Workday Recommendations for Strange Times
The world is throwing a lot at us these days. We’ve spent nearly a year trying to work while simultaneously surviving a pandemic (or we’ve been out of work, facing a whole other predicament), and here in the US we’ve gone through a whole host of terrors, including an *checks notes* attempted coup. I’m not even close to operating at 100%, and my hunch is you’re not, either.
I’m not the best at taking care of myself when times are tough, but a few things have been made very clear to me in recent months. Here they are:
If you can: tell your manager or team that you have to sign off for a bit.
This should work for salaried positions, but I’m well aware that hourly employees aren’t afforded such luxuries. I’ve had to weather many a shift after getting dumped by my girlfriend or a fight with my roommate or far too many drinks the night before. No one cares and you just struggle through those eight hours.
Generally, I’ve found that honesty is the best policy. “I’m having a hard time focusing on work today because of [insert international or domestic crisis of the day] and will be signing off for the rest of the day. I will find time later on to get caught up, and am available if there’s an emergency.” Be clear, set a boundary, and also allow for the fact that work may not be able to wait; work emergencies are real, time sensitive matters pop up, and the team may need you to be available. Roll with it, just as you’re asking them to roll with it for you.
Take a walk.
Most of us are working from home. And if we’re not, we should be granted breaks as mandated by labor laws. If you’re between meetings, go outside for ten minutes. Walk around the block. If you’ve got a ten or fifteen minute break available, take a wander instead of doomscrolling on your phone. I promise, it helps.
I like my body tight and tense like the fibers of a tennis racket. Don’t worry, it just means I’ll die young with high blood pressure. Don’t be like me. Move your body, relax your brain.
The same goes here for a little mindfulness, meditation, or stretch break, if you’re into that sort of stuff. I’m not. I like my body tight and tense like the fibers of a tennis racket. Don’t worry, it just means I’ll die young with high blood pressure. Don’t be like me. Move your body, relax your brain.
Play with your kids.
I don’t have kids, so this is not possible. But even though children don’t interest me all that much, a couple times a week I FaceTime with my sibling to see their kid. It helps to spend some time with a little tyrant who has no idea what is happening in the world. The little tyrant is just pleased to see me and working their little brain to see how close they can get their mouth to my sibling’s phone. Everybody wins.
I don’t really know what people do with their kids, but they seem to enjoy doing it. Go do that.
If you do have kids, take a break from online schooling or whatever else they’re doing and hang out. Play a game or do some drawing. If they’re verbal, have a little catch up session. Take them for a walk or to a park. I don’t really know what people do with their kids, but they seem to enjoy doing it. Go do that. Enjoy yourself for twenty minutes. Take it a step further and live on the edge: do it without your phone.
Listen to a podcast or read the chapter of a book.
This is my favorite one. Sometimes I get really wild and combine it with taking a walk! I like to listen to inane funny things like the Who? Weekly podcast or read really great books (here are some recent recommendations!). Take yourself out of the real world and sink into pop culture or a fictional tale. You’ll feel refreshed.
Power down your laptop at the end of the day.
Don’t hem and haw about the tabs you’ll lose or whatever else it is that keeps people from doing this. Save your files and quit every program. Don’t put it to sleep, Shut. It. Down. Find some space between life and work and stop staring at a screen. You were not made to work this way.
Don’t put it to sleep, Shut. It. Down.
Chances are you, dear reader, won’t take a single bit of this advice. That’s okay. I’m quite terrible at taking advice, too. But please take care of yourself. Give yourself some grace. And wear a damn mask!
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