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Business psychologist Jamil Qureshi talks to OG about life in lockdown

By Jon Lonsdale on 27th May 2020

When someone’s testimonials list them as ‘a genuine expert’, ‘genuinely inspirational’, ‘genuinely funny, provocative and engaging’, you can’t help but be genuinely sceptical.

But Jamil is the real deal.

Jamil Qureshi is an author and leading voice in performance enhancing psychology.  He is also an Octopus Group partner. Having worked with some of the most talented businesses and sportspeople in the world, it’s safe to say he knows his stuff.

We hooked up with him for a Zoom Q&A session, during which he solved all our pressing pandemic productivity problems and showed us the silver lining by opening up exciting ideas for business in ‘the new normal.’

To get the ball rolling, here’s just a few of the takeaway messages from our informal, funny and highly productive session…

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Feeling frazzled? It’s the way for a lot of us at the moment, as constant working from home and dealing with new childcare challenges continues to blur the lines of ‘office’ hours.

What would really fix the situation would involve coming up with a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine – but Jamil’s got the next best thing in the form of this tiny hack to help restore a bit of your sanity.

Next time you pop to the kitchen for a brew, or nip out to take the dog for a quick walk around the block, don’t take your phone with you. In doing so, you’re drawing a line between your breaks and your work time.

Next time you pop to the kitchen for a brew, or nip out to take the dog for a quick walk around the block, don’t take your phone with you. In doing so, you’re drawing a line between your breaks and your work time. The company won’t collapse if you’re unreachable for five or ten minutes, and you’ll be able to come back to your desk feeling refreshed.

Jamil was keen to reiterate that you should never feel guilty for taking breaks. If you were in the office, you’d probably end up being sidetracked by chats in the kitchen, popping out to get coffee or wasting time in meetings that could have been emails, so it’s hardly damaging your productivity. On the contrary, it’s good for you!

And if that’s not enough for you, another tip he’s witnessed in action is people wearing shoes to delineate work time and home time. Brogues in the metaphorical office, slippers for metaphorical home time. Why not give it a go?

I can’t fight this feeling any more

Quarantine has got some people feeling like an REO Speedwagon. And what we mean by that is they’ve dived off the deep end into full workaholism, cracking on long past 5:30pm and getting up early to get stuck back in. Meanwhile, others are struggling, finding it hard to concentrate and adjust to this new way of life.

Jamil advises people feeling the strain to focus on energy management rather than time management. There’s going to be moments when you just can’t do certain tasks – take reading, for example. Sometimes you can fly through half a good book in one sitting, but the next time you pick it up, your eyes keep glazing over and you barely get past a few pages. You’re simply in the wrong frame of mind for it, says Jamil – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to complete something, focus on something else. For example, if concentration is an issue, look for quick wins like chipping away at a pile of admin, or replying to a few emails on your plate.

Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with feeling demotivated or stressed. The key, according to Jamil, is not trying too hard to change how you’re feeling. Just know that whatever you’re feeling is right, and it will pass eventually. You’ve felt like this before and you’ll probably feel like this again, but it’s not forever – and you probably feel this way for a reason.

If you’re struggling to work out why you might be feeling the way you do, draw up a performance triangle for what you’re currently working on. You’d be surprised how much it can help you to figure out what you’re missing and help you get back on track.

We’re keen to help our clients make the most of Jamil’s expertise, so we’ll be arranging taster sessions with him for client management teams, board members and workgroups to open up ideas for business life in ‘the new normal’, and share tried and tested solutions to quarantine challenges.

Curious? Please get in touch to find out more.

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