If we want results, we need space.
Space to think.
Space to work.
Space to dream.
Space to create.
So what do we do now? How do we cope when everything happens in the same space all of the time?
Here’s how I’ve been doing it in my space:
Most of us are used to having different spaces for different parts of our life. We go to work, school, the gym, restaurants, theaters, hair salons…you get the picture. Being in those specific places provides a container to hold our intentions. The space supports the thing we are trying to accomplish. Maybe it’s a delicious meal with friends or the final details on a client pitch.
Our brains like this space. Like the space between the notes in your favorite song, space helps us separate the distinct aspects of our lives. When we’re done at the office and we get on the train (or on our bike or in our cars), we leave the work space and can shift into a new mode.
This is not a new issue. We don’t always leave work at the office or our personal lives at the door during client meetings. Right now, however, we’re feeling the heat at a whole new level.
Are you supposed to clean up the dishes from breakfast or prep for that zoom call? Is it time for a walk or do you need to review your kid’s homework assignment? It can all overlap into an instant pot of stress stew.
We need to find other ways to tell our brains: Hey! We’re done here. Let’s move on.
Try on a New Habit
Where can you add habits to open and close different parts of your day?
- Close the laptop lid.
- Turn off the light in the office.
- Light a candle or incense before yoga class.
- Put the weights, mat, etc back where they belong.
- And for crying out loud, put the record back in the sleeve!
Different habits will work for different people so play around until you find what works for you.
Use Your Words
At the office, I’d start my day greeting colleagues as I came in, followed by some light conversation while I’m making my tea and then I’d get going. It gave my brain time to move into work mode. Lately I catch myself sliding into my first zoom without giving my brain the transition time it needs to ramp up.
Since my brain and voice both prefer a warm up, I make space for breakfast banter with my partner in crime. In addition to covering typical to-dos and zoom times, we throw in funny and false descriptions of what’s on our plate (well, funny to us at least). He’ll joke about being backlogged in the mail room. I’ll complain that month end reports are due in 10 minutes. Luckily, these bits crack us both up. Find what’s funny to you.
Warm up completed, it’s time to go to work. I’ve got an ever changing supply of catch phrases I’ll say out loud or to myself: Five minutes to curtain, Ms. Thornley….Time to make the donuts… Let’s do this. Pick one that makes you smile.
When you’re done with work for the day, say a phrase to acknowledge it. Cal Newport, who wrote my favorite book on focus “Deep Work” uses the magic phrase: “schedule, shutdown, complete.” You can read about his technique here. My magic phrases are: and…scene or that’s a wrap!
You can use the power of words to signal a start or stop to anything throughout the day. I randomly throw in Vamos a la playa (let’s go to the beach) to break up the day and remind myself to chill out. Maybe it’s Your table for 3 is now ready or Soup’s on! for meals.
What words work for you? If you have kids, let them pick the words so they’re invested in them too.
You may not be able to change your environment, but you can change how you show up in it. How you dress impacts how you feel. You may not want to wear a suit working from your sofa. However, if you’re presenting to a client, dress how you would if you were showing up for it in person…yes, that means putting on pants ;).
Another example shows up in Kung Fu practice. We all show up in our uniforms. Even though it’s over zoom and we’re at home, we still wear them. We also bow to start and bow to close. These habits mean our practice has a clear beginning, middle and end. It’s not just a class. It’s a ritual.
Keep it super simple (KISS).
Start with one thing. Do that one thing for a week.
Space (in our brains and our homes) allows for better results and, more importantly, allows us to feel better about the results we are getting.
What will you play around with today to create more space?
To learn more about how Emotional Intelligence coaching and trainings could benefit you and your organization, click here.