How to Deal with Anxiety (Day 3) – The Daily Checklist

(5 minute read + a downloadable checklist)

I’d originally anticipated lockdown to be a slower pace, a reconnection with what matters and a welcome realignment of my values.

Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but the reality for me is the pace has been higher than ever before.  I’m one of the lucky ones, but so far this luck has translated into very long hours sat at my desk, worrying about my family, childcare, clients and the world.

One thing I have noticed is how hard I can work without feeling that I’ve achieved anything.

This is related to the ‘Zeigarnik effect‘ – the tendency to focus on all the things we still need to do rather than the things we have done.

Apparently waiters can recall diners’ orders only before they have been served – afterwards the brain just lets go.

This is pernicious, because a story can easily grow that we are busy but not being effective.  My mind easily slips into stories like ‘I am a busy fool’ or ‘I’m panicking’ which then leads to feeling overwhelmed – like my body is primed for action but I can’t actually think what the next right action is.

This is where checklists can help, by dampening anxiety, giving us a structure and crucially, helping us notice what is working and what we have achieved.

Atul Gawandee’s The Checklist Manifesto shows how checklists improve outcomes in a whole field of outcomes, but checklists can be useful in this current situation too.

If you want to know how to create one, this article gives a step by step outline.  But if you want something specifically created for this lockdown period, I have created a Daily-resilience-working-from-home-checklist-27th-March.pdf (378 downloads) with specific questions to answer in the morning, and then some further questions to reflect on at shutdown time.

UPDATE – HERE IS THE NEW AND IMPROVED VERSION Daily-working-from-home-TCP-checklist-v2.pdf

The objective is to help people to:

  • Mindfully check in with themselves each morning;
  • Monitor their own self-care;
  • Spot what’s working and what isn’t;
  • Embed effective habits into consciousness and then hopefully, into their routines.

I am already using this on myself and some clients and the response has been great.

I will be revising and improving this over time and may turn it into an Excel doc or an online tool (developers please get in touch!)

Please let me know comments and suggestions for improvement in the comments below!

Career Change, Career Development, Career Management

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