What to do when your entire family is hiding from a virus?

You’ll need more than a few iPads to make this work.

Ever since an unknown 55-year-old man from China’s Hubei province decided it might be a good idea to eat some exotic animal take-out, the world has been graced with it’s first kick ass pandemic since the H1N1 Swine Flu craze 11 years ago.

And just to make sure we’d have the most amazing pandemic ever, the United States government has literally dismantled almost everything that could have prevented something like this from happening.

And here we are. Our kids are at home, the neighbors aren’t going anywhere and you have way too much hand sanitizer and toliet paper for any sane person to own.

And you still have to get your work done.

With all of our schools shutting down, sports teams packing it in, retail stores going offline and everyone on the planet working remote, we’ve shifted into a strange timeline where we’ve been effectively sidelined by Mother Nature.

For some of us who are native remote/virtual workers, it’s interesting to see the giant volume of content being produced for remote work. Titles like ‘suddenly remote?’ or ‘how to get up and running quickly with remote work’ or ‘I can’t travel to my job, now what?’ are a few themes I’ve seen lately.

The real question is this:
How in the hell am I going to get anything done with so much distraction around in the house?

And here’s the real answer:
You’re only going to get half the amount of work you normally get done… no matter how many routines, rules, boundaries or land mines you have in place to ward off others seeking your attention.

And that’s a very healthy and positive thing.
Here’s why.

Searching for pea pods and making a pretty good mess in the process.

I have a seven year old son that’s soon to turn eight in May.

He won’t have school, soccer, karate, swimming, trampoline parks, regular parks, libraries, bowling alleys or malls to keep him entertained. He’s been given a wonderful two week (or more) vacation from routine.

We have him set up to do two hours of written/school work in the morning, an hour of play with the next door neighbors friend, then an hour lunch. The rest of the day is a kid exchange where each of us takes turns watching the pair play board games, play imagination games or anything else they can think of… all the way till it’s time to get dinner ready.

If we were living in a perfect world, there would be no interruptions and everything would go according to schedule. I’d get at least 5–6 hours of work done and feel pretty good about getting to bed on time when everyone goes to sleep at 10:00 PM.

Seeing as how I’m writing this at 1:52 AM (and have been doing so for four straight days), that’s just not realistic.

Basically, your productivity is going to be slashed by at least half… maybe 2/3’s on days where things go to pot.

It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how draconian you can be to your kid when you yell at him/her to never bother you again during an online meeting (and F you if you do that sort of cruel sh*t).

If your kids are older, you can certainly put more mechanisms and rules in place to keep your boundaries intact for deep work and meetings. But even then it’ll be a challenge… especially if your bandwidth is being taxed by multiplayer gaming, video conferencing and YouTube streaming.

But temper your expectations.

This whole COVID-19 pandemic lockdown situation is going to be here for a least a month… maybe longer for some countries with people who are a lot more susceptible to the virus.

And that’s where I implore you to look at the real opportunity sitting right in front of you.

You can spend more time with your loved ones.

How is it possible to have such a large human child on a smaller one? It defies modern physics.

It could be your dog, husband, wife, kid, relative, dog-kid, relative-wife or some combination of the above. Whatever the situation, this is the time to invest your attention , compassion and empathy to those that haven’t had much of it lately.

Your job and it’s various responsibilities are always going to be there. You’ll eventually go back to long commutes, boring in-person meetings, ridiculous deadlines and migraine headaches. Why rush that?

This is a moment in time where you can create some memories that aren’t about panic or pandemics. They’re memories that will last you a lifetime.

Spend this time with your loved ones while waiting for things to normalize a bit. Take pictures, play games, start projects, explore the world and have a lot of fun.

You’ll be glad you did.

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Robert Skrobe

Robert Skrobe

I run Dallas Design Sprints, The Design Sprint Referral Network and Talent Sprints.