When my clients talk to me about the aspects of remote work, energy hardly ever gets mentioned. We usually think about creating a good space for work and making time for uninterrupted business. Energy is the third key ingredient to balanced work from home. In this post, I will share my personal learnings about energy levels.
First of all the basics. Our energy levels depend on our health – and by this, I naturally mean both physical and mental health. Many of my clients who suddenly moved to work from home shifting from office work to employment assumed that not commuting to work will allow for longer evenings, for example. Here is the hard truth: when working from home we need to care for our health more! We need to be more vigilant as to how much sleep and rest we get in the week. It might mean moving socialising towards the end of the week or weekends only. It might mean drinking alcohol at weekends only (I know just how tempting it can be to have a drink especially now, in the lockdown). It might mean drinking more water, eating more often in smaller portions and getting up from the screen more often to stretch our legs. In the office, it is natural to stop and chat with a colleague, but at home, we can – if we wish to – work through the entire morning without stopping. We know by now that there is very little negative impact of screens on our health (only due to very extended times on screens), however, it is still important to move, to stretch, to get up and move at least once every hour. Sleeping, eating and moving better is much easier to achieve from home, but initially can be a bit counter-intuitive. So please do consider writing down your habits in those areas and slowly, gradually improving them and feeling more energetic.
The second, very important area of our health is our mental health. In the current times, many of us are feeling low and slow due to the collective grief, sadness and trauma caused by the pandemic. We need to accept that some tasks might simply take us more time – we have less energy than usual. And that’s OK. It’s really important to accept that our mental health at the moment is a natural reaction to the situation we are all in. It’s important to communicate clearly with our teams and plan our work a little bit less ambitiously for the time being. So stay kind to yourself, take a breath, slow down and work in smaller steps – one at a time. We will get through this but we cannot expect to have the same energy levels as back in winter. (I also understand that for some of us this time might be quite relaxing, especially if you are off or on furlough, so my assumption might be completely wrong).
Another way of measuring our energy levels is look at our periods of work – times of the day, week, month even the seasons. I personally find the seasons really important and twice a year, when we all move from winter to spring and from summer to autumn, as my body is adjusting to different temperatures and levels of light I can suffer from lack of sleep and really low energy. But I know this now so I tend to recognise the early signs and adjust my workload accordingly. Again, it’s worth learning how our bodies and minds react to changes in time. Find ways to stay kind to yourself.
And finally, there is also the notion of a simple balance between nurturing and depleting activities. Working in social media I often have really busy times at work. Sometimes stressful periods of work happen rather unexpectedly too. I need to be aware of the energy that gets used up in managing new situations, busy periods of work or even just a lot of multitasking on some days. Knowing what activities nurture our energy levels can be really helpful. I like to take a moment for a dog walk or a walk to our allotment where I can switch off. Just walking helps me relax, even though seemingly it does take up energy too. It is relaxing to me. It helps me get back to work and get stuff done.
That is the most important aspect of energy: it is unique to each of us individually. So if you find yourself struggling with your energy levels when working from home, do take a moment to review your activities – at work and in other areas of your life. Take a moment to understand your personal needs – if you are an introverted individual who is sensitive to external stimuli or burns a lot of energy while socialising, how can you top it up with a bit of healthy solitude? If you thrive in connecting with others, how can you do so to improve your energy levels? What else do you need to consider to ensure that you are healthy, rested and ready to start your work from home?
Let me know, I would love to know what works for you.