This was the week when life took a seismic change for most people in the UK. Everyone is facing their own new challenges, within uncharted waters, and if you’re like me, you’ll probably spend the next few weeks (at least) muddling your way through home and work life.
My observations come from the perspective of a small business owner, recruiter, default home worker, and family member comprising full time working parents to several young school kids. The challenges are many, but today I wanted to keep a lighter tone, so am highlighting some of nicer surprise packages to emerge this week.
1. Joe Wicks
Who is this superhero and where did he come from? When we come out the other side, this guy is going to be the hottest property on the celeb circuit – he’d probably just need to turn up to get the clean sweep of winning Strictly, X-Factor, I’m a Celebrity et al. It’s already difficult to imagine life without him streaming into my living room day after day. Admittedly, I haven’t actually watched a full episode of his kids morning workout, let alone even vaguely entered the fray to join in with him and my kids, but to date it’s about the only reliable 30 minutes of complete ‘me’ time I get in the day….so in my book he deserves all the success he’ll get. On top of that, it’s only really because of Joe that I’ve both worked out how to subscribe to a YouTube channel (let alone learn of their existence), and at last made some use of at least one of the hitherto dormant SMART functions on my TV by connecting it to the internet – which for a technologically challenged individual is quite a personal triumph.
2. Who’d have thought we’d have a tidier and more orderly household!
With all four family members suddenly subjected to occupying the same space 24/7, I assumed home life would default to something resembling the experience of ‘washed-out’ weekend. It could become a purgatory existence – perpetual tidying up after others (and by others I’m referring to my kids), repeating the same requests to others (kids again) over and over, dealing with crotchety behaviour of others (I don’t need to say by now) after a moment of weakness to allow extra iPad time whilst trying to grab a moments peace. In short, I expected to be living in a simmering cauldron of tetchiness where someone, sooner or later is going to blow!!
Taking the time to build in some structure to our lives has been critical. If I look for the silver lining in 80% of my business evaporating over the last few weeks, it’s that I have had more capacity to focus on helping to establish a more routine existence to keep life as ‘normal’ as it can be, particularly for the kids. Added to that, I have noticed it’s been easier to keep the house in a relatively tidy state – as the default home worker it’s depressing when the house is cluttered or messy, in the same way most office environments are kept reasonably tidy. So far, the little and often approach seems to have avoided the potential ‘bomb-site’ appearance of our living and working environment!
I have no doubt the commitment to the cause all round will gradually fade, but at the end of week one I’ve been pleasantly surprised! The house is in reasonable nick, the kids are being largely positive and compliant, and life seems as orderly as I can remember it in the Godber household…..long may it continue!
3. Teaching my parents to use tech is possible!
This is a task that requires large amounts of patience, not normally my strong suit. Perhaps it’s because now I’m of an age that I’m all too aware that one day it’ll be me struggling to get my head round the advances in technology. However, this week I successfully helped my parents to set up and become proficient with Zoom – seemingly the essential life tool in this current climate. It took a few sessions over two days, but we got there, and I didn’t have a breakdown along the way!
4. Broadening the perspective to find a sense of accomplishment
Running a recruitment business is not a happy place to be right now, let alone is the prospect of running a micro business that does not seem a likely to be included in the support packages being made available by the government. The outcomes upon which you measure success are going to be severely impacted, so it’s been important to think differently about where these personal successes could lie. Writing this blog, with a commitment to continue this much more regularly is one such example. As mentioned, establishing a routine for the kids and an environment conducive to productive working is another. Helping others out can contribute to a sense of purpose and seeing so many people drop their personal pride to take on non-career related work to help the national effort is incredibly heartening. Getting a much better view of what my kids are doing at school is another. Even simple things like making sure there is some quality to the down time that’s available can be an achievement. In the grand scheme of things if you can help your co-habitors retain their sanity and happiness, that’s a worthy achievement in itself during a period that requires an enormous collective effort.
Whether it is now, or in the coming weeks or months, I think most will benefit from re-calibrating their perspective, combining the personal and vocational to drive their sense of achievement, or even satisfaction. In the corporate world, I think this will be a growing challenge, but sooner or later there may need to be a reality check or the risk of burn-out will become an ever-increasing prospect.
That’s a subject for another day!