Healthy Habits to thrive during lockdown

Many of us will be back to full “working from home” mode this week as the UK and many other nations go back into another lockdown.

Like everyone else, our staff team has had to figure how to work remotely from home and as a team, and here are some of the habits and rhythms I have articulated to keep ourselves, and us as a team, healthy and productive as possible.

Maybe you can apply some to your own situation, or let me know via comment anything else that you have found helpful:

  1. Personal rhythms working from home
    • You don’t have to be – and should not be – available 24/7 online! 
    • Use your calendar to plan your day and week, and to show colleagues when you are on/off, and when you are meeting people. 
    • Have your team share their work calendars so we can see who’s doing what when. 
    • Take a lunch break offline every day – calendar it, and then get up from your desk when your calendar says it’s lunchtime! 
    • Get out of the house once a day! 
    • Talk a walk a day. Do some exercise.  
    • Consider your workspace, your chair, desk hight etc. Bad posture won’t do you any good over the long run.
    • Read a book… on paper. Try to get away from your screen.
  2. Online meeting habits: Here are some tips to keep meetings meaningful and focussed: 
    • Be careful of “death by meeting”! Be very clear about the “why” and what every meeting is for. Don’t duplicate. Understand what other meetings your colleagues are attending. 
      • Tip: Get the “big rocks” into your team calendar first. We schedule our regular crucial all-together and department meetings first, and then next level meetings around those. 
    • Always have an agenda out before a meeting. Be clear on the Why? & What? Of every meeting. Share an agenda on a google doc before, so others can input information before so you don’t need to wait for it while online. 
    • Shorter is usually sweeter. Don’t default to the one-hour meeting setting. Do you really need 60 minutes? Why not 15 or 20 minutes? Or 30? 
      • Tip: At the start of a meeting, say how long you have, or it will be. It’s much easier to manage when everyone knows. 
    • Participation. Use Zoom breakout rooms for short times of connection and interaction during meetings. These get everyone involved, rather than meetings being just one-way monologues. 
      • Tip: As appropriate, have some personal sharing included in breakout rooms which allows team members to express themselves, for example have a 10/15 minute breakout room with max 4 per room sharing “What’s one thing that you enjoyed about work in this past week?” or “What’s one thing you think we did well as a team in the past month?” etc. (Be careful of starting with asking for what isn’t working or just “do you have any feedback?” These can come later once trust is strong.) 
  3. Communication
    • For non-urgent emails, instead of just using “send”, use “schedule” to send at the start of the next day or afternoon, or Monday.  Remember: Every message you send disrupts someone’s concentration for 20 minutes or more. Is your question worth that, or can it wait to be sent once a day? 
    • Unless you definitely need an urgent reply, don’t Whatsapp work related messages in evenings, off days and weekends,  Again: Schedule these if you don’t want to forget, but don’t dump your urgent items on other peoples off time unless absolutely necessary.  
    • Online communication culture: We don’t use our keyboards to communicate or respond to conflict or negative emotion. Instead we pick up the phone to talk it through. And we use the agreed “Crucial Conversations” process to get good outcomes from these situations (See The Art of Loving Well Book, the chapter on “The Art of Engaging Well” – order here)
      1. Create safety
      2. Engage with the Facts
      3. Express your Preferences
      4. Negotiate Agreement.
    • Change communication modes from time to time. Instead of video calling, just phone. Or use Facetime instead of Zoom. change things up a bit to keep it fresh. 
  4. Feeling our feelings well. We acknowledge that the significant change and uncertainty that COVID has brought on us is bound to affect us emotionally and even relationally. What’s going on in you will come out of you. In order to “feel our feelings completely and discharge them safely”, use the “Explore the Iceberg exercise with someone close to you or in a group, considering what you are “Anxious, Sad, Mad, & Glad” about. For example, in my church world, I suggest our staff read these two articles below that may help to give voice to some things you/we may be feeling, and help us navigate through this next season. 
    • “5 Fears about reopening that staff are not telling their leaders” – here. 
    • “What church leaders are really thinking” – read here 

YOUR APPLICATION: What are the 1-3 items from my list that you can/should apply in your own situation to help you thrive?

I hope that helps. Let me know via comments what others healthy habits you or your team have adopted to thrive in this season.


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