It all feels so unreal. Sometimes you can’t tell if it’s day or night. There are cocktails available at any time, you’re losing money every minute, and there’s all sorts of entertainment to distract you.
No, I’m not talking about coronavirus lockdown, but a visit to Las Vegas. Anyone who has ever been there will be amazed at the way everything is designed to make you forget ‘normal’. The concept is that you go into a dreamworld, and now many of us are in danger of entering a similar state in our own homes, as we attempt to continue with ‘business as usual’ but in very unusual circumstances.
What can we do to snap out of the dream and establish some methods of dealing effectively with the situation? I have some suggestions.
In part it depends on who you are sharing your ‘Las Vegas’ with. Perhaps like me you have a family, and the children don’t quite understand that just because their father is now at home all the time doesn’t mean that he is on holiday. Or maybe you live with a partner who is also home office working, with both of you having phone conversations at the same time, or competing for wi-fi bandwidth. Even if you’re in solo lockdown, there’s the problem of self-motivation, and getting to grips with your tasks. Jobs that would easily fit into your normal routine in the office are now harder to schedule, because there are all these other things to delay you getting on with work. Hey, the windows need cleaning! Hey, I can sort out my sock drawer! And so on, and so on.
The answer is scheduling, and having a daily routine.
My daily routine isn’t ‘better’ than anyone else’s, but let me describe it to you, as an example:
(Yes, that’s 5 of the a-m): I get up and start my day. This is where I win the day. It’s a clear two hours of thinking and planning. No doing, just figuring out next steps. Just as with my 6 Steps Program, I plan the steps as being small and logical. Baby steps to achieve giant leaps!
Throughout the day I assign one hour periods, but in those I work for fifty minutes, then do something else for ten, to rest and recharge my batteries.
Get properly dressed, spend some family time, followed by household tasks, plus homeschooling.
This is my connecting with the world time, when I make calls to colleagues to initiate plans and check in with progress on current projects. At this time I’m not dealing directly with clients – unless there’s an urgent need to do so.
I’m a golfer, and in my home office I practice my putting in between tasks or calls. Having something to do throughout the day which brings its own challenges and pleasures is really important. For me, putting practice helps keep me in balance.
Lunchtime with the family, and the chance to catch up with each other. As I said, kids don’t always understand why their parents are spending so much time at home, but actually it’s a great opportunity for everyone to share their thoughts and feelings.
Time for a short rest, perhaps even a 10 minute nap for me.
Now it’s external communication time with clients and other stakeholders – calls, emails, catching up on Slack and other platforms, reading appropriate feeds such as LinkedIn, and looking at market information. And yes, in one of my ten-minute refresher breaks, perhaps I’ll attend to my putting again!
I spend time deciding what the next day’s big three will be. These are the must do tasks for the following day. Any more than three must do tasks is too much – I don’t want to reach the end of the next day with the feeling of uncompleted jobs, or the sense of having failed. So I make my big three achievable, but challenging.
Dogtime! (Yes, there’s also a family dog). Our dog takes me out for a run, which does us both a lot of good. This is the time when I can also listen to my chosen podcast. I’m a great fan of business and motivational podcasts, and listening while running helps empty my mind of worries or thoughts, and fills me with inspiration.
Relaxation time, often spent with a good book, although my wife and I will also watch a movie, or enjoy a board game together. We talk, put things in order, and I check in briefly with my big three for the following day. I also decide what my next dogtime podcast will be.
Off to bed, feeling that I have put in a good shift of work, considering the circumstances. There was a plan for the day, and the plan has been achieved. If that’s the case, sleep comes quite easily.
If your routine is different to mine, that’s fine. The important thing is that you have a routine, rather than existing in a Las Vegas-style dreamworld. If you have a routine it will enable you to have killer days when you achieve everything you set out to do the previous evening. Without a routine you can’t even know what you should have been doing. With a routine it means you are following a plan, and with a plan you will be able to squeeze the most out of every day.
Maximizing the potential of every day has always been important, but in these times it’s vital. I’m not a believer in multi-tasking. I would rather focus hard on one topic, solve the problems around it, then after my ten minute break, move onto the next subject. I’m a serial-tasker! But whatever your model is, get a schedule, make a routine, and win the day. If you can win three out of every five days, I’d say that counts as winning the week. That’s a whole lot more productive than living as if you were playing the slots and tables of Las Vegas.
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