A Different Perspective: Looking for Opportunities during the Coronavirus Madness
Ideas for your professional, personal, and family life during social distancing and working from home
Let’s be honest: the situation with the coronavirus sucks. With working from home and kids’ schools closed, everyone is cooped up in the house and going out to pursue what used to be normal, day-to-day activities is not an option any more. Our previous, ordinary life is suddenly … gone.
Yes, this is frustrating, disconcerting, and confusing. Cabin fever is setting in and we all suddenly miss the smallest things we used to take for granted. Time to get depressed or angry, sit on the couch, and watch endless TV while snacking on whatever comfort foods we still have?
What if we looked at this admittedly unpleasant situation as an opportunity? What if we didn’t only cope and made due, but actually got something positive out of it? Here are some ideas for different areas of your life:
Get really good at remote work — Under normal circumstances, many companies have remote workers or allow employees to work from home on occasion. And now we’re all doing it. This is the perfect time to figure out how to not just do work, but be productive from home. Here are some tips to get started.
Do some really deep thinking and planning — Chances are there are fewer meetings and other distractions now. Why not use the time to do some really deep thinking, planning, writing, or data analysis? If you, like me, work in product management, here are some good things to try and do.
Connect with your team members and colleagues — You’re all in the same situation. Why not reach out, connect on a 1:1 basis and get to know them better, how they’re coping, and deepen your relationship?
Catch up on books, newsletters, webinars — There’s always so much good information being published for all types of industries and professions, it’s so hard to keep up. Why not spend the time now to catch up and learn what’s new? Amazon’s Kindle lets you get books instantly. Don’t have one? Use your tablet, phone, or computer to read Kindle books.
Renew certifications — Do you have certifications that require education units or even exams? Guess what: This is the perfect time to get that done!
Learn some new work-related skills — Learning always takes time and we often don’t have enough of it in our busy days in the office, but why not learn to use a new tool, software, or method now? Do you know how to utilize some more advanced formulas, pivot tables, or charts in Excel? Can you teach yourself how to program or use SQL? Can you try out a new application?
Update your LinkedIn profile and resume — Many people let their profiles and resumes go stale. Why not give them a once-over now? While you’re at it, get more serious about posting about your profession and share your insights on a regular basis.
Build your professional brand — Do you have a blog or web site? If not, this may be the perfect time to discover WordPress or Medium, start publishing, and sharing your knowledge online, and build your own brand.
Write that book — Speaking of writing and publishing, is this the perfect opportunity to get started on finally writing that book you’ve always been thinking about? There may be no more excuses now, so get going!
Create that perfect WHF setup — You need it now anyway, so why not create a great setup for yourself with a proper workspace, webcam, monitor(s), keyboard, and whatever materials you need within reach? We don’t know how long this phase will last and maybe your new setup will come in handy later for other endeavors as well.
Update your home network — WFH requires bandwidth and a good network connection, especially if multiple people are sharing it. Do you go wired or WiFi? Do you need a better Internet plan or an upgraded router? Is a mesh network needed in your house or a WiFi extender? This is an excellent time to learn more about home networking and make sure you have the connectivity you need.
Investigate alternative sources of income — This crisis will leave a financial mark and not all jobs are secure, unfortunately. If you’ve ever considered a side hustle or an online business to supplement or replace your income, this may be the time to get serious about it. Check out platforms like Kajabi, which can help you build an Internet-based business and monetize your knowledge. Maybe you’ll get used to WFH in your sweats! And with the right niche and some effort, you might be able to achieve financial independence and end up making more money than with your day job.
Review your goals and run some experiments — We get so busy, we often forget to take a step back and look at the big picture of our lives. Can you take this opportunity to review your personal and career goals and figure out where to go next? Not sure? Try Life by Experiment!
Discover ways to exercise in, around, or close to home — You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to get exercise. You can walk, run, or hike or try forms of calisthenics (where you use your body weight). Need some inspiration or guidance? Try out new fitness apps — many are free right now or offer an introductory period.
Reconnect with friends and colleagues you haven’t spoken to in a long time — Everyone knows a lot of people, but how often do you really talk to them? I know you can’t go out and meet or visit them, but you can always make the effort to connect via social media or, even better, in real time via FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Skype. Or have your friends join you in a virtual hang out over Zoom where they can chat, listen to music, or watch movies together. Get creative!
Do some home clean-up and get organized — We often find better things to do than clean up our garage, organize receipts for tax time, or sort through our files, but it sure feels good when it’s all done. I bet your pantry could use some reorganizing right around now too. Lose the excuses and do it now!
Make some home improvements — Do you have things to do around the house? You can still order supplies and products online (and some home improvement stores are still open), so if you’re even only a little handy, maybe now is the perfect time to get those improvement or repair projects done. Plus, they will make your extended stay at home more enjoyable.
Find balance by learning about mindfulness and meditation — Yes, these are stressful and worrisome times. Mindfulness and meditation might help, calm nerves, and keep you centered. No idea what to do? There are plenty of apps out there to help you get started (e.g. Headspace).
Let’s not overlook that everyone is affected by the current situation, which obviously includes our partners, spouses, and kids. Being deliberate in this area will reduce tensions and cabin fever:
Reconnect, talk, and laugh together — With work in the office, school, and various activities and appointments, we are usually very busy and often pass like ships in the night. Now is a great time to reconnect with each other, have real conversations, and find things to enjoy and laugh together.
Eat meals together — I don’t know about you, but in our household, we don’t always have the chance to eat together due to different schedules. Maybe the new norm allows you to adjust and actually all sit down to eat together and have family meals?
Watch movies together — While I don’t think spending excessive time in front of the TV is a good thing, this may be a good time to rediscover your DVD collection, try out new streaming services, and watch movies together. You might even find films that spawn deeper conversations within the family.
Cook together — For some, cooking may be the specialty of one of the adults, but even if so, why not cook together as a family and learn? Services that deliver packages with ingredients (e.g. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc.) still operate and might give you the opportunity to try something new and up your cooking skills while avoiding the grocery store.
Find ways to exercise together — Our normal gym and PE routines are disrupted and fitness facilities are closed. Yet, it’s important for your physical and mental health to continue to get exercise. So here’s your chance to see how you can do something together and get everyone in the family involved. Try yoga as a family, or walking, running, or hiking (if permitted) together. Or start a kickboxing routine in the garage. Figure something out.
Play together — Blow the dust of your board games, here comes an opportunity to see who the Monopoly or Jenga champion is. Don’t forget old classics like chess or checkers. Or try that big puzzle or challenging Lego project. And yes, there are those games in the game console that you could play together.
This unprecedented time challenges all of us, as individuals and as families and employees.
We can get overwhelmed, angry, and frustrated OR we can adjust, adapt, and take a different perspective. If we look closer, we may find opportunities within the chaos and newness. We can try to hold on to old habits and routines that were suitable for our “normal” lives before. Or we can adapt and form new routines that make sense for the new circumstances we suddenly find ourselves in.
Our lives continue and hopefully, our careers as well — just in different ways for now. We still have professional and personal goals. We still have skills we need to nurture or develop. We need to continue to care for our bodies and minds as well as for our loved ones.
If we’re deliberate, open-minded, and creative, we can make the best of this situation and even seek out positive opportunities for ourselves, professionally, personally, and as a family.