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I thought I would share my experience of working through lockdown and would welcome feedback and comment on what is working for other Oil & Gas Professionals out there. I am fortunate enough to have a reasonably well-equipped home office and old enough for the children to have flown the nest, however it must be really challenging for those with more limited facilities and a demanding young family competing for attention.
Things I find working for me are:
Sticking to a routine. For me that means planning my week out for at least 70% of my working time and being at the desk by 0900 each morning and taking the currently permitted one piece of exercise per day.
Virtual coffee’s and catch ups. When work at clients offices I did not take many breaks to catch up with people but now find myself arranging virtual catch ups with a wide range of colleagues. We share both social chat and work discussions. I now really look forward to these interactions.
Taking the weekend off. by 1700 every Friday I stop work and take, at least, Saturday fully off to do non-work things, Reading the newspaper, cycling, walking, man-shed etc
Stress. I know some people are feeling anxious concerning the virus and this is understandable. I find that by keeping busy, regular routine, social distancing, plenty sleep and moderate exercise I rarely feel stressed about the situation.
No sight in end. My main challenge like most is not knowing when lockdown will end and we all will be able to go about our business more normally.
The dreaded “Brain Fog”. Reading the paper yesterday I found I am not alone in feeling a bit “woolly” headed due to less activity/ less travel. Getting up reasonably early everyday is one of the solutions to this.
We have all very quickly become more proficient with Teams/Skype/Zoom etc and other remote working methods. Every day I see positive things, many on Linkedin, that people are doing to collaborate, work together and support each other. I would like to think that these behaviours become the norm as we emerge from the pandemic.
Take care & stay safe.
As another period of lockdown is confirmed, despite more freedom being granted and a potential return to work in parts of the UK, we are still very much in the unknown. The present feels very strange and unfamiliar which therefore makes the future even more indefinite.
When thinking about the future we often use previous experiences to predict and somewhat prepare for what we may experience. Envisaging the physical experience and how this will affect our emotions. The term is known as Future Thinking. However, we are exceptionally poor at this despite the benefit of our own experience to draw on.
Let me walk you through an example I was given during my time at university. At the time we were told to imagine ourselves graduating and how that would feel. The emotions depicted were mainly ones of joy and happiness. No more exams, the relief of graduating after extensive time, and the pride those around us would feel at our accomplishment.
However, this is not the full picture. For all the joys, graduating also encapsulates many emotions that convey the opposite. The pressure of independence, looming student loans but more importantly for many, moving. Leaving the city that they have called home for potentially years, and those they surrounded themselves with, will no longer be nearby.
The funny thing is, we could reflect on leaving school, a relatively similar scenario. So, if we can be so wrong with that experience, imagine how wrong we can be with even less information to prepare for what may come. It is probably why people bulk bought toilet paper. They simply had no experience of a similar situation to draw on, to make an informed prediction of their needs.
Before we all start panicking about the situation we are in and the unknown ahead of us. It is important to remember that despite our inability to accurately “Future Think”, this does not mean we will be on the wrong side of things in the future. Personally, I was forced to self-isolate before lockdown even began, making it impossible for me to play a part in the toilet paper debacle. Yet, funnily enough, I did not run out and as my two weeks of self-isolation came to an end, balance had been restored and I was able to replenish my stock.
I honestly cannot believe I used a personal example that involved toilet paper, but it presents a valid point. Just because we lack the context to make an informed prediction of the future doesn’t actually mean we will be less accurate, because we already suck at it regardless. As individuals, we only tend to envisage one future because we only experience one present, which further handicaps our ability to predict how we will feel in the future.
It is understandable that because these times are unknown, a level of anxiety is associated. No one can begrudge someone for feeling that way in the current circumstances, but the issue is that it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. So, what is the alternative? We could try looking at this from an alternative perspective, because the truth is, we are always in the
unknown with regards to our futures. All COVID-19 has done is to make us aware of just how unpredictable the future can and will be.
Remember, does unpredictable necessarily mean bad, regardless of the current circumstances. Ask yourself this, did all those people who bulk bought toilet paper vindicated by a toilet paper shortage? No, because the future scenario they were preparing for was not as bad as they had predicted and tried to prepare for.
Therefore, to round off this post I would encourage us all to focus less on what may come and more about what we are doing right now. Those of us anxious about the future will have probably experienced that feeling of anxiety before. Mindfulness is an excellent way to combat anxiety and there is an abundance of apps to help us do so.
Then again, apps aren’t for everyone. So, let’s not forget about our own personal mindfulness (yup that’s right Lee is talking about self-awareness again). I would encourage you to use lockdown as a chance to experiment with different things that allow you to focus purely on the present. Whether it be meditation, yoga, learning a Tik Tok dance routine, puzzles, exercise, cooking, redecorating (paint is cheap for those of us managing our outgoings due to the uncertainty), board games, singing, cleaning, baking or clear outs. Also, when I say clear-outs, I’m referring to clothes or items we hoard in our garage. Not family members. Sorry to disappoint.
It is never a bad time to learn more about ourselves and right now is an exceptionally good time to identify what we need individually. Not only learning what we need but also how to express it to others. Therefore, we can go into this unknown with stronger relationships and a better understanding of what we want our future to hold. Rather than trying to predict a future that, until it becomes our present, will always be, unimaginable, unpredictable and unknown.