Lockdown has highlighted how much I compartmentalised the roles I play in a day. And how important a strategy this is for me. I needed that time directly before and after a day’s work. Time for me to readjust. Time for me to change my outlook, mindset and, most of all, my priorities. A bit like an actor changing their clothes between scenes to play a different character.
That commute feels like it is gone for the foreseeable future – so what’s the solution?
Well, I could build a home office in the garden and walk very, very slowly each day to and from my house, but I figured that was pretty futile, not to mention expensive.
Instead, I’ve looked at how I can effectively use that commute time, instead of it being absorbed (stolen) by either home or work.
Nowadays, I have reverted to setting my alarm to the pre-lockdown waking up time. My alarm still goes off first in the house, and I get up at the same time I did when I was travelling to work. Instead of getting on the train, I get my trainers on and go for a walk or jog for 30 minutes. Admittedly, I still get back home to a crazy hub of breakfast and school prep, but somehow I feel more equipped for the day ahead. And there is less of a feeling that time has been stolen from me. I’ve re-engaged with my old work wardrobe too. And, like the actor, I change into my work clothes. Once at my desk, I’m also protecting the first 30 minutes of my diary each day and won’t book meetings unless critical. This is the time I use to skim the industry news and updates and organise my day.
Come the evening, I’m using the same principle. I block the last 30 minutes of my diary off and use that time to close up my work day, winding down the day and my mind. I go into ‘off’ mode. No work email, no Zoom. The door is still closed, but I’m morphing back to being Mum in those 30 minutes. And then, when I open the door and join the family, I’m ready for the rest of my day as I hear the familiar, “Mum’s home!”