2020, am I right?
I don’t know about you, but this year was nothing like I expected. Amongst all the hubbub Covid-19 caused, our favorite bars and restaurants closing, physical distancing, bushfires, floods, and murder hornets (just why), I also made a fairly bold choice to pivot in my career. Obviously, this did not go as smoothly as I was expecting. I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past year recently, and I thought it might finally be time to put digital pen to paper again to share some of the things I’ve learned during this time, because I really have learned and grown a lot.
1. Boundaries blur a LOT when you live, work, eat and sleep in the same place
I love working from home. I will be the first person to jump on the bandwagon and toot the horn about how incredible it is, but you have to find balance. And that can be really hard. We were speaking about this recently at Tiny during one of our company-wide virtual hangs, and I got some great tips from my colleagues about what they do to draw the line between work and living. My favorites included:
- Don’t install your work email/slack/discord/whatever collaboration tool you use on your mobile. When you’re done for the day, just be done.
- Try and find a separate space in your house to set up your office so your work computer isn’t encroaching into your chill-out space. If you don’t have a spare room/office, get a blanket and chuck it over the computer at the end of the day so it’s not staring at you. Bonus points if it’s a funky blanket!
- Go for a walk. Literally just do a lap of your block. If you work from home, chances are you’re spending a lot of time inside; go and stare at a tree for a few minutes. Honestly, it’s great 🌴
Part of the benefit of working from home is that we can all be more flexible with our work-life balance. We just have to give ourselves permission to do so.
2. Learn to pivot gracefully
A silver lining of this year is that I finally learned how to go with the flow. Anyone who knows me well, has worked with me, or run into me in a supermarket probably knows that I’m loath to give up control. I’m going to consider this year as exposure therapy; there just wasn’t any real way to control what was going on around me, and as a result I had to be more flexible.
In technology, we talk a lot about being agile and adaptable. I think this year is the first time where I can truly say I’ve been able to internalize that mindset. I’ve had more plans go out the window this year than I’ve had Tuesdays, so I had to learn to pivot. A lot of this is honestly about being kind to yourself and acknowledging that sometimes things won’t go the way you want them to or need them to. Just do your best and forgive yourself when your best isn’t up to your usual standard.
3. It’s okay to not be okay
I really, truly promise it is. My academic background is Psychology and Human Resources, and this year has honestly pushed me to my limits in both of these spaces. I think some very honest conversations have had to be had at both personal and organizational levels all around the world, and this is such a good thing! We talk so often about being authentic and human in the workplace, and a big part of that is being able to put your hand up and say you’re struggling.
I consider myself to be a fairly resilient person, but this year has been so tough. I got made redundant for the first time ever, we all had to isolate and not see our loved ones, and there seemed to be bad news coming in every 5 minutes for months. It would have been impossible to not be affected. What really helped me was cultivating sincere, authentic relationships with my team and management so that I felt comfortable owning up when I was having a bad day. If you’re a manager, I urge you to position yourself as someone that your team can approach, and if you’re an employee, I wholeheartedly advocate for being honest when things aren’t great. We’re all people at the end of the day, we’ve all been in the same boat; especially this year.
So often this year I’ve heard “they’ll write about this in history books one day”, and in my reflection I’ve thought about how I think the story will read. I genuinely hope it’s a story of resilience, compassion, and how when all was said and done, we found balance by leaning on each other.