Virtual collaboration has seen a different meaning at the time of lockdown. It has taken me time to cope with this new normal.. here is what helped me stay course.
2020 began with my big plans to bring few things back to my life - those that were dear but somehow, I lost track of them in the last year. And come January, I was excited to finally plan & book my dive trip and get started again. That meant, just when COVID -19 was picking pace I was flying around the country (domestic thankfully) and managed to get home only to be self-quarantined for 14 days. While I had flown within the country, the mere exposure to the airports made it seem like the right thing to do. And even before my self-quarantine was over, India went into a 21-day lockdown. Life changed for all of us.
I had not given much thought to the idea of self-isolation (self-quarantine literally meant no human contact for me and I was certainly not ready for what came next!). And I struggled to figure how I will swim this out. It has been a journey (& its far from over) but here are my thoughts on how I was able to cope with my new life.
- Stick to your routine: Self quarantine and lockdown does not mean you are on an endless holiday (although instantaneously it can feel like one and that can take you off course). So don’t take your eye off your daily schedule & activities in your everyday life. Look at this as an opportunity to define your life in the new world. While you may not be able to do everything the way you would before, reflect on each activity and find creative ways to achieve the same outcome while being at home.
- Make time for those you care: In recent times, we allowed the pace of life to take decisions that may not have left the right amount of time for friends and family. We have all made compromises – chosen one over the other. Reflecting on those decisions, I now wonder why there was no urge to do things differently. Social isolation gave me time to reflect on life, appreciate the simple pleasures & few people who matter – take the moment to feel this stillness, question what is important or not and take the time to reach out to those you care and share the life now. It is the friends and family that have stayed connected with me in the past 14 days and so, while I am isolated, I am not alone.
- Try the Digital Gym: Our physical well-being is even more critical now and needs attention. While you are confined to your house, you don’t have to skip your exercise every day. Leverage technology and bring your trainer into your home. It’s a great way to start the day and makes up for the lack of mobility in our life during this lockdown. I have been doing my sessions on FaceTime and those 60 minutes of workout keeps me active & focused through the day.
- Read the news: Stick to your routine of reading the news like you usually do. Don’t suddenly start looking at the news app every hour for updates on COVID19 – it will do no good and may just add to unrequired anxiety. Stick to your regular habit of staying updated, you will not miss the important news.
- Eat & drink right: Staying home can really test our ability to be disciplined in our food habits. Eating too much (binging out of boredom) or too less (because you suddenly not hungry as much) can both be disastrous & unsustainable. Make a mental note to hydrate enough – the body may not feel thirsty but still needs the water intake. Not doing this right can lead to lethargy and impact productivity as well as the minds ability to focus, ideate or contribute.
- Make time for what is important & stay course on your personal goals: Lockdown and self-isolation has changed life for us and many things that we would otherwise be busy doing are no longer an option. That can feel like we have a lot of time at hand suddenly and it is very easy to pass time doing nothing constructive unless we have a plan to stay course. So, reflect and think about those goals, make the action plan, identify how you can initiate during this time and make sure you do not lose sight of what is important. Read more, learn new skills, write those blogs, paint or chat with the people who can help you think & plan. Stay focused!
- Own your calendar & bake in those breaks in your day: Working from home can be tricky. You may appear ‘Available online’ to your team & stakeholders and if you have a global team, that can get out of hands. Your virtual team has no way of knowing you are free, tired or truly available for a discussion unless you let them know. Leverage technology to do that. It’s important you manage your calendar to be more effective– bake in those breaks to get up, stand, move a little & get that cup of coffee or water. And for those who also have children, parents & family in the house … if you need to attend to your child’s activity or cook lunch put that on the calendar so you don’t miss the important things at work or at home.
- Continue those coffee breaks: Yes we can’t walk down to the cafeteria/ coffee shop anymore but the coffee chats have always been refreshing in the middle of a busy day so why stop. Make your coffee, get your team/ colleague on Video and just chat for 15 minutes. It can be very energizing, and we need this even more now that we are mostly away from usual opportunities of corridor/ watercooler socializing.
Rajlakshmi Saikia is a Global Capability Leader at Genpact. She has over 16 years of diverse experience in talent development, learning technology & talent marketing accomplishments in start-up & large scale organizations, including involvement in managing new initiatives in learning technology, user experience, change management & communication. She was featured as the Top 40 HR leaders in India by Jombay ( #HR40Under40) as well as listed in the Top 50 HR Influencers in India by SHRM.