We’re starting a series on Career Masterclass called #HowIWork series, where we’ll be exploring how working professionals optimise their days for productivity and efficiency. In this edition, we have Lucinda Thurmer, Content and Digital Communications Executive at Forum for the Future, share with us how work has changed for her with Covid-19 and what she’s doing to make the most of it.
My typical day (Pre-Covid 19)
While now it seems like a long time ago, I used to start my day early in the morning so I could head to a class at the gym before walking to work. At work there would usually be a lot of catching up in the office, meetings throughout the day and people asking questions and making jokes. I like to have some quiet focus time so would often put my headphones on and listen to something to focus for a bit. After work, I would usually go to meet a friend or out to one of my hobbies. I’d get home later in the evening and prep everything for the next day, relax and chat to friends and family overseas.
My typical day now
I still try to wake up early, but don’t always succeed, and after making coffee and breakfast and listening to one of my favourite podcasts, I start working usually at around 8-8.30am. I’ve started to use an online personal trainer who hosts classes with up to 6 people at scheduled times, sometimes I have one of these in the morning.
I usually work until 12 then go for my daily walk at midday around a nearby park. At first it was really hard to ‘switch off’ for lunch and I was just sitting at my desk. I had to make sure I actually took the lunch break as it meant I was more focused and in a better mood for the rest of the afternoon. I also turn my phone off in the afternoons so I have a break from it, and schedule in a 3.30pm tea and snack break. In the evenings now I usually have a virtual workout session, and then spend time chatting to friends online and reading.
My current workspace
I live in a small flat near Shoreditch with three other people, and we have our kitchen table as our joint workspace. I also have a small fold out desk in my room. We decided early on, on guidelines we would all follow, like only taking calls in our room, so we would be courteous and understanding of each other from the start. We have a small place which isn’t always easy but we’re all very considerate and the guidelines have helped a lot. It’s not an ideal workplace, and I’ve ordered some ergonomic tools (like a laptop stand) so that I’m taking care of myself as much as possible.
My best (remote working) tools
The best remote working tool is routine. Your mind likes routine (even if you think it doesn’t!) and especially while trying to manage the uncertainty we are all dealing with, having small levels of ‘certainty’ from day to day helps enormously.
I also always rely on a daily to do list. I look at the top four things I have to do that day for work, and that helps me organise my time. I will often include an important meeting on that list.
The other tool I rely on when I’m finding it hard to focus is having Tide installed on my web browser. It plays white noise for 25 minutes then gives you a 5-minute break. When I am getting distracted this always brings me back.
How I stay motivated
Staying motivated for work has been around what are my responsibilities and what do I need to do to fulfil them, and I have found motivation for these came quite naturally as we’ve been really busy responding to the COVID-19 crisis. However, making sure my personal priorities are happening has been more difficult.
For my personal life, building in accountability with others has been the most motivating thing for me. The first few days, even though I said I would exercise by myself with a video from YouTube – I did not! And I suffered for it. Having online workout dates scheduled, with one or two friends where we all do the same workout, and having my online PT where I have to log on and connect, has meant I’m staying fit. It’s making a huge difference. For my personal projects, having someone else give me a (reasonable) deadline also kicked me into gear, and I finally wrote something about how all this change has felt and published it online.
On remote working
Remote working is as good as you make it. I was already used to a degree of working from home, and I have nice housemates and understanding colleagues, and I am also someone who likes time to focus and my own space, so it’s been an ok transition for me. But it will be a lot harder for some. What works for you is different for everyone, and it’s about finding the routines and habits than mean you’re taking care of your professional responsibilities while protecting and caring for your personal life at the same time.
If there is one thing than can be sure, it’s not just about adapting to this change but learning and embracing continual change. The next few months (and even years) will likely be full of continual change, and being someone who embraces change will mean being someone who will thrive.