Beauty of Boundaries
I was on a team call recently and as I joined, I heard people discussing how they were finding life working from home. There was a lot of discussion around how the day whizzes by and before you know it, you have easily done 10 hours.
One of the challenges of working from home is routine. It is easy to slip into work when it is always there just in front of you and you can do just that little bit more and it will make the next deadline easier. Trust me - I have been there. It is true, the next deadline is easier.
It is further down the line you will find the issue. The moment you realise your work days are now happening in your weekends, that this 10 hour day isn’t a once off and all your days are moving towards 10 hours plus. It just becomes a mindset you settle into. But then one day the break will happen.
I know this because it happened to me.
For any of you sitting there thinking “but I am mentally strong so I will be fine” please stop that thought right now.
My favourite analogy, as seen in a previous blog, is to view your mind as a bucket and any water in the bucket is the equivalent of life stress. So if you are carrying round your bucket, you want a little water inside to make it worth while carrying around. There is a purpose.
After a while there will be enough water in it that it will start to be a burden to carry around. It will feel heavy, uncomfortable, you want to put it down but you want to reach target first. Maybe you will rest a bit to help you carry you it a bit further and so on.
Then, it will reach an overflow point. This point is the equivalent moment you hit full breakdown. It is a horrible moment and for anyone that wants to understand it better or talk about theirs I am always happy to explain or listen.
So yes, everyone will have a different size bucket and a different weight they can carry. But the bucket will never be infinitely large and/or infinitely light. There is always an overflow point. Although you may feel more mentally capable you still have your limits, you will just have a different time line or capacity to another person.
So, how do we get the water back out of the bucket?
You add a tap.
The tap represents the “self-care” you do. Whether that be exercise, reading, talking to others, the pub, a mix of them all and so on. This extra time you have because your commute is gone or some other part of your day is changed because of COVID is a good time to include practising self-care. Make it a habit now. Use this as an opportunity to make life a little easier for yourself. It doesn't haven't to be anything massive. Maybe it is something as simple as sleeping enough.
My favourite form of self-care is boundaries!
So going back to the start of this blog, set yourself work boundaries. You are working between hours X and Y except for the occasional overtime needed to reach a deadline. Set sleep and wake up times that fit your body, get dressed, eat well, set family time etc.
British culture is so fixed on doing everything we can to help others but we rarely remember to help ourselves. Much like with a plane oxygen mask, you need to look after yourself in order to look after others effectively, that includes being able to bring the best version of you to work.
I hope this helps, I have a work from home help sheet I created if anyone wants it. It includes links to free at home exercise classes, focus music playlists to make the most of that work time and a way to help create a routine that suits you.
Now go and find your tap!