When I hear the same message more than once I sit up and pay attention, particularly when it relates to people asking for help on a subject. Over the last few days this topic has come up in different ways three times, so I am tuned in and switched on. I am talking about the struggle some people are facing with working remotely. Sadly, the word ‘panic attack’ has come up several times, as have the words, ‘stress’, ‘inability to cope’ and ‘feeling isolated.’
Yesterday I gave a webinar on Emotional Intelligence for increased productivity and performance, and two people asked me about developing self-awareness and how they could better manage themselves when working from home. So, I am going to address this issue in relation to using Emotional Intelligence to develop your self-awareness to better manage your state.
Before I talk about how to develop your self-awareness, let’s look at some practical options for improving your situation when working from home.
Start by taking an in-depth and honest look at the causes of your stress when working remotely. As a suggestion you could categorize these as follows:
Environment – Is your working environment fit for purpose? Do you have a suitable space? A decent size office desk and an ergonomically suitable chair? Can you work free of interruptions, or are you struggling to balance family and work life?
Beside each problem write 3 possible solutions. I would also suggest that if you are employed (as opposed to self-employed) it is up to your employer to help you with any of these issues. They are obligated, so ask for help.
Your current state of health: Is stress causing your health to suffer? In what ways? Are you sleeping poorly? In what way in stress manifesting in your physiology? Again, take a full inventory and beside each problem write 3 possible solutions.
Your causes of stress: Once you have identified the causes of stress, you are going to be much closer to being able to solve them. This is where self-awareness kicks in – you must have the will and the determination to change and improve your situation. You can’t just carry on blaming others or the situation. Change starts with you. Are you prepared to change? If your cause of stress is due to a person (a colleague, manager or maybe a family member) again brainstorm how you might improve the situation. Communication is critical. You can’t get help if you don’t ask for it.
Now on to the Emotional Intelligence piece. Developing your self-awareness means taking an honest look at your emotions and behaviours to understand how they are impacting you and those around you. Study the diagram below. Normally we jump from the situation straight to the emotions (where we react automatically) and then to the behaviours – we have to stop, disrupt the trigger, and realize we have a choice. How do you do that? First recognize the trigger. What causes your emotions/stress/negative reactions? Is it habitual? When does it happen? What causes it to happen? What do you believe about it?
EBW – Emotions and Behaviours at Work Tool. TM/Copyright.
Once you have done that you have a choice on how to deal with/disrupt the trigger. This could be one of many strategies. Removing yourself from the situation if possible while you regroup. Deep breathing is a known method to reduce stress levels. Four deep slow breaths in and out while focusing only on the breath will bring you immediately into the present moment, thus reducing the stressful emotions and thoughts. Communication is also vital – can you have a psychologically safe communication with someone in your workplace who could help? But the key is having the self-awareness to find a solution that works for you.
Self-awareness also means managing your state so that these situations occur less frequently. There is a reason that so many successful people talk about their morning routine. The way you start your day will determine how your day flows. Once again, I will reiterate – it has to work for you. The essential concept is that you start your day in the right frame of mind to enable you get into a state of focus and flow. If you are looking for suggestions for a good morning routine, I recommend checking out Benjamin Hardy or Tim Ferris (but there are many other good options too!)
The key to improving your state is to become aware of your emotions and behaviours and to act on that information.
Victor Frankl said: Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
If you would like to develop a different vision for your future, I am currently doing 1-1 executive coaching sessions entitled ‘Your Future Self. Working on a new Vision.’ These sessions are currently on offer at 50% reduction. The usual cost is €175 for 90 minutes, but until the beginning of September a session is priced at €87.50. If you would like to avail of this offer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Your Future Self Offer’ in the title.
I hope the above have provided some ideas to get you started. I am also going to list some resources below. The IITD. The Irish Institute of Training and Development and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation both have courses and further information on remote working.
Dept of Business Enterprise and Innovation guidance: