of 10 reasons why.

Step 2: Helping others

Doing good for others does good for you, too. Performing acts of kindness (no matter how small) lowers cortisol (the stress hormone), improves immune function, and reduces emotions like anxiety, anger, and depression. Doing good for others also helps you get out of your own head. Instead of ruminating, your energy gets redirected toward someone or something else. We all benefit from practicing more intentional acts of kindness.

Purposeful Tips
  • Pick up a meal for a neighbor juggling the needs of young children.
  • Use video conferencing to teach someone else a skill you possess.
  • Sign up to call socially isolated community members.

Step 3: Strengthen connections

Humans are naturally social creatures, so missing out on the frequent and small but meaningful interactions we’re used to—running into old friends out on a walk, stopping to pet someone’s dog, saying thanks to the cashier at the grocery store—can seem pretty weird. Luckily, people are adapting by finding ways to maintain and even strengthen the connections they do have. Many folks are taking advantage of videoconferencing tools to catch up face to face, virtually trying traditionally in-person activities like karaoke, trivia, and coworking. Now is as good time as any to pick up your phone and call friends you’ve lost touch with or ones you haven’t had a chance to connect with lately — they’re likely to benefit from your call as much as you do.

Purposeful Tips
  • Using your choice of video conferencing solution to coordinate a virtual happy hour for your work team, friend group, or family. Ask everyone to join from home and bring their favorite drink (doesn’t have to be alcoholic) along with them.
  • Send a “thinking about you” note via text or email to someone you’ve lost touch with.  Or, better yet, just pick up the phone and call them. It’s easy in this moment to break the ice by simply asking “how are you and your family doing in this weird and challenging time?”

Step 4: Take time to learn and grow

One way to feel a greater sense of control in your life is to set an intention to learn and grow each day. An intention could be as big as learning a new language, or as simple as taking five minutes at the beginning of your day for some deep breathing. 

If this seems overwhelming, start small.  Pick one phrase you’d like to learn in a language you don’t know and start there. Then use the phrase daily for 3 days. Or set aside one minute this afternoon to take 4 slow, deep breaths. Then set a reminder to do it daily for the rest of this week.  

Making the choice to do something, no matter what it is, allows you to exert a healthy level of control in your life at a time when we’re all feeling like nothing is within our control.

Purposeful Tips
  • Explore online resources like Coursera, EdX, or Khan Academy, which offer online courses you can fit flexibly into your schedule.
  • Pick up the instrument you used to play (that guitar in your closet?) and play one chord. Then learn one new one. You might be surprised where this leads you.

Step 5: Reserve moments for calm

It’s important to take intentional breaks throughout the day. While working (and doing everything else) from home, the natural breaks you had at the office might not be duplicated at home. Walking to the bathroom, grabbing a snack from the kitchen, catching up with coworkers at the watercooler, are no longer natural breaks in your day. Besides not having your natural breaks, you’re probably also watching the news, listening to the radio, and checking social media, which while in small doses may be necessary, adds more stress to an already stressful time. 

Take time to center yourself: reminding yourself of the purposes in your life and taking a few deep cleansing breaths can work to lower  stress and help you regain composure during the chaos.

Purposeful Tips
  • Stop and take 3 deep, slow, breaths. Inhale for 5–7 seconds. Pause, then exhale for 7–10 seconds. If your mind wanders, gently guide it back to your breath.
  • Put yourself on a news “diet.”  Limit your exposure to 15 minutes in the morning and evening.

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