As lockdown continues into its 6th week here in the UK, it is understandable that some people may be feeling rather low, lonely, demotivated and perhaps even lost right now. To help raise our spirits and keep that ray of light very much in sight, I have a wonderful guest blog post by Emma Kangis, a coach and development consultant from EK Coaching.
Hi, I’m Emma and I’m an ICF Accredited Executive Coach and Development Consultant. I am 43 and live with my husband and our two children in Kent. I spent 15 years working within large companies until starting my coaching practice in 2012. My clients include leaders within organisations, business owners and full time parents. I am also a facilitator, speaker and mentor.
Being Your Best Self
Now that we are experiencing a somewhat different way of living/working, many of the challenges my clients come to me about are even more relevant, such as resilience, self-compassion, confidence and juggling family and work responsibilities.
For the last week, I have been trying to integrate (I don’t tend to use the word balance) home admin, work demands and home schooling my five year old whilst keeping my two year old entertained. So, how have I coped? Not very well to be honest, until I decided to change my way of living and create a plan for the next few weeks (with my husband).I also began to accept the new norm and make time for self-compassion – something I think we all need right now.
Navigating the weeks and months ahead will bring sizeable challenges for all us. We need to look after one another and ourselves.
A good way to begin is to look at what you can and can’t control. For example, since lockdown, you might not be able to control how many hours you can set aside to work in a day due to family responsibilities but you can control how you spend ‘your’ hours. Be FREE – Forward thinking (plan ahead and strategise), Realistic (look at what is achievable), Efficient (try not to waste time) and Effective (make considered, positive changes). Simply associating the word ‘FREE’ with how you spend your time can offer a sense of calm and space to just ‘be’ with whatever is going on or on your mind whilst considering each of the four important actions.
Whether your role is as a parent, a key worker, a manager, a team member or a CEO, staying connected to peers, family and friends is important. To help with this at the moment, we need to try to feel (more) comfortable within the digital space. For some, this can be daunting. We need to try and embrace it. Start slowly if you are not feeling comfortable. For those not used to using the likes of Zoom or similar, that might simply be starting with a short audio conversation via Zoom then trying a video call.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Make a list of those you are spending your time or working with; your partner, boss, team, customers, clients, peers, friends and family. How do they serve you and how do you serve them? What do you expect from them and what do they expect from you? Manage those expectations and prioritise.
In business, most importantly, focus on empathy rather than trying to create sales opportunities. Otherwise you risk being on ‘transmit’ rather than ‘receive’ and alienating your customers. The same goes for your personal life.Look at your messaging from the perspective of your audience whether that be work or friends, and let your compassion drive your communications, rather than fear of doing the wrong thing.
We can’t ignore that looking through the commercial lens is of utmost importance in business but simply choosing a less money-driven approach in current times may not only bring personal reward and happiness but, in the long term, could also lead to new business opportunities. A simple ‘How are you?’ is a good start.
Everyone appreciates honesty. If something isn’t quite going to plan and you need some time out, let those around you know.
The more people can rely on accurate information, the less they will listen to the rumour mill. Good communication often helps the negatives turn into positives and avoid conflict.
In a fast-moving crisis, it’s important for us all to communicate with empathy and honesty, not just at home, but with colleagues and clients/customers as well. Make sure you focus on what is important to them. In business, and of course only if possible, consider providing relief during a crisis by waiving fees or limitations. This not only reassures existing clients but can bring new ones on board.
We all have our own struggles, whether because of COVID-19 or otherwise, and times like this can erode our confidence. We worry about our jobs, where the next piece of work will come from, whether our clients/customers will still be with us once lockdown is over. Remember what got you to where you are and why you are good at what you do. Have a think about the qualities you have and why your clients/customers work with you and are interested in what you have to offer.
Notice your level of resilience. At one point of the day/week is it more or less present? We all tend to have that somebody that sits our shoulder telling us we can’t do something or puts us down (often referred to as our imposter), how can we learn to accept this often unwanted voice and use it to our advantage. It certainly knows how to affect our confidence, so befriend it, ask why it’s present, what use is it to me right now? What would you like to say to it?
I don’t necessarily mean arty (I for one am the least artistic person) but think outside the box. Use this period to strategise and think about what works best for you, your family and your work.Focus on the positives. Morale is high when we are optimistic which, in turn, leads to a boost in productivity, better relationships with peers, family and, often, laughter.
What is it that you enjoy about working from (or being more at) home generally? Remind yourself that, even if it’s not your choice right now, it could be a choice in the future and might be worth prepping those conversations with your boss, for example.
I’m sure we are all having to find ways to entertain one another, especially children! As we are confined to our gardens or other outside spaces, it might be necessary to create new activities and having this time might mean you are doing something different and hopefully more fun than you would have done previously. The same applies if you are a business owner. Take a step back and see what your business might look like in 3 months, 1 year, 3 years. How would you like it to look? What new opportunities are out there?
Plan Your Day
When you aren’t accustomed to working remotely or spending so much time at home, it can be hard to adjust mentally. You might find it helpful to take a disciplined approach to managing your day and develop a few rituals. Define a work schedule – blending work and life. If you have children, this might mean splitting the day with your partner so that you can both get time to work and look after your family. Make it clear when you are working and when parenting. Get up and ready to start the day how you normally would even if your new daily wardrobe consists of lounge pants!
If you typically move around a lot, try and take time in your day to have a walk/run/cycle or do something around the house.
Choose a dedicated work space. This sets an expectation that you are in that space and interruptions are a no-no.
Create an itinerary. Make pragmatic to-do lists and be realistic about what you can reasonably accomplish over the course of your day.
Feeling overwhelmed right now is inevitable. What do you notice you and others are feeling?
It would be impossible to ignore how you might be feeling and our emotional response to our daily thoughts/actions will be heightened. Acknowledge what sits behind any stress and anxiety and consider re-framing your thoughts. What would this situation look like if I…….?
Prioritise self-care strategies and dot your day with nourishing practices.
Practise self-compassion.Instead of beating yourself up, you might think: “I did my best today and I hope to get more done tomorrow”, or “my colleagues probably understand because they’re facing their own challenges too.” It’s also helpful to think about the factors that keep you from accomplishing items on your list, and to recognise that often, circumstances can’t be helped.
Controlling the inputs – be careful about what you’re doing. Do you need to be looking at social media quite as much? What do I need to know and how is this benefitting me?
Comparing feeds panic so try to spend time on things which add to your life and benefit you in some way. Seek out the people who make you happy.
Be kind to yourself. We are experiencing a new way of life so take time to adjust and reflect on how to make things work for you now.
Planning for the Future
Plan for the future so you optimise your home and working life. At the moment we might find ourselves spending more time ‘doing’ and less time reflecting but it is so important to make room for the latter. Allow yourself to process what is going on and think about what the future looks like. What do you want more/less of? How can you grab new opportunities with both hands? Then choose where to focus your attention and be intentional, be FREE.
If you would like to get in touch, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org, call me on 07803 034113 or send a message via Instagram @emmakangis or LinkedIn.
Wishing you all the best,