It is 2pm on a Monday afternoon and it is so damn noisy that I can barely hear myself think.
As we are on week eleventy-hundred of lockdown protocol here in New Zealand, the noise factor is real.
And it is unrelenting.
As someone who normally thrives on the sound of silence to get things done, the last 6 weeks have been a challenge.
Now, I am not saying that I don’t love my family and if this was the month-long Netflix bingefest it was touted to be, it would be amazing to have them around.
But these are not normal circumstances.
In fact, no previous generation can say that they have mastered the art of running a digital business during a global pandemic.
Not only are there the usual pressures of business, but there are the added stresses of home schooling, boredom, feeding everyone on what seems like an hourly schedule, and the lack of routine.
Everyone is starting to feel the mental health impact of the lockdown. While it is a necessary step in our national virus fight… it is hard.
If you are missing the sound of nothing and struggling to focus in a busy household, then this is the blog for you. These are some of the things that have helped me create productive stretches of work.
Have A Designated Quiet Zone
It doesn’t matter where you set this area up in your house, but try and have a quiet zone. It can be a spare room you shut the door on, a special corner at the other end of the house, the bedroom… anywhere you can have a focused stretch of time without interruptions.
When you are going to your quiet zone to get stuff done, make sure everyone is aware. Also, make sure they know to only interrupt you if someone is bleeding profusely or it is something equally life or death related.
Once you get there, make the most of your time. Have a plan for what you are going to tackle and how long you are going to take to do it. Stick to your timeframe and get some stuff ticked off your To Do List.
Power hours have worked wonders for me. I get up at 5:45 each weekday morning and work solidly until 7am. I enforce the Quiet Zone rules during this time period.
Most of the time, the rest of the house is still asleep. But, if they do wake up early, they have to stay out of my work zone until the clock chimes 7am.
If you are not an early riser, you could have your power hour at a different time of the day. Maybe at lunchtime or even in the evening if you are a bit of a night owl. The important thing is that it is a scheduled block of time that you are able to work uninterrupted.
Have A Plan
You don’t need to have every moment of the day timetabled out. But, it can be helpful to have a rough schedule so that no one misses any important meetings for work or school, and everyone knows what is expected of them.
For the times that you plan to work, communicate with any other adults in the house so that you don’t have conflicts. Hubby and I have jokingly divided the house into Meeting Room A (our spare room/office), Meeting Room B (the dining room), and the last resort is Meeting Room C (the master bedroom). We talk about any meetings or calls we both have in the morning and choose our meeting room spaces so we both have the time and space to get stuff done.
During meeting or work time, you want to make sure the kids are occupied. Arm yourself with activities that will keep them busy. This can be anything from their school work, to puzzles, projects, fun tasks, screen time, meal prep… anything they enjoy doing (or have to get done for school) that will occupy them.
Save Some Easy Tasks
At some points in the day, there will be no escaping the noise. So, I save easy tasks that don’t require a lot of time or brainpower to complete. That way, I can still get them done while everyone is being rowdy.
Things like scheduling social media posts, loading blogs, creating graphics, invoicing and answering emails can all be done in short bursts.
Save the major brainpower tasks for your power hours or when you have a reprieve from the noise machines.
What am I doing while writing this very blog post?
To give myself the ability to focus, I have my noise cancelling earphones in with the soothing sounds of Hawaii beach waves playing through YouTube.
That might not be your cup of tea, but find something you can play through headphones to drown out the noise and focus your mind.
While I would love to listen to music as I typed, the song lyrics would likely end up in my written work! So, beach sounds it is for me!
Roll With It
The great thing about this current situation is that many business owners are experiencing the same things. And even if you don’t work with businesspeople, the general public are all in this lockdown situation together.
People understand that nothing is “normal” in these trying times.
So, cut yourself some slack. Roll with the topsy turvy nature of the world today and get stuff done when you can. If there is a day that you don’t achieve much, don’t stress. Tomorrow is another day, and while the sun might not come out, you will have the gift of another 24 hours.
Get Away From The Noise
One of the best things you can do is to get out and have some fresh air. Even if the noise makers come with you on a walk around the block, they will seem so much quieter outdoors!
It will give you the chance to take some deep breaths, have a change of scenery, and burn off some of that excess energy all their eating is creating!
Be Kind To Yourself
These are unprecedented times. Yep, I said that buzz word that everyone else is saying… unprecedented.
But, everyone is using that word because it is the most appropriate word to use!
No one has ever experienced the juggle that we are all undertaking before. And it is not an easy ask to be able to handle this day in, day out with no indication of when it might end.
Some days you will rock it and sail through like you are some kind of domestic and productivity queen. Some days you won’t get out of your PJs and will feel like reaching for the gin bottle at lunchtime.
Be kind to yourself on those hard days. This situation is taking a bigger toll on our mental health than we might realise. It is important that we don’t try to struggle through. If you need help, ask for it. Get things off your chest with your partner, a friend, or a business coach.
Just promise me this, don’t try to be staunch and get through this all on your own.