Author: Kelly Stewart – Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education
Arghh!!! As a positive person who loves working with lots of people, I’m finding working online is really difficult. Add to the ‘enforced happiness at home mix’ three active boys 9, 11 and soon to be 13 and it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
My top tips for survival are:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – as much as we would like to achieve as much as we were doing in the office, we are currently adapting to working from home juggling perhaps the demands of family or struggling with loneliness with unfamiliar ICT applications in isolation.
- Have a routine (of sorts). In order to get some quiet time to work I have taken to getting up at 0624 leaving my clothes by the bed for the next day ‘firefighter style’ and creeping downstairs to get a few hours uninterrupted work before the rest of the household wakes up. I’m not a morning person and still dread someone calling for a video chat at 0700 as I haven’t combed my hair or brushed my teeth yet.
- Achieve little things every day. To paraphrase William H McRaven, one of the longest serving US Navy SEALs make your bed. McRaven said “if you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.” We might not be a Navy SEAL but I gain a small amount of satisfaction from seeing my bed and my three boys beds neatly made – even if the rest of the house looks like a bombsite! For further tips from McRaven check out this link from The Guardian about McRaven’s book.
- Seeing colleagues online face to face is brilliant! Stop the ‘email tag’ back and forth and have an online chat – it really does perk up the spirits seeing a friendly face and is so much quicker and easier than sending emails.
- Use your Outlook calendar (which will also enable Teams to see when you are Free/Busy/Away/In a call etc.) to schedule work tasks to do. This can help you keep focussed, do remember to schedule extra time to do tasks as everyone I speak to tells me tasks are taking longer to do. (See my first point about not being so hard on yourself).
- Enjoy the small things – I usually grab a quick sandwich and mindlessly eat it at my desk. Not anymore! I am trying ‘functional skills embedding teaching’ at lunch times where I choose an unsuspecting child (one of my boys I hasten to add) and we make lunch together for everyone. Usually following a recipe from a book (even where I know how to make it) just to get them reading (getting in a little more English) and doing maths by weighing the ingredients. I hasten to add this is not elaborate haute cuisine…today’s offering was scrambled eggs on toast!
- Stay off or set limits for social media and watching the news. Remember to apply a healthy dose of scepticism about ‘friends’ on Facebook who post about their perfect families and “take a look at the lovely recorder lessons I have videoed my children doing”. No one wants to hear my children practice the recorder (I have unfortunately mislaid our recorder but may magically find it and return it when the boys can go back to school).
- Be a role model. Our learners and our children will react to and follow your reactions. They learn from your example, try and allay their fears and be as positive as you can. Faking positivity can actually make you feel positive.
- Take your planned annual leave. Even though we might not be able to go on the Caribbean cruise or the camping trip to Settle (like I had planned) take your well-deserved time off. The children and I are planning to plant up some hanging baskets and tulips and look forward to their blooms. As well as a movie marathon watching Star Wars (as believe it or not some people in my household haven’t watched all the films!).
- One of my lovely colleagues at a partner college has taken to wearing her lanyard around her neck as a visual symbol that she is working then, when it is off, she has metaphorically ‘left the building’
- Finally, take time to stay in touch with friends and family, one nice idea is to draw round an outline of your arms and head and send a hug through the post to your loved ones 🙂
Take care and stay safe.