We’re all finding our way to a new normal at the moment! Life and business during this time of lockdown has many challenges, both personally and professionally.
If this time so far has taught me anything, it’s how we need to be resilient, how we need to hold our nerve and keep strong. But also how we need to nurture and be kind to ourselves, to be able to process this changing outlook on life. Often that’s really difficult when emotions and anxiety are running high. To maintain a sense of balance is
I’d like to share with you the simple things I’m doing during this time to keep myself and my business in check, and hope that one or all of these can support you in this unusual time! They’re not going to add any more to your busy mind or to-do list.
Keep to a (new) schedule
I love routine and in times of uncertainty this can really help give a sense of purpose to your day and week. It can be so easy to slip out of what is your ‘usual’ day especially if you have people around now who aren’t usually around! The snooze button gets pressed a bit more often, and days can have a less productive and slower feel to them. While this might feel nice to start with, it can quickly turn to overwhelm when everything starts to feel messy and out of sync. I encourage you to find a new routine for your day, even if that looks nothing like your ‘usual’ one. It will give structure to your day and help you be more productive when you need to be.
If you notice your anxiety levels are higher than usual at the moment, exercise can really benefit to balance out the highs and lows. The UK charity Mind report that studies have shown that people who are more physically active have more positive emotions and higher levels of self-esteem, and that regular aerobic exercise increases positive moods. I have learnt to really enjoy exercise (and it has taken many years!) due to the impact it has on my general mood, mental health and fitness. If sport and exercise isn’t your thing, then try and find something you enjoy and that will take the edge off having to do it! Even going for a half and hour brisk walk while listening to one of your favourite podcasts counts as exercise, and you will notice a difference.
Feed your mind
I noticed last week how I had lost some of my spark, inspiration and general sense curiosity. My mind felt dull and I was noticing how I wasn’t focussed on the bigger picture, but just on the minutiae of day to day. While this isn’t particularly surprising given the current lockdown situation we find ourselves in at the moment, it was unlike me. I then realised that I hadn’t been feeding my mind anything other than my day to day business and the news! I’m usually reading or listening to podcasts, but I hadn’t picked up my books, and had missed several episodes of podcasts that regularly made up my day. My personal development had stopped, I’d not kept up the my energy for learning and developing me and my business ideas, as that energy had been consumed by trying to figure out what was going on around me. The books and podcasts are back and I’ve already noticed a different to my sense of purpose, not to mention the distraction! What can you feed your mind today that will make a difference?
Focus for shorter blocks of time
When we’re going through a period of change, either short or long term, it’s often more difficult for us to stay focused and it’s easier to get distracted. That adds up to feelings of not achieving anything, and our productivity can be at an all time low. If you’re not already time blocking for your tasks anyway (and why not? It’s life changing!) then try focusing for blocks of no longer than 30 minutes, or shorter if you need to. This is based on the Pomodoro technique, founded by Francesco Cirillo in the 1990s, and named after the tomato shaped timer he used to work with! The technique helps you break down large tasks into time intervals that are spaced with short breaks. This helps your brain to focus more intently for shorter periods of time. Set that as your goal. If you can go for longer than great, but if not, stop, go and do something else, and then come back to start again.
Reach out and connect more
Who can you connect with that makes you feel good? And who needs your smiling face and humour right now? My WhatsApp chat, emails, and Zoom calls have increased over the last few weeks and that has had such a positive impact on how we’re all feeling. I’ve planned with friends, masterminded, keep an eye on family members. I’m back in touch with people I have lost touch with, and it all feels good.
Keep your mission
How many ‘new’ online business gurus, work from home experts and productivity ninjas have you come across since the lockdown? Have you been surprised that you thought this person did X and now they are suddenly telling you how to work from home and take your business online? Me too. I would urge caution with any knee jerk reaction. Of course, some businesses can, should, and perhaps need, to pivot in the current times. I have helped my private clients create more online offerings over the last few weeks, but it has all been related to what their current business is, and aligns with their mission and the impact they want to make. Please don’t neglect your current offers just because we’re in uncertain times and you think they’re no longer valuable. That’s still your business, just enhance it to fit the now.
Grasp the opportunity
It can be tough to see light at the moment, but how can you use this time we have to create something you have been wanting. Whether that’s for your business or personal life? My husband is currently off work, but he has become an absolute whizz at WordPress websites, membership site set up, and is helping me push forward a new offering that I have had drifting for too long. This has a knock on effect, as it fits with our bigger vision of wanting to work together, travel more, all while keeping our business mission and impact strong. He would have never volunteered to have so-many-weeks off work to try this out, so we’re using this time for that (and he has learnt to work the coffee machine and his scrambled eggs for breakfast are becoming legendary which is an added bonus!) What hobbies have you let slip that you used to really enjoy? Or how can you use this time to make a difference?
Just keep doing what you can, when you can, in the way that works for you. I hope one or more of these steps has helped you regain some balance.
Written in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.