No one is immune to upheaval.
Amidst COVID-19, our work and lives have been turned upside down. Social isolation has led to loneliness, and we’ve seen a significant uptick in mental health issues caused by uncertainty and anxiety. If you’re a parent, you have the added pressure of homeschooling. Without organized summer activities for kids, it’s even more difficult to balance childcare and work.
And yet, once people started adjusting to the initial shock of the pandemic, many found unexpected silver linings. The trick, now that you’ve identified those bright spots, is figuring out how to hold on to them as cities open up and companies start returning people to work.
During the last few months, many people have recognized that they don’t want to go back to how things were; they’re looking for a better “new normal.” People are running fewer errands and saving time as they rely on delivery for everything from clothes to groceries and toilet paper.
With business travel on hold, couples are spending more time together. Working parents are seeing their children reach milestones they would normally miss.
The nationwide enforced slow down has helped many people see (probably for the first time) how overscheduled their lives had become and the toll it was taking.
Before you fall back into your old routines, it’s not too late to create a plan to fully integrate your new habits.
Reflect on what parts of your life have changed for the better by asking yourself these questions:
1. What are you doing now that you find energizing and don’t want to give up?
2. How are you making time for things that earlier seemed impossible to fit in?
3. Where are you spending time in a way that’s more aligned with your values?
As a working mom of two teens who runs a business, I found it useful to split my list of benefits into work versus personal.
Here’s what I came up with:
>> Not commuting saves time and money and is good for the environment. I used to work from home one or two days a week. Now I’ll definitely do that more.
>> Remote work increases my ability to work when I’m most productive and be there for my kids when they need me.
>> My team and I are checking in more often and finding ways to support each other. That includes everything from sending a card or care package to dropping off freshly baked bread or cookies on the porch.
>> Virtual events are easy for people to attend from home, making them more accessible. Even when we can safely gather again, my team is planning to keep at least half of our events virtual.
>> People are building closer, more intimate relationships. Kids on laps, dogs barking in the background, and cats strolling across the screen have become welcome distractions and conversation starters. We know each other better than we did before. Why give that up?
>> I’ve reconnected with friends and family members all over the world to catch up and see how they’re doing. My kids used to see their cousins just twice a year, but now they have weekly Zoom calls.
>> I’ve always enjoyed walking. Now I’m taking longer walks and even added an extra workout (in my case Zoom pilates). It’s a good reminder to prioritize exercise more than before.
>> I’m cooking more, which results in healthier eating. Even if I haven’t prepared anything for lunch, it’s easy to throw together a quick salad. And I can prep veggies during the day so they’re ready in time for dinner. I’ve experimented with homemade granola, granola bars, and trail mix cookies and fallen in love with those recipes.
>> While it’s not always easy to be cooped up with two teenagers (for them or me), I’m grateful for the time together. I’ve particularly enjoyed the extra time with my son, who’s leaving for college in the fall.
>> Knowing so many people are in need right now has increased the urgency of giving. Whether that means donating extra to the food bank or coaching people who have lost their jobs, I’ve found more ways to give than ever before.
Making Change Last
Once you have your list, think about what matters most to you and how to make space even as life returns to its new normal. While your work schedule may change, increasing your awareness about what’s important enables you to be intentional about your choices. It’s up to you what you make time for.
Creating a plan now puts you one step ahead as your schedule shifts, and work (or life in general) demands change. Afraid it won’t stick? Sharing your plan out loud with at least one person, whether that’s a friend, spouse, coach, or colleague, greatly increases your chance of success.