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Lockdown: best practices

12 March 2020, do you remember that day? It was the first day of working from home. Most of us thought that it was only going to last a few weeks. Little did we know. After a few months of working from home the summer came along and things luckily got a little easier. But as we reached October things became stricter again, which is basically where we still are today. So yes, we have been in this exceptional situation for quite a while now. 

Rollercoaster year 2020 is behind us. But 2021 so far hasn’t been much easier. You might however have noticed a big increase in your own resilience. If someone had told you a year ago that working from home would be the norm and social activities on the weekend the exception, you might not have believed it and you probably would have thought: ‘’How in the world am I going to deal with that?’’ But here you are: dealing with it. 

So what are some of the things that made you more resilient? Here are some best practices from the past year that we thought were worth sharing once again:

Avoid becoming a Zoombie: use your phone

Of course, you cannot do every meeting over the phone. But you definitely shouldn’t do every meeting via Zoom either. One of the reasons is that video meetings exhaust our brains. We are used to automatically processing every bit of information that we get in a conversation: words, tone of voice, body language, facial expressions etc. This doesn’t cost us any effort. But platforms such as Zoom disturb this process (because the connection might not be good, it’s hard to see facial expressions, and you are not actually looking people in the eye). So when you have a meeting scheduled that doesn’t require seeing each other or reviewing slides and doesn’t involve lots of people – consider doing it over the phone. This also provides the opportunity of taking a walk while being in the meeting. And whatever you do, always plan a short break in between meetings to go to the toilet or grab yourself a cup of tea. The function in your email settings that sets your meeting duration to 50 minutes by default should be your new best friend by now!

Leave the house on a regular basis

Since we are working from home, we move way less during the day. Where in the past we would take the stairs to have coffee with a colleague on another floor or walk down the hallway to get something from the printer, that is no longer the case. It is now extra important to get enough exercise. On top of that, scientific research has shown that lunchtime walks reduce tension and fatigue and increase overall vitality. So make sure you go outside for a (short) walk at least three times per day!

Your bed is for sleeping, not for working!

Unfortunately, not everyone has a separate room in their house to make into a home office. If you are someone who works right next to their bed, it is super important to find a way to create some kind of distance between your working place and your sleeping place. The reason for this is that your mind needs your bedroom to be a place where you do nothing other than relaxing. If that is the case, your mind instantly makes the connection with ´it being time to rest´ upon entering your bedroom. If you are in the situation where your bedroom is also your office, your mind automatically connects this space to ´it being time to focus´ instead of ´it being time to rest´. So, how do you fix this? For example by placing a room divider in between your bed and your desk. Or by setting up your workplace every morning before you start working and breaking it down again when you’re done working. Leave your bedroom for a while to do other things, go outside for a walk, have dinner and only come back to your bedroom when it is time for sleeping.

Help your neighbour

By doing things for others, you feel better yourself. It appears that people are happier if they spend money on other people than on themselves.  Scientists have mapped out exactly what causes that feeling. It involves hugely convoluted processes in your brain, and basically boils down to the fact that if you do something for someone else, an area in the brain is stimulated that is connected with the ventral striatum, your brain’s reward center. In addition, your brain is stimulated in ways similar to if you were actually spending time with other people.

Keep celebrating successes!

We used to do this all the time when we were still in the office, but somehow it doesn’t seem as natural when we are working from home. But celebrating your own and your team’s successes is still super important! This can be as small as celebrating that you have finished a big task or have delivered an important (online) presentation. Take yourself out for a coffee or call a colleague who you have worked with on the relevant project.

Apart from these best practices that we encourage you to follow, here are some out-of-the-box tips to change things around while being at home:

  • Book a hotel room or a forest cabin to spend a few (work)days in a different environment. Or check out hotels where you can book a room to just spend a workday. No budget to spare on a hotel or cabin? Then try swapping houses with a friend or colleague for a day! The extra effort to gather your things and travel there and back allows you to feel more satisfied at the end of the day. And maybe you’re even happy to be back behind your own kitchen table or desk the next day!
  • Create little party moments for yourself. Send yourself flowers, a bottle of wine or brownies. Or make your lunch breaks into little celebration moments for yourself by making a nice meal or picking up a fresh baked bun from the bakery (instead of having lunch behind your desk what you should avoid at all costs). 
  • Try out some new hobbies. Check out this article on NOS for some inspiration (creating an urban jungle, cooking following the alphabet, picking up photography – anything is possible!). Or maybe you can even learn something new by taking a (free) course? Platforms like Coursera or Udemy offer a broad variety of courses!

Do you want to read tips & tricks about vitality and personal growth on a regular basis? Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Instagram!

Kyra Geerts

Content manager & coach at The Recharge Company

Corona: what can I do to help

Do something for someone

Over the past few weeks, many beautiful initiatives have been launched to support elderly, those in need and entrepreneurs. We have collected them in an overview, so that you can easily find out in which ways you can contribute. 

Contact

First of all, you can contribute by reaching out to people who have a great need for contact. Luckily, there are several initiatives for this!

CLUB HUG | Write a letter to an elderly and let it be delivered by Clubhug. The recipient of your letter will reach out to you, after which you will be connected as buddies.

Coromapost | Maybe it feels nice to start with people in your own environment:  send an online photo to your grandparents to let them know that you are thinking about them.

Corona Quarantaine Contact | After completing the form, you will be brought into contact with someone who would really appreciate calls from you.

Creating for elderly | A nice way to get the kids involved!  Send a homemade card, craftwork or drawing to one of Korian’s care locations.

Koetjes & Kalfjes | This initiative is specifically aimed at students. Through this platform, you will be linked to an elderly to stay in contact with.

Oranje Fonds postcards | Is contact by telephone not really your thing? Send a card to someone who can use it. NOTE: sending cards is not entirely without risk.

Quarantaine Chat | Would you rather chat occasionally, with someone who maybe even lives abroad? Through this platform, you will occasionally receive calls but you decide whether you want to answer and chat! No strings attached, also nice if you only do it once.

Donate

Is contacting others not really your thing? You can of course contribute in other ways. For example, by donating something.

Help digitaal | Do you have a (simple) tablet with SIM card and WhatsApp software that you do not use? Then donate it to helpdigitaal so that people in nursing homes can make video calls to their loved ones.

Doneer bloed | Another form of donating, but just as important. Donate blood to maintain the blood supply.

Donate a meal | In stead of dining out at a restaurant, you can also donate. Help your favourite restaurant to get through this rough time.

Red je boeketje | For only €15 you can donate flowers to an elderly that could very much use it.

Voedselbank | Have you participated in hoarding over the last few weeks? Consider donating some of your supply to the Voedselbank.

Restaurants/ entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are hit hard by the corona crisis. Fortunately, there are many initiatives that respond precisely to this. For example, you can buy gift cards to help entrepreneurs get some income. Check out the following initiatives for your favourite shop / restaurant / salon:

In addition to buying gift cards, you can also contribute by choosing to spend your money at companies that are (still) selling or delivering. Check out the following initiatives:

Volunteering

Are you more the hands-on kind of person? There are enough initiatives that allow you to actively do something for someone else. Think of doing groceries, baby sitting, caregiving, providing lifts or walking dogs. Check out these initiatives to find out what is needed in your neighbourhood:

In everything you do, it is of course important to follow the RIVM guidelines. Fortunately, all of the above is also possible while staying 1.5 meters apart!

Do you know an initiative that is not yet on this list? Leave us a comment below this blog and we will include it!

Kyra Geerts

Content manager & coach at The Recharge Company

Working from home: 10 tips for productivity

10-tips-voor-thuiswerken

Amazing, working from home for three weeks! You may have thought this last Monday. But in the meantime you start to realize that it’s less simple and less relaxed than you initially thought. Your bed is very comfortable, taking a shower feels overrated and Netflix is lurking. Still, your employer expects you to be as productive as always. And in all honesty: isn’t it also better for yourself to end the working day feeling satisfied? How can you accomplish this?

1. Keep your normal rhythm

Do you normally get up early every day? Then stick with this rhythm. Use the extra time in the morning to read the newspaper, do something for yourself or work out (I’ll come back to the importance of working out shortly).

And most important: get ready for you working day like you always do. Your brain automatically connects certain outfits with certain emotions. Therefore, take a shower and pick an outfit you would also wear on a ‘’normal working day’’.

2. Keep a tight schedule

During a day where you work from home, it is very easy to get distracted. Doing the laundry or taking a walk. There is of course nothing wrong with this, as long as you make sure that you use your time wisely and deliver what is expected of you.

Therefore, start your day with making a schedule. Set some priorities that you want to have accomplished by the end of the day no matter what. 

Be realistic and keep challenging yourself! Have you finished all your priorities by lunchtime? Then set a few new ones!

Do you find this difficult? Schedule a focus hour for yourself once or twice a day. Turn off all your notifications (yes, also your email) and set you phone to do not disturb. You’ll be surprised with how much you can get accomplished in this hour!

3. Stay connected

Are you used to a stand up meeting every morning? Then keep doing it, but virtually. Make sure that everyone, except for the person talking, mutes their microphone. 

Do you often brainstorm 1 on 1 with a colleague? Pick a platform such as Skype or Zoom so that you are able to see each other, which allows you to work together as naturally as possible. 

Keep each other informed about your progress in your work, and let your colleagues know if you have room for extra work (as you would do normally). 

And just as important: try to stay up to date about each other’s lives! Start every first phone or video call of the day with just chatting and catching up.

4. Avoid feeling trapped and extra pounds

How do you prevent this from happening? It’s very easy to barely move during a day working from home. At the office, you walk to the printer, to your colleague, to the coffee machine and so on. At home, you only have to go to the toilet and the kitchen. Be aware of this, and plan different moments to move your body.

Do you have a long phonecall scheduled? Then take it outside, walk around! This provides a breath of fresh air, a change of environment (good for your brain), and the necessary movement. Every little bit helps!

Do you find it difficult to get enough exercise? There are already many initiatives where you can take online lessons. One of these initiatives is our own #Recharge Special Edition©!

5. Think ahead about lunch

Getting lunch can take quite some time (especially if you have to go to three different supermarkets to find what you need). So think about this in advance, and do your shopping the evening or morning in advance.

Are you living together with others (roommates, partner, family)? Then make lunchtime a shared moment. Agree on a time, set the table and really take a break. If you’re working from home alone, consider calling a colleague over lunch. In this way, lunch remains a social and relaxed moment of your day, which boosts your mood and well-being. Whatever you do, don’t have lunch behind your desk!

6. A clean house, a clear mind

Maintain a clean desk policy at home. A tidy desk ensures peace of mind.

Do you work in the living room, at the dining table? Then take some time in the morning to get organized before you get started. You will notice that you start your working day with much more peace of mind!

7. Prevent an acute hernia: set up your workplace!

Just as important: make sure that you have a comfortable workplace. Even if you have to invest a little more time or money in it than you usually would: it is worth it. You want to prevent having terrible back pain after only three days. If possible, arrange a keyboard and mouse for your laptop, and place your screen at eye level. A good option is to temporarily place a kitchen or bathroom ladder on your desk as a standing desk. Fun idea: with a good standard under your bicycle, you can easily create your own Bike Desk.

8. Children at home? Make arrangements with neighbors / acquaintances

If you read this while you have four children at home, you may think: easier said than done. The situation is indeed not ideal. But see if you can make arrangements with others who are in the same situation. For example, are you able to divide the children’s care among the four of you with two couples? Then you can work three full days versus one day with the children.

9. Nothing to do? Pick up a project!

It can of course be the case that because of the current situation you simply do not have much to do. You want to prevent your working days from becoming a kind of disguised holiday in which you do not really rest mentally because you know that you are actually working.

Think for yourself: is there a project that has been in the fridge for a long time because it never had enough priority? Decide for yourself to spend at least one hour a day on this project, and longer if you have the time.

If this is not an option, talk to your employer to see if there are any useful courses or trainings that you could participate in. There are countless online platforms with courses ranging from programming to interior design. Find out what your organization needs and use this period to become an expert!

And a last tip in this context that of course does not need to be mentioned: use the extra hours you have to do something for someone else. Ask if there is anyone nearby who could use help with shopping, cooking, or the kids. Set up a volunteer project. Or take an hour to donate blood. We’re all in this together!

10. Go to bed early

Last but not least: stick with your evening routine (or give it an extra boost)! Keep in mind that it is basically a normal working week. The earlier you go to bed, the earlier you can get out of bed feeling fit and energized.

And from the perspective of #Recharge I recommend to switch off your screens at 9:00 PM! Grab a book or a game for the last hour so you can roll into your bed at 10 p.m. and get 8 hours of sleep. That is also not a bad idea with regard to your physical health! Tricky to get this into your routine? Follow the #Recharge Special Edition© to actively work on it for a week!

 

Which of these tips has helped you the most? Let us know via the comment section at the bottom of this page!

Kyra Geerts

Content manager & coach at The Recharge Company