My love-hate relationship with online working

In April 2019, I made a calculated leap of faith: I sold my pediatric Occupational Therapy practice at a school and ventured into the world of online work. The excitement of starting my morning routine in a home office was overwhelming. Being able to control my home environment was one of the deciding factors for this leap into the unknown. I painted my office walls in a soft neutral colour. A plant found it’s way onto my desk. On garden service days, I closed my office door and played calming music through headphones (don’t you just love the sound of a weedeater…). A jar of hand cream was placed within arm’s reach, mostly to be used when craving the lovely vanilla-smell filling the room when removing the lid. On cold winter days,  a heated foot mat kept me warm. Life was blissful and I felt so blessed to have changed my work life to fit my sensory needs.

As a sensory avoider with low sensory thresholds, I cope best with LESS sensory input. If an environment gets too busy and loud, my productivity levels drop and I then have to exert a lot of extra mental effort to maintain a high level of work. In a quieter, calmer, more relaxed environment, I thrive and feel healthier and happier. I love working alone in my own space… not that I’m a recluse (I hope not), it just fits my sensory style best. (If you’d like to discover your sensory style, complete your Sensory Matrix™ online)

What I did not bring into account when leaping into my new work adventure, was that I’ll be joining the digital world of online work consisting of a massive population. According to Internet World Stats, there were 4,833,521,806 global internet users on 30 June 2020. So much for solitary work! Within my little 13-inch laptop screen, I was connected to a whole new community. Exciting, yet overwhelming at times.

During the past 16 months, online working and I have gone through quite a few ups and downs, adding to my love-hate relationship with the digital world. I’d like to highlight some, it might just resonate with you if you’re also part of the online work community:

      An “off” button to switch everything off -vs- Nowhere to hide when you’re online

                                                   No need to travel for work -vs- A complete lack of movement while working     

Customization of your desktop display and icons -vs- A quick buildup of clutter on your desktop

                    The ability to stand up and walk away for a break -vs- The guilt of standing up and walking away from work

                                                        Flexible working hours -vs- Working longer hours due to a lack of routine

No time wasted making small talk with colleagues -vs- Missing small talk with colleagues

Control noise levels easier -vs- Eyes and ears are fixed on your small (but busy) digital world throughout the day

 

The list of pros and cons is endless and will vary for each person. However, digital work is here to stay. I realized it will be most beneficial to wrap my head around my digital environment and make the best of it. Some of the strategies I’ve implemented (and do my best to follow…) are:

  • Take short movement breaks. Your body and brain need it. 
  • Move my gaze away from my screen at times, to avoid “computer vision syndrome“.
  • I have raised my laptop and am using an external/additional keyboard to avoid a poor sitting posture.

There are lots more easy-to-implement strategies that we use as a virtual team at Sensory Intelligence® Consulting. Since your wellbeing matters to us, we’ve been sharing knowledge and ideas by means of our online workshops. To discover more simple, yet neuroscientific tools, follow the link to Digital wellness through the 7 senses. 

Take back control and be the master of your digital universe!

7 Tips to keep kids busy during lockdown

“If only I could work from home!” How often have you heard work colleagues say these words… or had this thought yourself. For many employees, the prospect of working from the comfort of their own home sounds like Utopia. But will it be? We’ll know soon…

Another expression immediately enters my mind: “Careful what you wish for…” 

Home working might seem like heaven-on-earth from the sidelines, but it can easily render you into a state of unproductivity if not approached and managed according to your own needs. To ensure that you create the best home working space for you, it’s very important to be aware of your sensory thresholds and how you react to different sensory stimuli in your environment. Complete your Sensory Matrix™ to discover your own preferences. You can also schedule an online Sensory Coaching session thereafter where your Sensory Matrix™ results will be unpacked in more detail. 

In our recent blog, one of the tips to improve your home working environment was reducing distractions. Some distractions are easy to address e.g. close windows to drown out the noise from outside, wear comfortable clothes and declutter your desk. Some sweet, lovable, young  “distractions”, seeking your attention, might be harder to manage during this sudden, lockdown, home working era.

We all know that it will be an (initial) adjustment for both parent and child, but here are 7 tips to help you accommodate/manage/care for your child while you need to work from home:

  1. Schedule meetings and calls in advance
    Being organized and knowing beforehand when you’ll need less noise around, can help you choose the best quiet activity for your young child. Listening to audiobooks can help here. While schools are closed, you can find some for free.
  2. Get back to the senses
    Whenever possible, get your kids off the couch and away from screens (we realize it might be necessary SOMETIMES). For little ones, make edible play-dough. There are many recipes out there. If you can’t find any, we can help.
  3. Incorporate problem-solving and creative thinking
    Remember how we used to build forts, houses and castles in the lounge with old blankets draped over chairs and couches? Have old pillows, linen, empty boxes and furniture available for your child to play and explore with.
  4. Free-play with blocks
    Ask your child to build different objects (or even better, their own inventions) by using building blocks e.g. Lego. No need to follow instructions, rather creative thoughts and loads of fun ideas.
  5. Get outside
    If your home space allows it, encourage your child (if old enough) to play outside in your home garden. Riding a bicycle, baking mud cakes, swimming or even collecting sticks and stones to make a collage. Kids need to move and be active.
  6. Introduce chores
    If there was ever a time to teach kids about household chores and responsibilities, now is it. Children can clean their rooms, make their beds, set the dinner table and help parents in the kitchen during meal preparation time.
  7. Keep in contact with family
    Keep grandma and grandpa happy by drawing them a picture or writing them a letter (handwritten) every day. Mom can keep it safe and send a photo of it every night.

Make this uncertain time during lockdown more bearable for your little frustrated ones – as a result, it might just end up being more bearable for you too!