The reality for many working people right now is having to make the transition back to an office setting outside of the comfort of home. There are pros and cons to working exclusively from home as well, which I am sure if you have experienced both settings you can relate to this sentiment. The pandemic brought many abrupt changes and challenges upon every age group to work through as far as schooling and work goes. Today, I want to provide you all with a handful of tips that I believe will be helpful for you as you navigate this transition:
Be Patient and Slow Down
You have been in the office before, right? So, it should be a piece of cake to come back, right? Wrooong. Just as much as we never anticipated a global pandemic to occur in our lifetimes, we also could not have predicted to have to develop completely new routines and expectations at home for work only to switch back again. Be kind to yourself as you get back into the swing of things and expect discomfort to occur. As with any transition, you can expect ripples in the current as you navigate a ‘new’ way of doing things. Taking things slow will help you ease into the water and keep your needs in check as you work through this shift.
Flexibility in your expectations and goals during this transition is completely important. I always tell people to normalize moving your goal posts depending on the moment. Sometimes the perfectionist in all of us tells us to take on too much or expect ourselves to perform at 100% every day even when that is not possible or realistic. Staying flexible will help you be attuned to your needs as well as increase your ability to recognize small successes along the way. If one day you get less done than the day before, welcome that change. Your body or mind are telling you to take a step back and that is okay and necessary. If you take on too much, you may lead to more sloppiness or inability to follow through, which then leads to negative self-talk and well… you know how that goes!
I find that having rituals in place during a transition can often help you feel anchored, grounded, and otherwise able to experience consistency in a time where you need it. In a time where you do not feel like you are in control, take something you CAN control and control the s*** out of it! Rituals can look different for everyone, whether it is something small like sitting in the same seat for breakfast before work, having a spa night on Tuesdays with yourself, or listening to a particular pump-up song that you love during your commute. Rituals can also include others in your circle, such as having a game or movie night on Friday nights, baking cookies every Sunday afternoon with your kids, or a date night with your partner on Wednesdays. Having these experiences set in stone in your schedule (and NOT letting them be optional) can help you feel a sense of excitement and predictability in your week while also ensuring that you are prioritizing your personal life.
Communication is key! There are a ton of layers and barriers to effective communication at times and I understand that. At a basic level, check in often with yourself as far as how you are feeling, what you need, what small challenges you feel confident about taking on next, and what you are doing well. Doing check ins with yourself and writing things down will help you feel centered. By doing so we can also add a layer of delegating when necessary, asking others for support, or simply prioritizing positive connection when we need it. Experiencing the pandemic has shown us what we need as far as an effective workspace as well as what good teamwork and support looks like. Push yourself to advocate and follow through with what you need to SAY to yourself and others in order to do your best at work.
Stay in the Present
A big part of mindfulness challenges us to welcome ‘What If...?’ thinking but only if we are doing it in a controlled way. A lot of us are likely familiar with these kinds of thoughts: ‘What if this happens?’ or ‘What if things don’t go well?’ For every time these thoughts pop up, it is important that you also consider that something you are worried about happening may not happen that way and that things also have a chance to go very well. Whenever we are lost in imagining the worst outcome, we typically lose sight of the possibility that things could go to plan or even better than expected. The bigger picture here, though, is that these thought pathways tend to bring us entirely out of the present because we are so consumed with future-focused thinking. Take each moment as it comes and allow things the opportunity to surprise you. You know what you are doing, trust that!
Keep it Fun
I am big advocate in prioritizing fun and lightheartedness in everything. Make your workspace inviting, bring your favorite teas or snacks, take breaks during the day to dance it out or laugh with a co-worker, and HOLD yourself to that. Do not let yourself drink from an empty cup. Allow fun, humor, and positive connection to take precedence. You will for sure be your most productive self if you are letting your personality shine and setting boundaries between work and personal enjoyments at work. People talk often about work/life balance, but I challenge you to take it a step further and have a balance at work between productivity and self-care.
I hope these tips help you work through this transition back into your workspace. Even if you have stayed working outside of home throughout the pandemic due to the nature of your job or are still able to work from home, I believe these tips are useful for anyone of us to develop your ideal workspace and prioritize yourself in the process. I am rooting for you!