The Extravert’s Guide to Surviving Lockdown
OK. So you’re a person who gets their energy from others. Now, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, you’re stuck in the house all day, trying to work remotely through your computer.
Now I’m certainly not saying here that Extraverts can’t work by themselves. That’s simply not true and many Extraverts that I talk to say that they do some great work by themselves. The challenge is keeping this going for a long period of time, particularly when all your traditional sources of energy and support have changed so dramatically. So here are five tips.
Regular ‘reconnect’ breaks
The number one thing for you to keep your energy levels going is to make sure that you’ve got regular opportunities to really reconnect. To be really effective this should be a chance to speak out loud. For example, one of my client teams has started scheduling ‘coffee chats’ where the whole team can come online at the same time and talk about non-work related topics. So look for opportunities to create something like this for yourself. Of course the real challenge is if you an Extravert who happens to not be very structured… well if you are like me then you may need to find the people who don’t mind you calling up unannounced to bounce ideas off them!
Watch for those small distractions
As an Extravert you’re on the lookout for external sources of energy, so when you’re trying to focus and get things done by yourself those little distractions will always appear. The challenge for you is getting the right balance between recharging your batteries and constant small distractions. As an example I’ve got this great WhatsApp group with some colleagues where we can keep each other going, but the temptation to check it every 37 seconds is pretty high. And it does give me energy. The problem is that it’s a very tempting distraction. So my hint here is turn off notifications for set periods, and then have a ‘recharge’ break where you can reply to everything. It’s not easy though when that last ping just came in. I’ll be back in a sec!
In addition, many Extraverts say that messaging and texting online is useful but doesn’t quite hit the right note for recharging batteries, and I’d agree with them. For me it provides short (admittedly addictive) bursts of energy, but it’s not really recharging me properly. It feels more like eating some sweets. It’s nice and I get some energy, but I really should be eating some proper meals if I want to have energy all day. So look for some regular opportunities to get quality connection time that will last you through to the next one.
Turn on video
I’ve always done a fair share of online work through TypePro, so I’m pretty familiar with running training online. What I hadn’t noticed when I began working solely from home is that this doesn’t really recharge my extraversion in anything like the same way as being in a real room with a dozen people. What I have noticed makes a huge difference is making sure that me and the other person (or people) have got the camera on. I find that the additional sense of a real conversation I get from a video chat does help keep my energy levels up. There’s the added advantage that face to face conversation makes it way easier to understand what someone really means, and this goes double when you’re from different cultures or languages as so much of our facial communication is universal.
Now that everyone’s working at home I’m finding that some people aren’t getting themselves ‘camera ready’ first thing in the same way that they would if headed into the office, so do let them know in advance you want cameras on, or you might find a surprising number of mysteriously broken cameras. Now this does mean that I have to change out of my pyjamas, but it’s worth it in the end!
Some people need space
Not everyone wants to be in constant communication, so look out for signs that people need to have some focussed time. Introverts often say that they really need to get into the ‘zone’ in order to be at their best and will often take the form of a 45-60 minute slot. So watch for the temptation to keep checking in with everyone and dropping messages, links and calls. You might want to arrange formal times when people in your team can be ‘offline’ in order to really focus, or to say when it’s OK to turn off your availability on whatever instant messaging software you’re using.
Now take a moment to reflect on how this may apply to those you share a house with…
Talk it through
As an Extravert you do your best processing when you can talk things through. So watch for the temptation to keep absorbing all that online news if you’re lacking the opportunity to process any of it out loud. For Extraverts it can become quite overwhelming to have all that information, stats, pictures and scary graphs whirling round your head without an outlet. I find that forwarding stuff on electronically doesn’t quite achieve the same processing as actually talking about it.
So find a friend, loved one or colleague that you can actually talk out loud to, or you might find yourself like one of my extraverted friends and yelling at strangers out of your window for not obeying social distancing rules in the street.
OK folks, there you have it, my Extraverts guide to surviving the lockdown. Keep yourselves happy, productive and safe. I’m off to recharge with a good video chat.
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