I sit in my favorite chair, watching the steam from my coffee twirl into the morning's stillness. I am in my comfy sweats, cocooned in a black sweater. I watch the soft shadows play against the windowsill as the sun slowly rises. The chair, coffee, and time of day are part of my rituals for getting into “writing mode.” We all have rituals and routines. Some are so ingrained we no longer consciously think about them, as they have just become a part of us. It turns out that rituals and routines are more than quirks, they can ground us and reduce anxiety. The pandemic has upset a lot of our rituals. In a Science News article, Sujata Gupta writes, “rituals help with emotional regulation, particularly during periods of uncertainty, when control over events is not within reach.”
Gupta further notes that rituals can help us in this “new and fraught global landscape.” Rituals are not only comforting, but research shows that they can actually help us perform better. Athletes use rituals to get into performance mode, and solo PR pros can use those same tactics to get into winning mode at work. Rituals do not make you perform better, but they reduce performance anxiety. Nick Hobson, Ph.D., addresses his research in a Psychology Today article, saying, “When things get tough, a ritual can be good to turn down the brain's anxiety dial. It helps performers push on in the face of adversity.”
Even in normal times (remember those?), we will face adversity. But in 2020, it may be more important than ever to have rituals that can ground us as the world swirls in uncertainty. Listed below are a few things to consider to help you design your own work rituals. Remember to create rituals and routines that are meaningful to you. It can be tempting to follow the success secrets of someone else. However, if it is not rooted in something important to you, it will not produce the desired effect. And more importantly, it won't stick.
Soundproof your performance. What sound (or lack of sound) puts you in a mood for getting work done? It could be complete silence; for others, it may be nature sounds, and still, others may need to rock it out to get in work mode. One tool I use is Brain.fm to match sounds to my goals. There are also great YouTube channels filled with playlists from falling rain to classical and everything in between. If you are now sharing your workspace with your family, create a quiet zone that allows you to focus when needed.
Order your space. Place things around you that put you in work mode. It may be a motivational poster, a photo of a mentor, or an award. Surround yourself with things that make you feel calm, steady, and ready to rock your work!
Dress the part. Sometimes it is an article of clothing, like a sweater, hoodie or pair of shoes that signals “go time” to your brain. Or maybe it is an entire uniform, that makes you feel work-ready. You don't have to dress up for work, but you should dress in a way that makes you feel like working.
Rituals are personalized and will look different for everyone. The important thing is to design your day in a way that lets you be at your best.
We would love to hear from you. What rituals have you employed during this time? Share in the comments below or tag us on social media using #solopr.