Feeling that post-lockdown re-entry anxiety? Don’t panic – we’ve got you covered
How ready are you to unpack your PRE-COVID life?
The idea of being able to see your mates and work shoulder-to-shoulder with your colleagues again sounds great – in theory. But if you’re feeling a bit anxious about stepping back into your hectic pre-pandemic life after a year of shuffling around in your
slippers, you’re definitely not alone. Plus, as your diary slowly stacks up with meetings, gym sessions, holidays and nights out, going from zero to 100mph could be the recipe for a burnout.
While our lives were restricted, many of us discovered some stuff we quite like about being forced to slow down and stay at home. Turns out that working in elasticated pants and pottering around making sourdough is kinda nice. There’s no magic formula to getting the balance
‘You need to find what works for you now’
right, but as we dust off our travel pass and prepare to step back into our old lives, is there a way that we can get a sense of normality again without going full throttle back into the fast lane?
We spoke to entrepreneur Grace Beverley, author of Working Hard, Hardly Working: How To Achieve More, Stress Less And Feel Fulfilled (Hutchinson, £16.99, out 15 April) about how to navigate our route back to our old lives without putting our new work/ life balance out of whack. “I really do feel like people have started to examine what kind of balance they want from their lives moving forward,” she tells us. “To do this, you need to work out where your boundaries are, and find what works for you now.”
DITCHING THE 9-5
As the normal working world resumes, many companies are suddenly open to allowing their workers more flexible hours and a few more days working from home after the last year. It’s a great time to strike a balance between the buzz of the office and utilising your “you time” without the slog of a long commute. “Isn’t it good for everyone when an employee is able to structure their lives better?” Grace asks. “The majority of the time, if you allow them that trust and flexibility, that ownership and empowerment of their role, then people respond to it. But just because you’re asking for something doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll get it. If you’re asking to go down to a four-day week, but your work hasn’t been up to scratch recently, then you’re probably not in a position to request that. It’s on you to prove yourself and to build trust. But you definitely won’t get it unless you ask.” If you’re thinking of asking your boss to allow you to organise your time in a more flexible way, Grace advises planning your conversation tactically. “It comes down to knowing your audience. If you’re going to a very traditional manager and saying, “You know what? On Thursdays, I’d really like to start at seven and finish at four,” you know that might not
get the best response. Is there a better way you can present that? Remember, whatever you’re asking for, you need to be able to come with solutions about how that is going to benefit the company, as well.”
BEAT THE BURNOUT
Even if you have negotiated your way to spending more time at home and less time at the office, there’s a danger that working from a DIY desk in the bedroom means you won’t be as effective at switching off. So, creating clear boundaries and making time off a priority will make you a much more productive employee, wherever you set up your laptop. “You can’t expect everyone to always know where your head is at or always have your annual leave in their diary,” Grace says. “It’s important to be able to create those boundaries for yourself. Do you usually check your phone in the evenings after everyone has stopped working? Does that make you feel on top of things, or is that making you feel overwhelmed with a constant sense of impending doom? Work out where your individual boundaries are.”
It’s not just work that can leave you in a spin. A year of sitting on our sofas watching Netflix has helped to us to appreciate a slower pace of life without a diary full of commitments. Grace says, “I know that I really don’t do well if I’m doing something on more than two week nights. So, in my diary, those will be blocked out and – as soon as those two days are filled up – then I’m not doing anything else.” Obviously, it’s up to you to be your own parent, but giving yourself your own curfews really can be the best form of self-care. “It’s about knowing your limits and then being pretty strict with yourself about them,” Grace suggests.