Feel like jumping into pajamas and hopping back into bed to binge-watch series all day, without your phone? Yup, me too. If I’m being really honest, today is a bit of a weird one and I’m not ashamed to say that. So if it’s been a rough week for you and you need a little heart-to-heart real talk, settle in, grab a coffee and let’s chat availability.
Lockdown is surreal, isn’t it? One day you feel like you’re smashing your To-Do list like a boss, and the next, you feel bouts of panic or totally uninspired and lethargic. Newsflash… We’re living through a global pandemic right now– as in not a normal period. So to expect that everything needs to carry on as it was before (or for us to be EXTRA productive because there’s suddenly more time) is a bit unrealistic, to say the least.
Everyone is dealing with their own stuff in their own way – they’re just not sharing it all on social media.
THE PRESSURE TO DO IT ALL
There’s so much pressure to come out of this as the next super entrepreneur, MasterChef, or home fitness expert. To cook gourmet meals, to do as many digital courses and webinars as possible, and to be available for every Zoom, WhatsApp and Skype chat – planned or otherwise. What a lot of people seem to forget, is that – yes, we might have more time in the day to do things, BUT we have less energy.
Less energy because of the heaviness of it all.
And the online overwhelm…
When we’re not worrying about the future or trying to motivate ourselves to have a productive day, we’re muting, unfollowing, and deleting the never-ending stream of noise suddenly flooding our social media feeds and inboxes. We’re agonizing over how to politely tell a friend that, sorry, we can’t reply to every message instantaneously. We’re asking each other how to leave a family group chat that’s panic-sharing non-stop Coronovirus updates – without hurting anyone’s feelings.
As incredible as it is to stay connected online (and aren’t we glad this isn’t 2001?!), it can get a bit much.
We’re not all the same. Some people need more online connection, and some people need less.
CONNECTING ONLINE TAKES ENERGY
We forget what a big deal energy is, especially at a time like this. As an introvert and empath, I’ve finally learned how to manage my energy levels. When we went to New York five years ago, those midday naps between overwhelming museum visits and crowded street walks were essential. Recharge time.
So were the extra bathroom trips to escape feeling everyone’s stressed out, anxiety-driven vibes when I worked in an open-plan office.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because I see the struggle to balance energy – or rather, to prioritise it. I hear it from friends over WhatsApp and I read about it on social media. Who knew a global pandemic would spotlight the need for healthier boundaries and better energy management? Personally, I had no idea so many people were feeling guilty about taking breaks between tasks or feeling completely stressed out about being available to colleagues, clients and managers every minute of the workday.
We hustle like we’ve got this on and off switch at the start and end of each day.
We somehow expect this never-ending supply of mental and physical energy during a time of uncertainty and the entire world being on a “great pause.” The pressure to keep going and pushing without making space for recharging, refuelling and resetting isn’t sustainable.
We’re not robots (just in case you’re being led to believe this!)
WE NEED OUR OWN VERSION OF THE “PAUSE” BUTTON
Maybe that looks like switching your phone off for a few hours a day and not being so available. I spoke to a friend last week who works for a company that does that. They call it the “dark session” – each workday between 9am and 12pm everyone works on their “rock” (one big project) for the day. There are no meetings, no interruptions, and no calls during that time unless it’s absolutely urgent. How amazing is that?!
I make it a habit to turn my phone off regularly for a few hours here and there – especially when I’m writing, otherwise, I’d never get anything done.
Productivity 101 – mute or turn off distractions!
You don’t need to be available to everyone all the time unless you really want to be. It’s as simple as that.
Yet we overthink and complicate it so quickly.
Because we want to give more, be more, and not let anyone down.
I get it.
YOUR PHONE – PERSONAL LIFE VS WORK LIFE
In a time when just about everyone is online, the lines between personal life and work-life have blurred overnight. We need better boundaries. We need to manage expectations for instant replies. Do we really need to be in that Zoom meeting? And let’s not forget about the hive of digital clutter we need to wade through daily on social media. I don’t know about you, but I’m spending a lot more time opting out of emails, unfollowing “me, me, me” accounts, and muting repetitive advertising for this exclusive members-only club or that “life-changing” course we all need right NOW.
Thankfully we have options to limit that.
We also have the choice to communicate what we need.
I’ve gotten really honest with friends and family about online communication. I might take a few days or a week to reply to long voice notes. I might need to turn my phone off for a bit. And if we’re having a weekly Skype catch-up, I need time to plan ahead for that (not on the day confirmation).
I’ve also had to get real about the way I work. I had a GREAT routine before all this – I was a morning person. I’m no longer a chipper morning person. Some nights I work till 11pm. Some days I struggle to be productive. It’s not because I’m lazy or I don’t have my sh%t together or I’m not trying hard enough. It’s just a weird time.
This isn’t a post advocating for laziness or being negative.
It’s about energy management and setting boundaries. It’s about not feeling burned out because we’re trying to be superwoman, doing all the things and putting self-care on the back-burner so we don’t cause any type of conflict.
And we’re slowly creating our own versions of a new normal.
On that note, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, too available, or unable to focus – let whoever needs to know know, and turn your phone off for an hour or six. I promise it’s not that scary the second time around.