Vortex Management

Vortex Management

I have often thought about the vortex. It has been a vivid metaphor for that mood state that exerts a powerful pull and encompasses fatal peril, nameless dread, the unspoken, and unimaginable hopelessness.

The capital V provides the graphic.

Much of my life I have been blessed with a grandiosity and/or ignorance that has meant that skating across the edge of the vortex seemed more of a thrill than a danger. It has been possible for me to look in as I skirt the lip, my own velocity enough to ensure safety. I could even lend my confidence to others and act as a guide on those treacherous slopes.

But that energy wanes. Experience chips away at the assumption of safety. My sense of balance admits a hint of wobble…

So my awareness of vortex management has come to include more conscientious thinking and practice.

We differ in our relationship with the vortex, no doubt depending on our temperaments, experience, and circumstances:

  1. Some look the other way. This often works. Perhaps, by not seeing the possibility, the risk of vertigo is reduced. Unconscious awareness and a subtle lure my nevertheless remain. Whether one stumbles backwards into an abyss of which one had no knowledge, or one flings oneself backwards into something that has been kept in suppressed consciousness; either way, it comes as a total shock to the conscious mind.
  2. Others are all too aware and spend much of their time and energy marching or scrambling away from it – for the most part successfully, but sometimes not, and perhaps always only partially so.
  3. My approach for many years was, as I put it above, to skate across the lip. This brings to mind the “slingshot” used by spacecraft. If I have understood this correctly, the gravitational pull of a celestial body may be exploited to develop acceleration and turn directional into angular momentum. The vortex can actually be used as a means of changing direction. This requires considerable confidence and panache. Surely, there must remain a risk of miscalculation and a plummet into the core.
  4. Finally (though do, please, add to this list) there is the skill of staying still.

I have been developing this skill. The current pandemic, with its erasing of the horizon and its repeated and protracted limbo states of lockdown can be held largely responsible, but my recent emergence from the institutionalisation of public sector employment must also figure. I suppose that, as I slow down, I can no longer rely on my ability to maintain an escape velocity. So I have learned some new tricks. I have learned not to lean away from the abyss, thereby keeping my centre of gravity over my feet with closer attention to the friction between feet and funnel.

(You can tell when a metaphor is getting desperate, because it starts to thrash around.)

I acknowledge the existence of the vortex and its pull, but I weigh against it my own resources, and most importantly this includes an ability to separate what is happening from what I fear might happen.

At that point I pause and reflect. If I can separate the actual from the feared, surely I can notice that this is not a vortex at all. That was a vivid metaphor, and useful up to a point, but the truth of the matter is that I am not falling; I am afraid.

Not falling; simply afraid. This helps because I have been afraid before, and I have learned that, if I can prevent myself from running away, the fear passes.

I have retained the term, though: vortex management. It seems a suitable label for what is going on at those times, and it reminds me that there is something I can do about it.

Home Page: Therapeutic Attitude

Self-care and remote-working

Self-care and remote-working

Remote-working is here to stay. This post on behalf of Developmental Conversations offers tips for maintaining self-care drawn from experience, conversation, and published sources. Key sources are listed below.

Most will apply generally to working from home. Some refer particularly to video-conferencing. Not all suggestions will apply or be useful to everyone. Have a look and see what you think.

Curating the context:

General wellbeing:

  • Eat, Exercise, Sleep
  • Protect boundaries (see below)
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Build morale (see below)

Transition

Pay attention to the transition from normal into remote working. A major problem with the Coronavirus pandemic has been that it bumped huge numbers into remote working without any preparation or training, and without much in the way of choice. It is not too late to remedy that:

  • Acknowledge it as a major transition. Go easy on yourself. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you get some things wrong or are slow to pick up speed.
  • Don’t assume that you can work at the same pace as you did before. Communication by video link requires more effort. We have become communication novices overnight and there are lots of techniques still to learn.
  • Schedule a lighter diary to start with – that is, one that looks lighter. You may well find that you are more tired after it than you expect.
  • Learn and plan more explicitly than you normally do. So much of face-to-face communication and time management we learned by implicit means and over years, so now we need to read up and network to gather tips and strategies. Write them down. Adapt them to suit your work and temperament and build them into your practice.

Space

  • Dedicated space

If possible establish a space devoted entirely to work, remote linking or otherwise. If you do not have the luxury of space that can be devoted only to this, then have a place that you can reliably use – and you do use – for the remote linking, so that camera angles, background etc are already settled. Some people walk.

  • Good lighting

This is important for your comfort (eye strain), productivity (energy and focus) and, when it comes to video calling it is important that your face is clearly, but not harshly, illuminated for the person you are meeting.

  • Noise control
    • ambient noise needs to be minimised for you to be clearly audible, and for you and others to be undistracted.
    • volume control covered also below. This will be affected by equipment, distance from the microphone etc.
    • com suggest a white noise machine to shut out distracting sounds. I have no idea if this works and I am not going to try it, but it is a thought. I doubt if this is for the video call, though.
  • Comfortable seating
  • Plenty of surface area. You need to be able to take notes without rustling, reach for references without leaving the frame etc.
  • Personal joyful stuff. Traject recommend this, and I am not sure. The comfort and uplift that this provides needs to be weighed against distraction and boundary diffusion.

Time

  • Protect your time.
  • Set a daily schedule:
    • Make sure you know what is work time and when you are off work.
    • Make sure you know what project you are engaged in at any one time.
  • Include casual connections with colleagues (as you would do in the workplace), not just formal meetings.
  • Schedule fresh air and exercise.

Communication

Broadly speaking, channels of communication and communication skill have both been reduced drastically, all round, so more effort will be needed:

  • Be positive and supportive.
  • Overcommunicate rather than undercommunicate.
  • Clarify:
    • how others can reach you
    • when others can catch you
    • expectations
    • and clear up issues quickly with a phone call.
  • Interpret problems as miscommunication rather than malice.
  • Ask for feedback
  • Reply promptly
  • Establish how to share documents

The Work

Your working style

  • Identify your “productivity weaknesses” and address them:
    • Procrastination
    • Distraction
    • Fatigue
    • Boredom
  • Maintain your brand or culture and, if in a team, the team culture.
  • Maintain morale:
    • Dress and groom
    • Chart project progress

The meeting

  • Not everything requires a meeting.
  • On the other hand, the human face humanises.
  • Ground yourself before you start.
  • Volume
    • Can you be heard?
    • Can you hear without strain?
    • Consider confidentiality – being overheard
    • Earphones?
  • Decide on Chair, facilitator, use of mute, hand signals, and chat.
  • Decide on speaker view or (eg for chair) gallery view.
  • Decide on chat before, after, or not at all.
  • Establish alternative routes of communication
    • For documents
    • In event of interruption
    • Chat function
  • Ask for feedback
    • Can you be heard?
    • Were you understood?
    • Did you understand?
  • Avoid multitasking
  • Avoid rudeness in the room (like looking at your phone)

Here are some sites to which I am indebted for ideas:

A good description of the need: https://twitter.com/LeapersCo/status/1257941168182243328?s=20

Traject:                                                                                                          https://bytraject.com/blog/tips-for-working-remotely/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_content=&utm_campaign=&utm_term= https://twitter.com/ByTraject/status/1244814375485083648?s=20

Inc.com                                                                                                           https://www.inc.com/lindsey-pollak-eileen-coombes/remote-work-home-productivity-communication-self-care-morale-team.html?utm_content=122166550&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&hss_channel=tw-893547756282822656

MyCareAcademy https://twitter.com/MyCareAcademy/status/1242015839433474048/photo/2

Realbusiness.co.uk                                                                         https://realbusiness.co.uk/mental-health-covid-19/

@Leapers (eg on video calls, Matthew Knight) https://www.leapers.co/articles/2020-04-17/i-think-youre-on-mute-seven-ways-of-making-video-calls-less-stressful

And back to Home Page: Therapeutic Attitude