For many, lockdown has enabled them to work from their personal fortress of solitude and has meant they don’t have to travel, see people or make idle conversation. This for some introverts is the ideal working scenario and perhaps even the answered prayer they had been waiting for.
I’ve heard some friends describe it as ‘An introverts paradise’
Sadly, this is not the case for me.
I am an extrovert through and through and lockdown is my version of hell.
Whilst some are fortunate enough to live with others, the pressures of being confined to seeing the same faces everyday has been challenging. For extroverts like myself, it has been emotionally tough and the pressures of not being able to socialise, has negatively affected our mental health.
Personally, I feel that seeing people and the buzz of an office life helps boost my drive and keeps me motivated. I feed off a crowd’s energy like a Pac-Man feeds on ghosts. And when I have to get stuck into a task, it’s that energy that supports me to reel off ideas as I am able to vocalise them with my surrounding co-workers.
Throughout lockdown, I have found that I have started talking to myself far more than I would care to admit! Like a caged lion prowling and looking for something or someone to bounce an idea off.
Since my descent into madness, I have found a few tips and tricks to help manage the challenges I have faced working from home as an extrovert…
Put on Some Damn Clothes
I am sure that we have all reached that stage at one point or another when the idea of getting dressed seems the equivalent of climbing Everest, especially when you’re only going to see yourself all day.
At the start, I had the terrible habit of putting a jumper next to my laptop for when I got an unexpected zoom call, so I could disguise the fluffy polo bears on my pj’s that had become my new work colleagues.
The first thing to do at the start of each day is to put on some proper clothes! Try doing that load of laundry that you have put off and pick out some ‘home working’ outfits. It amazing how much readier and more professional you will feel even in a pair of jeans and a button-up top. Dress for success and you will be surprised how your productivity will increase.
Be Strict on Your Working Hours
When you are working, eating and sleeping in the same place, it can become so easy to blur the lines between your brain being on and off. Most only have a single door or a few steps between them and their work space. This substitute to their normal 30 minute commute doesn’t help when it comes to being able to take themselves away from their screens and work duties.
This lack of commute and being ‘out of the office’, means that it is essential to do activities you would have done were you at the office. This includes switching your laptop off, going for a walk after work or opening that bottle of wine when you clock off.
Whilst some may find that their productivity is higher working at home without regular office distractions, it is important to remember to keep this productivity to your set working hours. Try using the extra time you’ve saved by not having 10 minute conversations with co-workers, towards giving yourself extra breaks and time to unwind.
Take a Lunch Break with a Friend
So, you have got as far as lunch - Woah, you're halfway there! Don’t forget that this is break time and an opportunity to avoid the lacklustre sitting at your desk and getting crumbs in your keyboard.
Try and schedule a socially distanced walk with a friend or a conversation with a member of family. The beauty of having the furlough scheme is that a good percentage of people don’t have much to do and would love to go for a walk with you. Even if you live alone, make the effort to go outside to get some sunlight. As the great Morticia Adams says, ‘Vitamin D is important!’.
One tactic I have also adopted is having ‘a Zoom office chat room’. This is a zoom meeting where you and your colleagues can gather throughout the day to chit-chat and have conversations you would usually have during your coffee breaks in the office. This way you get a feel for the office life, without breaking any laws. It has proven very helpful to keep in touch with colleagues and stops me from discussing marketing strategies with the cat!
Block out the Nothingness
I hate sitting in silence!
Fellow extroverts believe me when I tell you: Background noise is a game-changer.
Whether it be a podcast or a generic office sounds video on YouTube, this white noise helps you to fill the screamingly loud silences. You can even get sounds at frequencies that claim to make you more intelligent (yes, this is a thing, Google it!).
When thinking of things to listen to, I recommend listening to something you’ve already heard or that you don’t particularly care about like the podcast you have listened to 20 times, rain sounds or my personal favourite ‘cosy coffee shop’.
This means you can zone out and focus on what you are doing.
Working from home is hard for anyone, but for people who enjoy being around others, it’s even harder.
I can’t say that these tips will suddenly turn you into a work-from-home master, but they are some ideas that can help in creating a more manageable working environment for an extrovert.
Stay safe and carry on my fellow extroverts! - Steph