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Coronavirus Preparedness At Lighthouse

2020 “Work-Life Balance” Survival Guide

By Nikki MacCallum

2020 continues to be quite a year. For most individuals, priorities and metrics have shifted dramatically, both personally and professionally. Regardless of your scenario, change is hard and change has been a primary theme of the past year. Change and ambiguity are humanity’s two worst mental health nightmares! While it’s easy to play the comparison game, it’s important to remember that no one gets a trophy for having it the worst. All you get is a dire situation. The world has been turned upside down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, putting a significant amount of stress on you, your employees, and team members. Some individuals are juggling the facilitation of remote learning for their children while trying to hold a full-time job. Others are in isolation battling severe depression and anxiety. Some of your team members might even be caring for an ill family member or experiencing some type of loss or burden that you aren’t even aware is happening. Some might be operating at such a fast pace that they don’t even realize how stressed they are!

The important thing to remember is that we’re all in this together and that we also need to pay close attention to our own wellbeing during this time. Just as we can all be extra understanding of the needs of our team members, we also need to take extra care with ourselves and set boundaries so we can all be the best versions of our pandemic selves. This blog will address five tips for surviving the pandemic.

  1. Cut yourself slack. None of us are at our best right now. My motto for the year has been “set the bar low.” With that in mind, remember that regardless of your home situation, no one is really set up for success. I have friends and colleagues who’ve found themselves in a position where they’re juggling new careers as second grade teachers with full-time jobs. There is no way those individuals can be expected to perform at the level at which they were performing when their kids were in daycare. Personally, I feed off of the energy of others, so it has become increasingly difficult for me to complete tasks in isolation while staring at a computer screen all day. Things that used to take me five minutes now take me an hour. While of course it is important to do the best you can and continue to strive to exceed expectations, beating yourself up for being less than your best is not productive in this climate.
  2. Set boundaries. If you don’t set boundaries for yourself, no one else will. This one is particularly intimidating, especially with the volatile and unpredictable state of the economy, because almost everyone is striving for job security. Evaluate for yourself what it takes for you to be a productive employee and stick to it. For me, I need to get a run in in the morning and will not schedule meetings before 9 a.m. I know that if I do not get that run in, I will be half as productive, will have low energy, and it will totally disrupt my day. Maybe for you, it’s taking an hour lunch every day, teaching your children remote learning for a certain period of time, or allowing for a thirty-minute meditation. Block off those times on your calendar, stick to them, and don’t apologize for it! If a team member puts a meeting on your calendar during a time you feel you need in order to be successful, it is okay to decline. It is also okay to reschedule meetings. It’s important to remember that you are allowed to be unavailable and you are responsible for your own needs being met. Do not make your time less important than someone else’s, regardless of what you’re using that time for.
  3. It’s okay to do things halfway as opposed to not at all. This tip came from a colleague of mine who is currently handling remote learning for a five-year-old as well as holding a full-time job in a fast-paced industry. At first, it gave me pause, but after talking with her in detail it struck me as a very helpful piece of advice that I hadn’t thought of before. She articulated that often times she won’t start making dinner or won’t start doing a project because she feels like she doesn’t have time to complete it. As a result, both personal and professional tasks keep getting put off. My takeaway from our conversation was that it is okay to start a task even if you can’t finish it at that moment. You will still have less to do at the end of the day and it is a helpful strategy in terms of maximizing time.
  4. Try your best not to take things personally. It’s not all about you. This is one I often need to remind myself of, as many times when a colleague is struggling my first thought is “how could I have helped more, is their bad mood a result of me, or why did they use a period in their email when they normally use exclamation marks?” In addition, sometimes when I receive an email with a shorter tone I tend to infer that the individual might be angry with me. It is more important than ever to remember that everyone is struggling right now and it’s not all about you! If someone sends you a short email, before getting defensive, try to take a pause and ask yourself, “Could they be dealing with struggles that have nothing to do with me?” The good news is, the answer is always yes!
  5. Remember to laugh. I recommend taking this time to put extra effort into making your colleagues laugh and be sure to take time to laugh yourself! At the end of the day, we’re all in this together, and making each other laugh is one way we can surely enhance connection and productivity in this virtual world. For what it’s worth, I’m also more motivated to get work done for colleagues who always approach me with a positive attitude, laugh at my jokes, and make me laugh. It adds value to my day!

Cut yourself slack, set boundaries, do things halfway as opposed to not at all, don’t take things personally, and remember to laugh! If you can follow these five principles you will likely yield higher productivity and a better version of work-life balance. Everyone wins!

If you have questions about this blog article or want to chat about the concept further, please feel free to reach out to me at NMacCallum@lighthouseglobal.com.

Nikki MacCallum

Nikki MacCallum brings over thirteen years of experience in the executive search space with a focus on litigation technology and eDiscovery. She’s spoken on panels and at conferences nation-wide (ABC News, Women in eDiscovery, LegalTech, CALSM, ARIAS) and was recently the key note speaker for a global Career Panel Workshop at American Express. Nikki is also a resident speaker at New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless where she privately mentors underprivileged women looking to re-enter the workforce.

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