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Working in an unfamiliar context

Working in an unfamiliar context can be unsettling. It can leave us lacking the routines we normally deploy to make us more purposeful. In many ways that underlines what it might be wise for all of us to consider doing in the coming days to make the best of the lockdown.

Working in an unfamiliar context

We all have an understanding of the importance of routines. But how do we activate them in an unfamiliar setting? Behavioural scientists suggest we adopt an R3 approach.

The first R is 'Reminder'. This is a ploy to command our attention and prompt us to stop doing one set of activities, and to start another.  You might want to establish a list of the tasks you want to accomplish: both work and domestic, as a reminder.

Once our attention is commanded, we can move to the second R: 'Routine'. This routine might be studying, writing, reading, communicating. Here we must allow for the limitations of our human attention. Be realistic. Set a clear time limit for the task. I’d recommend either 25 minutes (minimum) or 80 minutes (maximum) Being disciplined and STOPPING at the end of the defined block is an important part of establishing a sustainable routine. So I’d recommend an alarm (use your phone or kitchen timer) to strengthen your resolve.

Once you have completed your routine deployment it's time for the final stage of the R3 cycle: 'Reward'. This can be a cup of tea, a phone call, listening to music, or perhaps a bit of exercise (at home).

About the Author

Professor James McKenna

Jim McKenna is Carnegie Professor of Physical Activity and Health and Head of the Active Lifestyles Research Centre in the Carnegie Faculty.

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