Has lockdown shown us a way to work smarter?
An honest and open account of the highs and lows lockdown has brought over the last 12 months for me professionally and personally and using this experience as a way to work smarter.
I loved the first lockdown. For the first time in ages, I had time. Time to think, to review my work processes, time to balance my energies, and time with the children.
We were fortunate enough that my husband could continue to work outside of the home, my children are older and relatively self-sufficient, and I have a job that I love, albeit in pause mode. My most intense feeling was that I needed to catch up with myself. I felt that I was living my life by a clock and I was just trying to get things achieved. I wanted to slow down, knowing that slowing down also sometimes increases the amount of time you have
Lockdown 1 allowed me time to catch up with work and home-related jobs that I hadn’t been able to manage before. It was great to be able to prioritise aspects of admin, software, forms, online presentations, and having the time and the headspace to do that.
Staying in touch with patients online to check in with them and their pigment retention, and being able to offer new patients online consultations, meant that I could still practice from my home office rather than in clinic.
Another task I decided to do was to work on my fitness as over the years I had noticed my strength waning. So, I started yoga via Zoom with my sister-in-law. To this day we still do this 4-5 times a week for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on other commitments. For me, as long as I’m working and the children are at home, I will not go back to yoga lessons in person, but rather continue online when I can do it in my own time, in my own pyjamas if necessary!
The third lockdown was a totally different story. I had been eager to get back to work, seeing patients for treatments and carrying on with their treatment plans. To stop again felt tough and as the days got darker and shorter, the weather became colder and wetter, my motivation started to wane, and it was a struggle.
However, I kept telling myself, ‘It’s not the worst thing I’ve lived through’, and having a community presence of ‘we’re in this together’ really helped me. The pandemic has affected people in so many different ways. We are all in this together, and we are encouraged to look at the gratitude in our lives when everything else has been stripped away.
I’m grateful for the health of my children, for my loving husband, for family members living close by, and for amazingly kind and considerate friends. I have a job that I love, a roof over my head, and food on the table. Believe me, I’m grateful for all that.
One of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that I have actually had time to process all the information I’ve been learning over the last 15-20 years. It’ easy to get caught up in work, training and furthering ones career.
I’m a real advocate for learning more and going to the next level, but actually part of learning is having space afterwards to assimilate all the information. I had been so busy working, looking after children, dealing with life non-stop that I hadn’t had the time necessarily to process everything I’d learnt.
Also, after not having tattooed for six months I actually felt like I’d improved my skills and was really longing to get back to it. All of the information I had learnt over the years had time to really sink in and become part of me, and so when I returned to work just after the first lockdown, I enjoyed performing the treatments that much more. I worked quicker, smarter and with more confidence.
When we had to stop again it just felt very different. It wasn’t summer anymore, everybody really felt the need for connection and a return to some kind of normality, and when we found out that we weren’t able to have a family Christmas I was devastated.
January came and went and to get up each morning was a real struggle, to settle my daughter down to homeschooling, to log onto yoga, and to set up my computer for work. But during this time, I realised all the thoughts and plans I’d had during the summer months had not been implemented into my business.
I had gone back into it in exactly the same mode as before lockdown, working all kinds of crazy hours and rushing to get things achieved. I needed to slow down again and really implement those changes into my working day; choosing the treatments that give the most benefit to others, choosing my working days and hours that give me the most energy, and keeping up with the fitness and fun aspects of my day.
Furthermore, I’ve also had to live by my own quote, the quote I always tell my children which they hate hearing; “What’s at the other end of boredom?” “What comes after boredom?” Creativity!
If you allow yourself to be bored, as uncomfortable as it is, it creates a space, and that space needs to be filled. If you’re not filling that space with what you normally would, then there’s a vacuum, and as The Second Law of Thermodynamics states, “in all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.”
The space will be filled, but with something different and something new. Lockdown has bred many new ways that have come into play. We’ve all progressed with virtual meetings, conferences and been forced to become more connected virtually even if not in person.
Working from home has levelled many people’s work/life balance, and many of us have had time to sort out our houses, our gardens, be with our children, clean our hospitals, schools, and churches. And, as I come to the end of this blog, I look up and notice there’s an awful lot of cobwebs in my hallway, but I guess I’ll leave them for another time. Nothings perfect.