“Dad, mommy’s dying!!! Do something,” screamed my worried daughter. That was last Sunday and the first time she saw me in bed the whole day. This got me to seriously think about wellness and which practices I should bring back. Here I have 3 wellbeing practices for remote workers to share with you.
After a few days, my daughter said, “Mom, how are you?” I responded, “I’m better now baby.” Then she asked, “Are you going to be in bed again on the weekend? How can we play, mom?”
Then, it hit me. What kind of mom will my daughter have in her mind…and later, in her memory? Someone who’s always working or in bed the whole day?
No, it has to stop.
I need to get back on track and usher back in practices that helped me before. Staying home is great and having the opportunity to work remote is such a blessing. Seriously, let’s thank our leaders and employers if they genuinely care for our health enough that they want us to stay safe at home. But somehow, people continue to complain about dipping sense of wellbeing and an even more blurred line between life and work.
I am sharing with you my top 3 wellbeing practices that helped me in the past years before the pandemic and helped me tremendously again the past days.
3 Wellbeing Practices for Remote Workers
Wellbeing Practice 1: Big Rocks First
In 2007 I was certified (or more like authorized) by my then Company to facilitate First Things First sessions. There are several lessons from this book (audiobook on Scribd) but the one that stood out to me and found absolutely helpful is about addressing the big rocks first. Here’s a video, which I have seen several times but still amazes me, not to mention still makes me laugh. I hope you find this 10-minute video enlightening as well.
Are you familiar with Cortana?
This is your personal productivity assistant in Microsoft 365. If you have O365, I hope you have this enabled. A couple of months ago, my so-called personal productivity assistant told me that I am doing really poor time management. I’m sure that was not the exact verbiage used but that’s that. And why did Cortana tell me this? It (or he or she) said that this is because email messages are read and replied to on 5-minute average.
Which is great for the person who sent me the message. But I realized that this is highly disruptive. In a bad way. My ability to focus was hampered because I could not really build a momentum because I tackle the emails as soon as possible. All because I am irked seeing unread messages (the term in Filipino is ‘gigil’) in my inbox. And these days, I find myself guilty of the same. These are the small rocks that may take the whole day and still more. Then the day passes without any true productive output.
So, big rocks first. I now set-time also for the small rocks but not until I work on my big rocks first.
Wellbeing Practice 2: Create a Ritual to Separate Work Time and Personal Time
Ironically, the best way to achieve work/life harmony and effective integration is to separate the two. There’s time for everything.
My client was having problems with work-life balance starting when her company sent them home to work remote. She said, “I used to work 8 hours to10 hours tops. Now I work almost the entire day.” She further shared that the work load is the same, that she worked with the same set of leaders and teammates.
So, what changed?
Later, after sharing and asking more questions, she realized that it is the lack of structure, the lack of an established routine that was making it difficult for her. “Before, around lunch time, I know I should have finished this much work and by end of shift I would have completed all my articles. Now, because I can eat when I want, no more teammates inviting me for lunch, I tend to procrastinate and don’t notice the time pass.”
She then created a structure in her day, regardless if she’s alone or with her teammates, she can now keep work time to when it should be, without overtaking her whole take.
Look back to when you went to the office. At the start of shift what were your routine? How about in the middle? Or at the end of your shift? These routines or rituals create patterns in your mind. These also help you psychologically prepare for the next part of your day. Your personal life.
How can you create this rituals/structures/routines?
For me, I started setting up and packing up. In the past year, I left my work stuff on the table and just put them away in the weekend for cleaning. Now, I ensure to do this every day, much like before in the office. It psychologically prepares me to turn from being a mother and wife to being an employee and from being an employee to mother and wife. That, plus prayers before my shift.
How do you separate work and life in your remote work arrangement?
Wellbeing Practice 3: Five Minutes or More of Exercise, Daily
Rob Fletcher, the creator of “America’s Next Great Trainer (ANGT),” says that a simple 5-minute exercise routine can make a big difference. In fact, he challenges his clients to a seven-day jump-start challenge, where he asks them to set aside just 5 minutes each day to work out.
Working out just five minutes daily via a practice described as “strength training for your breathing muscles” lowers blood pressure and improves some measures of vascular health as well as, or even more than, aerobic exercise or medication, new CU Boulder research shows.
And this is not entirely personal. This is also very important in the employee’s work and productivity as reached done by Gallup revealed.
“Those interconnected elements of wellbeing touch the lives of remote workers just as much as anyone else — but right now, leaders need to be particularly attuned to remote workers’ physical wellbeing. They won’t get exercise from climbing office stairs or walking the halls like they used to, and few homes feature a salad bar like company cafeterias do. Meanwhile, gyms are closing all over the country, people may not want to brave crowded stores to buy healthy food, and in-home quarantines may plant people inside for weeks.
“But remote workers can still achieve physical wellbeing — and should, for their sake and your productivity. This is what you should encourage them to do.” Read the full article by Ryan Wolf and Adam Hickman, Ph.D. here.
Of course you will say that you are busy and there’s not enough time. And this is exactly when Basketball and Corporate Agile Coach Chot Reyes would say, “Flip the Script!”
Your turn. What wellbeing practices have you started/will you start doing to be better this year? Don’t wait til you’re plastered in bed like me to realize and make necessary changes. And remember, there is no one set that is effective for everyone. It depends on your personality and unique set of strengths.