We recently shared an article which inspired me to think about adaptability as a trait that is essential for future personal and professional success. It made me reflect on how I work, and the way this has had to adapt to change I’ve experienced over the past year.
Planning and organisation
Like my colleague Scarlett, I find that to-do lists are essential when it comes to juggling tasks, but, when ‘to-do’ lists become pages and pages long they begin to feel unachievable. So much so, that rather than increasing productivity, they tend to have the opposite effect.
To combat this, Scarlett and I have recently started using Trello. It’s an automated project manager, that we use to combine our separate to-do list’s. It allows us to break down all of our tasks and allocate them to each of the specific project’s we’re working on. Being a visual platform, it becomes easier to visualise the step-by-step breakdown of each project, and exactly which tasks we each need to complete in order to collaborate successfully on things. As a result, it gives us back that sense of achievability and convinces us that we can get to the end (and on time for our deadline too!). Moreover, the move to digital ‘to-do’ lists cuts down the amount of time we have to spend catching up on eachother’s progress.
Current work schedule
Now that I’ve finished university, I am able to spend my time focusing on one job which is a massive relief! My responsibility for the last 6 months revolved around making the social media content calendar. However, I’m currently learning new skills and developing a new strategy for our email marketing, as well as starting to execute on two campaign ideas that I’m really excited about! I’ve found that changing up what you’re doing at work from time to time sparks an excitement that can get lost when your work becomes over-repetitive. I know that I’ve recently felt a new wave of inspiration which has helped with my productivity.
Activity levels and productivity
Like many of my colleagues at ExP, keeping active is ESSENTIAL for my work-life balance. I am usually a very active person, and being stuck in the house during lock-down meant I couldn’t concentrate AT ALL, and although I didn’t feel particularly energetic, I knew that it was because I wasn’t exercising enough. So, In an effort to adapt, I introduced walking into my morning schedule. At the height of lockdown, every day I’d leave for my walk at 8am and listen to a motivating 45-minute podcast. I’ve gotten worse as lockdown eases and when the weather is bad, but, every time I do, my ability to concentrate is noticeably higher throughout the day. It’s something I would encourage anyone to try if they work remote-fist.
Moreover, our ExP bi-weekly team meetings and my 1-2-1’s with Scarlett have been a consistent motivator, serving as a reminder of where my contribution fits into the wider context of the company’s growth and success.
Remote-working and a changing work space
This is probably the biggest challenge that I’ve had to adapt to. Throughout University, the quiet space in the library was my work hub. My holy grail of concentration. When corona-virus hit, I moved back to London and the change of working environment really threw me off. Much like many of you, I was easily distracted and found concentrating in a space where life and work merged incredibly difficult.
So, I dedicated a specific area in my house to ‘work’. When you are consistent with your work-space, you learn environmental cues that become associated with that work-mindset. After a couple of days of consistently working at the same spot and at the same time, I found I was much quicker at switching from the fuzzy ‘I’ve just woken up’ mindset and adopting the focused ‘work-mode’ mindset. Moreover, if you’re a forgetful person, having a separate work space may help your environmental cues trigger your memory. This is because your memory traces are associated with the environmental cues in which they were encoded with, and are more easily retrieved when you’re in the presence of those cues once again.
The same principle applies for trying to relax. I’ve found that taking breaks away from my work-space really optimises my use of a break, because it allows me to relax more. Consequently, when I return to work, I feel more focused and more innovative. So, I’ve found that there is definitely something to be said about optimizing your environment for the state you want to be in. As I’m remote-working full time now, I’ve adopted the spare room (with an actual desk) and this has further increased my ability to focus.
Reflecting back on adaptability. In the modern world of work, things move fast. We can no longer allow ourselves to have a fixed mindset when it comes to how we work. Those who are successful are those who can adapt. How I work, has been, and continues to be adapted to changes I experience in workload, who I work with, my environment and so on…
Nevertheless, sometimes you have to have a few unproductive days or even weeks whilst you’re figuring out what works for you – and that’s okay! I know I have.