Staying Engaged When Working Remotely

I’ve been working from home for years and I absolutely love it.

  • I don’t have to spend loads of time togging up – I can’t tell you how much I love the days when I can be relaxed and comfy working in my PJ’s and Ugg boots.
  • I have flexibility and freedom to manage my time – some days I’ll work from 5.30 or 6am until the kids get up, then switch off to ferry the kids to school, bounce home again to do a short yoga practice and get myself focused again, then dive back into things.
  • I can work in spaces that facilitate the work I’m trying to do – depending on what I’m doing, I move around the house and use different spaces to help me most effectively engage with the task at hand. If I’m thinking and reflecting to generate a solution, I’ll sit outside in the backyard. When gathering my thoughts and making notes I’ll sit on the couch. If I’m immersing myself in reading or material, I might relax on the bed. And when doing some heavy lifting on preparation and documentation, I’ll spread out across the kitchen table. Admin, organisation and logistics all happen in the office.

  • I have quietude and space – while I still ferry kids to school and travel to meet clients, I’m not in the rat race of the peak commute each day. Aside from the positive impact on my sanity , the time I don’t spend travelling creates a spaciousness in my day and brings a more calm, measured pace that helps me stay present and focussed.

 

Although there are loads of great things about working from home, this sudden shift, for many of us, will represent a significant change in the way we work.

Moreover, and while many people already work remotely to an extent – one or some days a week – doing it every day over a sustained period of time is altogether another matter.

Below are some tips around staying engaged as we start to work remotely on a wider and more sustained basis.

For those of us with Extroverted preferences

Although some people may relish the peace and quietude of silence and solitude to get their work done, this type of environment can send others positively stir crazy. Notably, those with more extroverted tendencies.

Working remotely and with limited face to face interaction has the potential to make extroverts very quickly feel isolated, disconnected, de-motivated and left out in the cold. After all, more extroverted individuals often feel highly stimulated, engaged and energised by the immediacy of interaction with others.

Office environments naturally offer a space for the type of interaction extroverts seek. Working at home on the other hand, puts up a very physical geographical barrier to the moments that arise naturally throughout the day – chatting with the barista as we order our coffee, exchanging chit chat in the lift on the way upstairs, catching up as we cross paths in the kitchen, or dropping by our colleagues desk to check in.

For those of us who are more extroverted, working from home doesn’t have to mean instant isolation. Rather, it just means we need to be more deliberate and conscious in creating opportunities to engage with those we work with AND with those around us.

  • Take advantage of the fact you don’t have to race out of the house to catch the bus or train – enjoy a proper sit down coffee or breakfast with the people you live with or make a video call to check in on a family member or close friend.
  • Schedule morning team break and be deliberate in taking the time to stop mid-morning – make a tea or coffee, step outside and connect with someone you work with. Schedule this time in your calendar and use it to help you foster meaningful relationships with your colleagues and teammates.
  • Find the fun – be creative in finding new ways to connect and work with your colleagues. Perhaps you’re looking to run brainstorming sessions, unpack problems and explore solutions. Have fun looking for, sharing and leveraging interactive technologies that enable you to be together, share ideas and engage real-time.

For those of us with Introverted preferences

Those of us who lean more to the introverted side of things, working remotely has the potential to be positively blissful. None of those constant interruptions with people dropping by your desk, peace and quiet away from crazy, noisy open-plan offices, a welcome break from the intensity of face to face meetings where everyone talks over the top of you and want everything now.

Yes. Bliss sweet bliss it is to work at home for individuals with introverted tendencies.

The challenge here, however, is that those of us who identify as introverts may retreat altogether into this naturally preferred habitat. Perhaps never to be seen or heard of again. At least until we email the final deliverable or announce the solution has been implemented.

For those of us who are more introverted, working from home may mean we need to be careful not to retreat too far. Staying connected is critical to stakeholder engagement and overall receptiveness to the solutions we generate and recommendations we make.

  • Be deliberate to check back in with the mothership each day – even if it’s just to report on progress, ask questions or re-assess priorities.
  • Proactively engage with your colleagues and stakeholders – don’t leave them behind and out in the cold as you power forward in the sweet bliss of your newly found peace and quiet. Take some time to stop and reach out to your colleagues and stakeholders to get their feedback, input and perspectives. This doesn’t always have to be a call. You might send a quick poll to check in with where everyone is at.
  • Speak up on calls – don’t let the motor-mouths dominate remote meetings. Take a deep breath in and speak up when you have something to say. Trust me, they need to hear it and it’s worth asserting for the 1-2 seconds that you need to step in a start speaking. If some online meetings are particularly unwieldy and out of hand, approach the organiser separately and perhaps ask them to take a more structured approach to managing discussion and inputs to ensure everyone gets heard.

We have loads more ideas to share with you, and will be doing so over the coming days and weeks.

Next time, we’ll be looking at ways to stay motivated when working remotely. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

With gratitude,

The M.A.D. Team

Image Sourced from Unsplash by; Avi Richards, Dillon Shook, Freestocks and Aleks Dahlberg

 

 

 

 

 

Say Cheese!

Every now and then I run a little social experiment. When I’m walking down the street, I make a point to smile at everyone I walk past. Now, I don’t mean I get in anyone’s face or do anything particularly weird or unusual, just a casual smile and meeting of eyes as you walk on by.

What I love about this is that pretty much everyone responds. Instantly. With a smile.

If they don’t, well, it means they’re in a seriously bad mood or trying very hard not to reciprocate.

This is because smiling is an automatic response and one that occurs so rapidly in the brain, that the mechanism is activated before we realise. It’s a simple and very beautiful thing, this natural human reflex to respond to a smile with a smile.

Unfortunately, when we’re under a lot of stress or we’re having a bad day, the last thing we really want to do is break into a big broad beaming smile. It’s a little like looking back on those family gatherings where someone decides to take a whole group shot and you have to say “cheese” for the camera. By the time the shot gets taken, those broad grins somehow slip into surly grimaces.

Yet we know from the research, that a smile, along with a little humour, offers us one of the fastest ways to re-set, re-balance and re-establish equilibrium through the course of the day.

The good news too is that the smile doesn’t actually have to be real! So the grimace you make as you glare at the camera can actually work. As long as the corners of your mouth are lifted, this physical movement of the facial muscles is enough to pour a wonderful chemical cocktail that cascades through the brain and body to give yourself a little lift.

So next time you’re feeling under the pump, stressed out of your mind, or just plain grumpy, take just one second to stop and life the corners of your mouth.

So here’s to saying “Cheese”!

Its Stress Down Day!

Try this recorded exercise for more details on how to master this breathing technique.

Let us know how you go. And of course, we’d love to hear what you do to stress down too, so do share your ideas.

With gratitude, from all of us at M.A.D. Mindworks.

Happy International Yoga day!

Why not try this simple practice? We’d love to hear how you go. Use this simple breathing to start with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rS5RvOyk2E&feature=youtu.be

Three reflection questions to articulate and position your value

Strengthen Your Core to Support Your Spine

Many of us sit slumped in chairs for long periods of time. This gradually starts to weaken the core. When this happens, we also lose essential support to help the spine stay upright and in a healthy position.

This video demonstrates a simple technique you can engage periodically through the day to re-build your core strength and start to support your spine again.

We teach loads of simple practical techniques like this as part of our Wellbeing & Mindfulness Sessions. If you’re interested to know more, we’d love to hear from you.

Dimensions of Wellbeing

Foster abundance, energy and vitality

Today is World Health Day and a great opportunity to reflect on our wellbeing.  Although it’s a complex concept with many layers of meaning, if you ask most people they’d all agree that their health is important to them. Without good health, it’s much harder to live life to the fullest.

What’s exciting is that wellbeing is starting to be taken far more seriously in the workplace and there is also more and more serious research into the topic from the health sciences to the field of positive psychology.

I like to think of wellbeing as fostering abundance – of energy, vitality and zest for life.

A simple way for us to examine our wellbeing to consider

  1. Are we healthy of mind?
  2. Are we healthy of body?
  3. Are we healthy of spirit?

These are deeply entwined and interrelated with each impacting on, and shaping the other. And for each person, our relative emphasis on these dimensions will inevitably be different. Moreover, what helps one person foster wellbeing in each of these areas will look and feel different to another.

What matters is that you have a balance across all these areas and a variety of tools up your sleeve to help you promote your overall health and wellbeing.

Below are some simple tips for fostering wellbeing.

MIND

  1. Schedule some reflection time – do you start your day booting up your computer and diving straight into email? Each morning for the next week, see if you can start your work day in a different way. Perhaps give yourself 15-30 minutes of quiet reflection time, thinking about the most important tasks you need to achieve, the relationships you want to foster, and the impact you want to have on others in the process. Give yourself an opportunity to focus on what matters most.
  2. Notice the substance and quality of your thoughts – we spend a large part of our day on autopilot and often miss some key opportunities in the process. Periodically throughout the day, take some time to notice the sorts of things you think about. What does the dialogue inside your head sound like? Do you give yourself grief about stuff? Are you preoccupied with small trivial matters? In particular, can you tune into the negative self-talk and rewrite it to be more positive and self-affirming?
  3. Pause – It seems that the pace of work is more and more frantic with each month that passes. We bounce from task to task, meeting to meeting, without much, if any time to think. When you move from one task to another can you stop and take 3 deliberate slows breaths? Give yourself a little mental space.

BODY

  1. Increase your incidental  movement – when it comes to physical wellbeing there’s loads of focus on exercise, and rightly so. But we don’t always have time to hit the gym to bring some movement into our day. Can you expand the way you see ‘exercise’ and look for ways to bring more incidental movement into your day? What opportunities do you have to move more where you are? Can you go for a walk and talk with a colleague, take the stairs, or jump off the bus or train one stop early?
  2. Release tension – we hold a lot of our stress and tension in our bodies. Consider when you’re annoyed or tense what happens to your hands or shoulders or jaw for example.  Can you take a moment to notice the tension you’re holding onto in your body right now? Where it is? What can you do to ease that tension a little? Open and close your hands or roll and relax your shoulders or soften your jaw.
  3. Foster abundance and vitality – our lives are made up of a series of gentle habits. We get home from work, perhaps pour a glass of wine or flop onto the couch to put our feet up. Many of us spend time watching TV or engaging with multimedia. Can you carve out a new habit somewhere in here and opt to make a different choice today? Perhaps you’ll take a walk after dinner or skip the TV and read a book, go into the yard to play with the kids or opt to take a bath.

SPIRIT

  1. Connect with someone – social connection and a sense of belonging are absolutely vital to wellbeing. We come across people all day long, but how often do we take the time to truly connect with them, ask them more than the requisite ‘how are you’ and then take the time to really listen to their response? Is there an opportunity for you to connect more meaningfully with someone today?
  2. A little kindness – it feels good to do good. All the research tells us this. So why not create an opportunity each day to do something small for someone else? It could be a simple as lending an ear or stopping yourself from interrupting to allow them to finish their thought or giving them some positive feedback.
  3. Be generous – like kindness, all the research points to the feel-good component of being generous. And being generous doesn’t have to be with money or things. Are there opportunities for you to be more a little more generous with your time or with your words? Can you find and share the positive in someone or something or bring a little extra energy and enthusiasm to your next meeting? These are all ways of sharing a little something with others and being generous.

World Health Day is a wonderful reminder for all of us to bring our health and wellbeing into conscious focus more often. It can start with bringing one small thing into your day.

Feel free to add and share your own ideas to the list we’ve shared here – we’d love to hear your suggestions!

From all the team at M.A.D. we wish you well!

Get Energised!

Use this breathing technique to generate energy and focus

This recorded breathing practice focusses on extending the inhalation.

When you extend your inhale you activate the Sympathetic Nervous System which has an energizing effect on the body and creates greater mental alertness.

When you listen to the audio recording focus on cultivating a comfortable and soft breathing cycle.

This is best done in the morning as you start your day or at any point in the day when your energy and focus wanes.

Be mindful not to strain or force the breath.

NOTE: DO NOT USE THIS TECHNIQUE if you are asthmatic or prone to respiratory problems.

Feeling like poop.

Feeling like poo!

Wired. Stressed. Exhausted.

This is what my partner says when he’s having a bad day or his body is staging a rebellion – except he says it more emphatically and with a somewhat stronger choice of words.

Let’s face it we can all have a shitty day or sometimes wake up feeling like poop.

 

Perhaps you had too many drinks the night before or a heavy meal that left you wondering why one earth you ate it in the first place. Maybe you’re exhausted after too many tight deadlines or a hectic week running helter skelter chasing your tail. Maybe you’re just plain wired, finding it hard to switch off in order to get a good night sleep.

Whatever the reason – and the list is endless – when we feel like poop, our energy is low, we feel sluggish and it’s hard to focus, be productive or engage with others positively.

The good news is there are some super fast and simple things you can do to get out of the doldrums and pep yourself up.

This month, in the M.A.D. curriculum, we’re focussed on movements that elevate and extend the spine.

The awesome thing about extending the spine is that it’s a natural mood elevator.

Lifting the spine, broadening the chest and opening the arms are expansive movements that make us feel good.

Furthermore, when you sit up straight, you activate a bundle of nerves in the brain stem that instantly make you more attentive and alert.

Your communication will improve and so will your confidence.

So next time you feel like poop, try this simple technique:

 

Energising Breath

It’s an instant pick-me-up. Enjoy!

To find out more about what we do, contact us at M.A.D. Mindworks.

Katherine Mair, M.A.D. Creator

www.madmindworks.com

katherine.mair@madmindworks.com

For related sources see:

Amy Cuddy, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.

Rick Hanson’s, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom.