When you settle into a groove on working from home, you will begin to experience one of two emotions, and not necessarily in any particular order. These two emotions are
A euphoric feeling of achievement
A feeling of dejection or monotony
As social creatures, no rhythm that brings order to life in solitude lasts very long. The euphoric and positive feelings generally last shorter than the feeling of despair, dejection and monotony. There will be multitude thoughts racing through your mind and the vast majority of them will tend to be negative. The media, connectivity, social groups, friends, relatives and everyone on the planet that can reach you will generally send out negative signals. No, they are not out to get you or mess with your mind. The negative messages are based on science. From what I have understood, the strongest instinct that we possess is the instinct of self-preservation. It is stronger than hunger or any other base level desire that you can possibly think of. It’s important to become aware that almost all our actions stem from this single issue (self-preservation). This could be physically protecting oneself from any sort of harm or it could be protecting one’s ideology, thought process, dogma, beliefs etc.
Self-preservation can thus be divided into two clear types. The one that protects the physical being and the second that protects the mental being. Any physical discomfort affects one’s peace of mind and in this email, I am going to share what I have learnt about the mind.
I want to be clear that I am not a trained mental health care worker of any type. I don’t claim to know the intricacies of any mental health issues. I am sharing some basic techniques to help you achieve some piece of mind. All I have is my experience to share and some conclusions drawn on whatever I have read, learnt and experienced in my journey. Please don’t treat this as a medical commentary or advise of any sort.
When working in my previous company, the monsoon season was particularly difficult. In Mumbai the rains come from around mid-June and last all the way to mid-September. During this period, Mumbai has periodical ‘lockdowns’. The rains are so heavy that one can’t leave home or if in office, can’t leave that either. Landlines typically collapse. Internet connectivity (cable oriented at that time) was at best patchy. Sitting alone in a corner or even after watching some television, would play tricks on my mind. This is especially true for weekends. Since I couldn’t go out, I learnt ways to remain positive.
One simple trick I learnt was to find something positive to do every day. It began by me deciding to clean my computer disk. At that time, disk space was precious. Every MB of data (we were yet to get GB into our lexicon) cost money. I began looking at all data that I had that wasn’t worth keeping. I think the laptop I had at that time had a hard-disk of around 500 MB and that was considered HUGE. Since I worked with presentations, I carried pen drives. One of my favourite was what I considered a very good size one – it had a massive capacity of 256KB. (Yes, two hundred and fifty six KiloBytes). It was a blue Fujitsu drive with a light!
I began by organizing my correspondence. This taught me how to create folders, how to search for duplicates and how to name files so that I could remember them. The files I didn’t want were easily deleted. What I wanted but didn’t use frequently, I recorded on CDs. (I still have some of them). Files that I used regularly (mostly related to editing) I stored on the hard disk. Digital photography had yet to explode. My phone didn’t have a camera till much later. I owned a small camera which had a resolution of 1 MegaPixel (compare that to an iPhone 11 Pro that has a 12 MegaPixel camera). The photos were not that heavy by today’s standards but were still very data heavy at that time. It wasn’t easy to transfer photos to the computer; Bluetooth was still a few years away. But I removed duplicates and cleaned my storage space. I extended this to paperwork – as a foreign exchange earner, I had to keep extensive paperwork for the government too. Both these helped me build other projects that kept my sanity when I could have easily lost it.
I recommend you try this for yourself. Pick a small project, perhaps finding duplicate photographs, or arranging your closet or simply dusting and cleaning spots that you haven’t done in a while. I promise the feeling of having achieved something will be a welcome one.
Do tell me if this helped or not. I know each of us has a lot to do and I don’t want to clutter your Inbox. At the same time, if what I have to share helps, then I am very happy to continue to do that.
Stay Indoors, Stay Safe, Stay Healthy.