How are you coping with this?

When I started this blog 7 years ago, my plan was to write about Excel ONLY. No other topics. Ever.

But in all honesty, I’m a little preoccupied with COVID-19. So, I want to take one post to share how I’m coping with it and ask how you are coping with it. I hope that if we talk about it and share ideas, we can help each other get through it.

I’ll go first. I’ll share some things that are helping my family. Then, I’ll invite you to share what you are doing by posting a comment.

1. Comfort of Routine

In general, I find comfort in routine. I feel unsettled when I don’t have anything scheduled or any overall plan for the day. I tend to feel most relaxed when I have a plan or schedule in place. Historically, my normal weekly routine has provided a sense of comfort.

Then … bam. All this happened. My routine, and all of our routines, just blew up.

So, here is what my family did that really helped.

We intentionally created a new routine. It is a different routine than normal … but it is still a routine.

We have three kids, one is in middle school and two are in high school. Since they were home from school last week, we worked out a new routine. They are used to having class periods, so we just sorta simulated that with new at-home periods:

  1. Study hall – work on schoolwork, read a book, learn something new
  2. Music – practice your instrument (they play trumpet, tuba, clarinet)
  3. PE – physical activity, walk the dog, go on a run, push-ups, etc
  4. Personal Development – contribute to yourself, hobbies, make something
  5. Home Project – contribute to the home, chores, meal prep, clean something, help mom
  6. Act of Kindness – contribute to community, friend, write a letter, cookies for neighbors

They were free to direct their own time, do them in any order, and spend as much or little time on each. But, it gave them a guide.

Then, electronics opened at 4:30 pm.

My favorite thing each day last week was asking about their 6th period Acts of Kindness. The stuff they came up with was wonderful. It ranged from writing an actual letter to great-grandma who is in a care facility, to having a FaceTime call with grandpa who lives far away, to doing each other’s pet chores, to emailing friends an encouraging note. And it is strange, but I feel like they are now a bit more thoughtful and more kind in general. I hope it lasts 🙂

So, that’s one idea that helped us. Although our routine has changed, we found comfort and purpose in developing a new routine.

2. Focus with a List

I find it is now harder to focus on work stuff. It is like I start something, but then my mind just naturally wanders elsewhere. Historically, I’ve been able to focus and concentrate on work stuff for long periods of time, no problem. Now, not so much.

So, here’s what I’m doing that helps.

I write a very short to-do list, with maybe 3 items on it. I can see it at all times during my work day. This is very important … that it is visible at all times.

With my list visible, I start a work project. If/when my mind wanders, I allow it to wander. But then after a short time, I force myself to look back at my to do list. It reminds me exactly what I need to be working on and allows me to pick up right where I left off.

In all honesty, I’m not as productive as I was a month ago. But this trick has really helped.

And, I give myself grace and patience. It is ok that I’m not as productive as before. I give myself permission to feel all of this. I acknowledge that this is a strange time. It is ok if my productivity decreases.

I just keep making small baby steps forward. They aren’t giant leaps. But, it is still forward progress, slow and steady.

3. Don’t be Reckless

I noticed a strange feeling this past week. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I can best describe it as feeling reckless. It may also include a dash of rebel mixed with a bit of irresponsibility. It is hard for me to pin down exactly, but hopefully you get the idea.

This feeling popped up at various points. A simple example is my eating habits. I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app to help me watch calories for the past year or so. I’m usually pretty good about it. Of course, I’ll go over my target sometimes, but I use it as a guide. It has been super helpful.

Now though, I’m like … forget that! I’ll eat a huge bowl of ice cream and throw two cookies on top for good measure. This is what I mean … I feel reckless. Like, I know this behavior may not be good but I don’t care about the consequence.

This reckless feeling could obviously pop up in a variety of ways for folks. Another way it showed up for me is with my workout. I can’t go to the gym right now, so, that rebel feeling inside tells me to just stop working out.

Here’s what I do to fight this.

I remind myself that I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. Once this virus is behind us, I really don’t want to have to go back and start all over again.

I don’t want to go through all the hard work again. I don’t want to have to lose weight again. I don’t want to have to rebuild my strength again.

I remind myself that it is easy to keep my progress by maintaining good habits. I do not want to create a new mess that I’ll need to clean up when this is all over.

4. Tough Mindset

I noticed another strange feeling several times last week. I’m not sure what to call it, but it feels like nothing I do matters right now.

For example, I’ll start to write an Excel article or plan an Excel webinar and think … does any of this even matter? Is anything I’m working on important right now? Does anything I do have value?

Here’s what I do to help with this.

I remind myself that if it was important a month ago, it is still going to be important even if it doesn’t feel important right now. In other words, the work product itself has value. It is just that emotionally, it doesn’t feel valuable given everything right now.

I was talking about all this with my son Jason last night. He is a freshman in high school, and he said: “You know dad, when I have a big problem or something overwhelming like that, I just view it as a challenge. I then face the challenge. So, dad, are you going to let this defeat you? Or, are you going to defeat it?”

Wow! When he said that, my first thought was … when did you get to be so wise?

But as I thought about his comments, I saw the truth in them … this is a challenge. Not only a global challenge, but a very personal challenge. Do I have the mental toughness to ride it out? Can I face the challenge? Am I up to it?

His perspective helped me get tough mentally. I can handle this. I am strong enough to endure. I am tough enough to get through this challenge.

And so are you. You are tough enough to get through this challenge. You will face it. You will handle issues that come up. You are resourceful. You are smart.

25 years from now, school kids will come up to you and say … “Hey, you were alive during that corona thing. I’m doing a school report about it. Can you tell me about it?”

You’ll say, yes … and then you’ll tell all about the TP shortages, the long lines, the empty shelves, and sheltering at home. How everyone had to miss social events, parties, prom, and graduation. How everything was closed, including malls, Disneyland, sports, concerts, and schools. And you’ll tell all about how you faced, survived, and ultimately defeated the challenge.

What about you?

How are you dealing with this? Do you have any suggestions that may help others? Please share by posting a comment below…thanks!

Additional Resources

My insurance provider, Avera, sent a few resources to me. I found them to be very helpful, so I asked if I could share them with you. Although the Avera Employee Assistance Program EAP phone number and services mentioned at the bottom of each PDF are for Avera members only, the advice in the PDFs is really helpful to anyone right now. And, perhaps you have access to similar services with your provider or counselor.

 

Posted in

Jeff Lenning

50 Comments

  1. David Ringstrom on March 23, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Good stuff, Jeff. I’m coping by being sure to take things one day at a time. I’m also focusing on gratitude. Grateful for things I have, grateful for things that I accomplished in preparing for the shut-down, and grateful for the knowledge that this too will pass. We’ll get on the other side of this.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 23, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks … and I love your perspective about gratitude, thanks for sharing!

  2. Jerry Cooper CMA on March 23, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Yes! I can identify with those feelings of hopelessness, recklessness, etc. Routine is key to survival, but I’ve also found that now is not a bad time to change up some routines I’ve been procrastinating to change, such as a “tweak” to get my Outlook email under control. The whole world is changing around us, and there is very little we can control, so why not leverage the momentum and change one or two little things we CAN control–things that seemed so hard to change a few weeks ago?

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Jerry … love your comment, especially the part about realizing that there is little we can control, but use the momentum to change the things we can control. Great advice, thanks!

  3. Cathey Bayless on March 24, 2020 at 7:20 am

    About six months ago I found I had cancer. So I’ve been more or less sheltering in place for a while. I’m retired anyway so I’ve been home all day for a while. I am able to keep my routine mostly except appointments have been rearranged and cancelled. But I am finding that people are so thoughtful, going shopping for me and giving me a call to see how I’m doing. I’m going to give a friend a call right now to see how she’s doing.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 9:09 am

      Thanks Cathey for sharing, and I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. As you have, I’m finding people can be very thoughtful and caring, especially during these times.
      Thanks
      Jeff

  4. Tara Kenyon on March 24, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Since I’ve worked out of my home office for 10+ years, my day-to-day life is largely unaffected (except for not being able to go out to dinner) so I’ve developed routines over time, just to stay focused. I think your short to-do list is a terrific idea, and one that I plan to adopt going forward. If I occasionally get a little blue, I remember that I grew up in “Hurricane Alley,” and am, therefore, extremely grateful that we have running water and electricity, internet and mobile phones!

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 9:16 am

      Hi Tara … Hurricane Alley … wow! I’ll bet growing up there was a challenge. You know, I didn’t stop to realize how much worse this could be without the conveniences I take for granted … like water, electricity, internet, and mobile phones. Thanks for sharing that, I really appreciate it!

  5. Leslie Buck on March 24, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Thank you for this article Jeff. I am usually a very productive, focused individual as well and these past 2 weeks have been a trial. Your words have had a calming affect on me that I am very grateful for. I am hopeful that this time will give us all a new perspective as to what is most important to us and the world we live in. We will survive together.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Hi Leslie … thanks for your note, I’m glad the post was helpful. And I agree with your hope that this time will give us a new perspective to realize what it most important. And, “together” is a key word … I hope it helps to unify us.
      Thanks
      Jeff

  6. Julia on March 24, 2020 at 7:41 am

    This is the kind of encouragement we need right now. Focus was something I was working on before all of this, and lists have helped me as well. I have a to-do for the day to keep me on track for work (similar to your 3 items of so), but I also have a master list of things I can be doing when not working (similar to the list your kids have). This master list helps keep me from defaulting to social media, video games, tv, etc. when I feel overwhelmed and just want to escape. I realize those things are okay in moderation, but when used as an escape, they can exacerbate the overwhelmed feeling. The list includes things such as Bible study, read a book, try a new recipe, go for a walk, work on x project, etc.

    I’ve also struggled with the same, “does any of this matter” feeling with regards to my work. Something that helps with this is just writing down ways that I make a difference in my job. I also see this as an opportunity to brainstorm ways to improve. Times like this can help bring the “big picture” into focus allowing me to ask myself, how can I use my skills and my work to make the biggest impact. Shifting my mindset in this way gives me a new feeling of purpose and motivation to keep working hard.

    Thank you for the wonderful reminders and suggestions. Praying your family stays happy and healthy.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 9:26 am

      Julia, thanks for your wonderful note, I really appreciate it. I like your “master list” idea, of keeping a list of projects ready to go. I really like your idea of writing down ways that you make a difference in your job. I’m going to do that one today! And, I’ll take all the prayers you can send our way 🙂
      Thanks
      Jeff

  7. Hailey on March 24, 2020 at 7:53 am

    I have never left a comment on a blog before, but I have to say, this is great! In a world that seems full right now of worthless emails telling us that businesses, organizations, etc. are doing everything they can without really saying anything specific (and reminding us for the umpteenth time to wash our hands), and internet memes about toilet paper, it’s comforting to read something real that we can identify with. What you’re doing with your blog is ABSOLUTELY worthwhile, whether it is the Excel articles we all love and look forward to each week, or something more personal. Please keep them coming, because they make a difference.

    • Hailey on March 24, 2020 at 8:34 am

      I forgot to share the one other thing I have found that helps. It can be hard when you’re not used to working from home to separate the workday from home life – my thoughts keep drifting back to work after I’ve clocked out, or to doing home tasks like laundry when I should be working. I have found that I need to work in another room that I can close the door to when I am finished so, in the absence of a true office, I’m working in the spare bedroom. Once I close that door I feel finished.

      • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 8:36 am

        This is great advice Hailey! Carving out a physically separate work space is really helpful when it comes to keeping work at work, and being able to focus on work at work. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 8:57 am

      Hailey … thanks for writing your first blog post comment! I appreciate your kind note. I will definitely continue writing about Excel, and I have some really cool content planned for next month 🙂
      Thanks
      Jeff

  8. Steve Blake on March 24, 2020 at 7:53 am

    You have presented some excellent insights, Jeff. You have brought up some stuff that I unknowingly have been facing. I know at times, we might also feel our identity was anchored in those “routines,” and now we are at home and not interacting with other people. We can have an opportunity to wonder if what we do matters. I have a strong Christian faith that provides me the comfort I seek and assurance through articles like the one you have just presented.

    I know we have to our disposal, advice from around the world, and you have to be very selective as to what to accept. That said, when “those articles” are full of “Oh Wough is me,” it takes someone like yourself to present not only the problems but a way of escape that is more important today. As I said, I was, without realizing it, facing some of the same issues, and your advice is what I need to hear.

    Jeff, I look forward to your posts, and I’ve learned a ton of stuff from you. You really do matter, not just to the novice but to the advanced as well. I am a very advanced Excel user, and I look forward to your posts to present something that makes me that much better at my craft. (happens often) Keep up the excellent work. You are appreciated, and we will all get through this.

    • Steve on March 24, 2020 at 7:57 am

      should have said, “Oh Woe is Me”.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 9:37 am

      Steve, thank you for your note, I really appreciate it. I’ve not historically been very good about identifying my feelings, and just kinda push them down … but I’ve tried to improve in this area. I try to identify, analyze, and articulate them. I’m still working on it, but I’m glad that sharing these today has maybe helped you identify the same kind of things. Although our church went to online services a couple weeks ago, I’m thankful we have the technology to do online church these days! Glad to hear that even though you are an advanced Excel user, my blog posts sometimes help you improve your craft. Excel is big, and I learn stuff about it all the time too 🙂
      Thanks
      Jeff

  9. Excel Mike on March 24, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Good morning Jeff,
    Thank you for the new routine / list ideas. Feeling like I already have 3 strikes against me, over 55, male, diabetes and then switching from the work office where I have everything I need (like 3 large monitors, calculator, copier, printer, scanner, business phone, etc) to working from home where I am using an older laptop with an eclipse of the sun blocking out about 2″ in the top left corner of my screen, and not all the other equipment I use is one big adjustment. Then top that off with the emotional aspects of always leaving work at work and my home being my personal sanctuary just throws me off mentally. Tough adjustments just from the work angle. Thinking about Easter coming up and watching Easter services from my couch just seems weird. Going to the store and finding shelves empty. So many things just seem so wacked out. Just my thoughts.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 9:58 am

      Hi Mike … going from all your normal equipment, like 3 large monitors, down to a laptop with a screen that has missing pixels sounds like a real challenge. Plus add in the emotional stuff, and no doubt these are tough times. Our church is planning for online Easter service as well. Hopefully this is all very temporary!

  10. Margie on March 24, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Thanks Jeff for this uplifting article. I have been working from home since last Wednesday and it has been somewhat of an adjustment. Things that are working well for me are that I started a strict eating plan in January where I only eat three meals a day so I am not eating the snacks that are so much more available here than at work, I had been exercising at home before I went to work so I have continued getting up early to do that and last but not least, I began this year with a theme of being grateful. It sounds crazy I know but all of our routines have slowed down and I am grateful for that. As I look back, we were just going through the days and not having time to reflect on all the good things in our lives. This is a stressful time, but I am trying to stay focused on the positives. We are all strong and I feel we will survive. It is just me and my husband but he continues to go to work because he does HVAC which is considered essential. Our area has not been hit as hard as others, but we are still following the guidelines and staying home unless it is for work or food. One change he has made is that he wants to take a walk every day. This is a very positive change for him. I may take up your idea of making small lists because I have many things to get done but my productivity has decreased somewhat. Sounds like you have a great family. Take care and stay well.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 8:42 am

      Hi Margie … I have found that being at home more means more yummy snacks too! I admire your will power to avoid snacks … when my girls bake cookies it is pretty hard for me to say no 🙂
      And I like your observation about being grateful for the slowing down of things. Instead of running all over the place, I get an opportunity to be at home and spend time with my family. Thanks for sharing Margie!

  11. Alaina Mackin, CPA,CMA on March 24, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Jeff – thank you for writing this. To be honest, I don’t always read your Excel articles because I always tell myself I am too busy to get to it. Then of course when I need a tool that I know you’ve covered I go back and look for it. But today, when I saw your email come in, it felt different. Like, wow! Maybe I do have time. And then I realized I always do have enough time, and that I am choosing how to spend it. And sometimes that choice isn’t always what is best for me, even though it feels like I am doing the right thing.
    So – I guess my contribution to this forum is to say that we all make choices, and this COVD thing has made me start examining those choices in a different light. Now, I see that I need to make time for things that matter to my heart and soul.
    Hopefully, when tax season ramps back up in June, I will keep this perspective!
    Alaina

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 8:37 am

      Hi Alaina … I can relate to your comment 100%, and I’m trying to be more intentional about my time as well. After all, how we choose to spend our time is how we choose to spend our life. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Jodi Baker on March 24, 2020 at 8:46 am

    I am struggling with getting enough exercise. I usually get enough steps at work but not at home. I don’t have to get up and walk across to the other side of a building for something, even if it is just water for my coffeepot. Therefore I sit way too much. I am hoping to alleviate that when/if it stops raining so I can walk outside. Also, I was prepared for food during this time because I love to can, a love I picked up while living in the country raising my children. Now, it is still a good way to have fast meals available in the city.

    • Alaina Mackin, CPA,CMA on March 24, 2020 at 8:50 am

      Hi Jodi – I have been climbing the stairs at my house. I take a break every hour or so and climb a few flights. Besides, there is always laundry or something that needs to go upstairs!
      ;p

      • Jodi Baker on March 24, 2020 at 8:57 am

        We don’t have stairs, just a ranch house. However I have just learned a lesson, don’t forget to click on terms of use or it will wipe out your post and send you back to recaptcha!

  13. Travis Wallace on March 24, 2020 at 9:23 am

    Jeff,

    Thanks for posting this. I think a lot of us are experiencing things (and feelings) that we never thought we would. It is difficult to think ahead when we have no idea what “ahead” looks like. It is very unsettling, to say the least. I do think we will get through this but I also think that our world, and our lives, will look a little different.

    For those of you just starting on the work from home journey, welcome! There has been a lot of good advice on the thread so far, all of which I would echo. My one piece of advice is to not be too hard on yourself. It does take time to get used to – it took my several months before I was really comfortable with it, and I am still learning how to manage myself after almost nine years. Do the best you can with what you have.

    Thanks again for posting, Jeff!

  14. C Murphy on March 24, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Hi Jeff, I have always enjoyed your courses and tips, but I honestly don’t ever take the time to read any blogs & took the time to read yours. Your challenges and tools/techniques to forge through them are great advice – thank you. I have never had the opportunity to work from home and find it to be both a welcome change from the constant interruptions at work, but also missing that same interaction. The plus is I’m finding myself exercising more since I’m already in my workout clothes! 🙂 Glad you and your family are staying well, we are all in this together.

  15. Kim on March 24, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Hi Jeff – Thank you for this blog, A+ content. I think a lot of us are feeling the same way. I’m a bit of a home body and actually enjoy spending time at home. However, as you’ve mentioned, my focus has been way off lately and I’ve definitely had a few reckless thoughts. I too am using a list. I enjoy checking off completed tasks. The sense of accomplishment isn’t as satisfying as it was a couple of weeks ago, but I am trusting the process and taking baby steps daily. I think a big key to keeping my sanity is that I have changed my thoughts from, “Wow, I have to stay home; to – I am doing the right thing for my family, friends, coworkers…by socially isolating.” It’s a simple mind shift and I actually believe the more we all stay away from each other, the sooner this will end. I am looking forward to that day. Additionally, I have enrolled in a few webinars, continued studying for my CPA and updating my Excel skills. Thanks for keeping us sharp and sane Jeff!

  16. Matt on March 24, 2020 at 10:01 am

    Good post Jeff and you are demonstrating high emotional intelligence (EQ) by not only taking the time out to reflect on your feelings and emotions but then having the courage to take positive action to put yourself in a better frame of mind. I have been doing a lot of reading on EQ recently and assumed mine to be quite high as I have always thought of myself as compassionate, considerate and empathetic towards other people. However, after taking some online tests, the results showed that my EQ was a lot lower than I expected. The problem is that I am not very good at assessing my own emotions as to what they mean and what is causing them. I tend to just write them off, assuming I am just tired and so will feel better the next day if I sleep well.

    When Bill Clinton spoke out about why he had an affair all those years ago, he said the reason why he risked his marriage, career and lied to the entire nation he was put in power to serve was to manage his anxiety. I believe he would have received more sympathy if he would have just come out and said “I may have been smart enough to become the President of the most powerful country in the world but unfortunately I lacked the emotional intelligence to assess and deal with my anxiety more constructively”.

    So if people are struggling to decide on which area of personal development would serve them the best, then I would suggest that EQ could be a very useful one to work on over the next few weeks or months to deal with these challenging circumstances. Otherwise, we could all be faced with another pandemic of serious mental health issues, as humans are naturally sociable beings.

    Being grateful is also something I would recommend practising on a daily basis. I have no idea what it was like for our ancestors to live through the blitz in London during WWII but I can use my imagination to try to understand just how terrible and challenging daily life must have been for them. A siren would sound to signal that enemy aircraft were approching to drop their countless bombs and so everyone would immediately stop what they were doing and make for shelter. Imagine the fear and anxiety from hearing blast after blast wondering if the next one would be a direct hit on your shelter. And even if you were lucky enough to survive the latest raid, you then had the anxiety of wondering whether your home would still be left standing when you were finally able to resurface amongst the ruins. This went on for 8 months.

    We don’t have to deal with any of that. We get to stay in the comfort of our own homes with all this fantastic technology to keep us entertained and learn something new. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful that this is all that is being asked of me so I am absolutely determined to do the right thing and stay at home to see this out. I can do this. We all can if we put our minds to it and use the time constructively to improve ourselves. Maybe we will arise as better, kinder species for the greater good of our planet.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 10:35 am

      Matt … I just love your comments … THANK YOU!

  17. Mikah on March 24, 2020 at 10:31 am

    This is a great article, Jeff! We have been focusing on keeping the kiddos busy, getting fresh air when able (a walk or bike ride), and we are very grateful for what we do have and sending love and light to those who are getting hit harder with this outbreak/economic strain. Thanks for the tips and your perspective, I think it’s great.

  18. Judy Schmuecker on March 24, 2020 at 10:35 am

    In these crazy times, I have found that by keeping to my normal routine; i.e. getting up at the same time etc has helped. I get up and get in a 3 mile walk before I shower and sit down to get to work. I get up from my home desk the same way I get up at work and move around, at least once an hour. By trying to maintain my same routine, it feels like I’m at work just at a different desk. I keep the area where I work as a separated area and when the day is done, I shut things down and leave that area of the house to return the next day like I’m coming back to the office. I shut off the office at home just like I shut off the office at work. This is to keep my time to me to recharge and be ready to hit it again refreshed the next day.

  19. Jennifer Brunson on March 24, 2020 at 10:42 am

    Great article, Jeff. I especially love the plan for your kids. They need structure, too. My 3 kids are in 3 different colleges in 3 different states, but if they were home, I would certainly follow your lead. I worked from home for 14 years, but have been at the office for the last 5 years. Working from home is easy for me since I learned long ago how to manage that. It does take some time to adapt and people just need to give themselves the time it takes. We can’t be so hard on ourselves. This is uncharted territory and we are learning as we go. Mistakes will be made, but that is still a success because we learn from failure, too. I find myself feeling like I am preparing for a snowstorm so I am continually reminding myself that we won’t be losing electricity, water or internet so I can buy foods that need to be cooked and don’t have to get all the laundry done immediately. I love a to-do list. My motto is “If it isn’t on the list, it doesn’t exist!”. I’m glad you realize your work does matter. Your Excel knowledge has been a life-saver for me!

  20. Harriet Earley on March 24, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Thanks, Jeff – it is good to encourage interaction in ways and between people that we don’t normally interact with. So – I’m experiencing many of the things you are. Especially the drifting focus, although that seems better this week than last. I’m very worried about my organization surviving all of this, but then I remind myself of all the people (many of whom are my very own loved ones) that are out there in healthcare without proper PPE, isolated during a time of loss, and just scared out of their minds. Surprisingly (as anyone that knows me would attest) I haven’t felt reckless at all, but more like it’s time to pull up my big girl panties and “get on with it”. Last night my husband and I, along with another couple, arranged for a virtual birthday party for a friend in his 70s. We all had a drink, chatted about our fears, gardening, cooking new things – whatever we could think of. While I can’t speak for the others, I know my husband and I really enjoyed it and felt much more positive. So – I’m grateful to live in a world where we have some options to communicate. I hope all stay safe and well.

  21. Ms Mindfulness on March 24, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Jeff, Thanks for the blog and for everyone’s posts. As many have stated here and elsewhere, we will get through this together. It’s the “together” part we need to focus on. Even though we are not physically together, we can find other ways of creating togetherness. One thing that helps me is practicing Mindfulness. I work for a large healthcare system and we are all under an enormous amount of stress. I can feel it and I’m not a clinician but I do work that supports them. One of our psychiatrists teaches Mindfulness and has recently shared this link: https://blog.calm.com/take-a-deep-breath
    You can download the Calm app from your app store for free and receive access to a number of mindfulness recordings.
    Formal training with someone is great but not necessary. If anyone wants to try it out, just follow the instructions in the recordings. Mindfullness is a great practice for helping you calm your mind and focus on the present moment. Over time it will improve your ability to concentrate and become less susceptible to bad stress. Thanks for initiating this particular method of togetherness.

  22. Jack Krasner on March 24, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Jeff:

    Thanks so much for sharing a part of your life with us! The contagion adds to my anxiety since our house is on the market and I’m to hear from our realtor tomorrow regarding buyer offers….if any. My wife and I are isolating in our new rental home in our new city and are healthy. I read something by David Kessler who worked with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross regarding the five stages of loss. The part that really resonates with me is “anticipatory grief”. What the future holds for us when can’t control the outcome. Kessler’s advice is to know what’s real for most of us at the moment: we’re healthy, properly nourished and in a safe environment. Stay focused on that, express gratitude for it and if possible, give someone a big hug.

    Regards,
    Jack Krasner

  23. Kari on March 24, 2020 at 11:59 am

    All this togetherness is a real challenge for an introvert like me. Then adding working from home with all their noises in the background was starting to make me twist off! We started a schedule with our 4 kids yesterday even though it is technically spring break for them this week. They are already fighting less and seem more settled. They have certain assignments during certain time periods and it’s helping me work better from home.

    My next challenge is going to have to be the “reckless” behavior part. I admit that I have been eating like I’m on vacation and I need to tackle that next.

    Thank you for this article. It was very encouraging and gives great advice. PS. I love your Excel stuff too. I’m eagerly anticipating my company’s Office 365 update to roll out so I can use XLOOKUP like all the cool kids!

  24. Jodi Baker on March 24, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    I am having a problem with the eating like the food is going to evaporate if I don’t eat it now. I am trying to just get up and walk around until the urge passes.

  25. Katie Robinson on March 24, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    I’m having a difficult time focusing. Like you said, it doesn’t feel like it matters much right now. Especially since I’m in the tax field, and the major IRS deadlines got pushed back to 7.15.20. I want to nest. Talk to my sisters, clean out my closets, plant veggies; I want to do the things that bring me joy, move me forward personally, things that encourage growth, be it actual or metaphorical. I’m going to start setting a timer. I can’t get up to feed a bunny, or do a load of laundry, or stir the stew – the little things that waste my time and side track my concentration – until the timer has gone off. We shall see …

  26. Jon Acampora on March 24, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    GREAT post, Jeff! It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one struggling during this time. These are some great tips and strategies!

    I’ve also been trying to focus on gratitude. Just being thankful for the extra time I get to spend with the family and kids. And also finding motivation by helping and serving others any way we can.

    It’s a challenging time, but we will get through it. Up and to the right!

    Thanks for the inspiration, my friend!

    • Jeff Lenning on March 24, 2020 at 1:30 pm

      Jon – thanks man! I fully agree with you about focusing on gratitude, and being thankful for having some extra time to spend with family and kids. Our oldest daughter is a Junior in high school, and so we feel like our time with her living at home will be ending in a year or so when she heads out to college. So we cherish all of the time with her we can get right now. I know yours are younger than mine … so spend the time man with them now man, it goes by like light speed!

  27. Janice on March 24, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Jeff,
    I found so much comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who is having a hard time focusing. At work, we are reminded that its business as usual, keep working, we need you now more than ever… but what’s missing is acknowledging that it’s OK to feel a little scattered and that what we are going through right now is a big deal and it’s scary. Something I’ve done to help get through this challenging time: I have a little office area in my house where I am now working. I put up a bird feeder that goes right on the outside of the window. I find so much peace and happiness each time I see a bird go to the feeder. I’m even starting to recognize the chirps and know when the cardinal is near. That wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t working at home. It’s so important to find pleasure in the little, most basic of things.

  28. Steve Bell on March 25, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Jeff, Thanks for sharing your thoughts about coping with COVID-19 in this article. In addition to what others are saying, my two cents are: keep publishing new articles about Excel! A lot of people have more time on their hands for personal development than usual, and I suspect many, like myself, enjoy an escape from “the news cyle” by diving into expanding their knowledge and skills with Excel. You may find the engagement with new material from Excel University jumps over the coming weeks! Best, -Steve B.

    • Jeff Lenning on March 25, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks Steve … and yes, will do my friend!!

  29. Janice Costley on March 26, 2020 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and stating what all of us feel and are talking about with family, friends, co-workers. My company has the ability to work from home (IT firm) and we are on the forefront of helping our clients work through this pandemic. Our clients include Florida Department of Health Epidemiology and several National Guard units around the US. As the Controller, this is my first time “working from home” so totally new experience. As a company we are staying in touch with Microsoft Teams and posting incredibly thoughtful questions–today it’s how are you dealing with this – structure and securing a work space away from the family have been key repetitive comments.
    We are also letting everyone know about how some of our local charities, churches and “average people” are helping out. It’s the kindness of people (all of us) that counters the news and politics of this thing so I especially appreciate how you shared the kindness of your kids. These are the stories I latch on to to help me focus and get through and of course my faith. I believe this event will change all of us just as WW2 changed our parents and grandparents because it impacts EVERY community. I am very thankful for the experience.

  30. Paulette on April 1, 2020 at 12:42 am

    This is the best therapy I have had since my therapist quit! Very encouraging. I have been at home for 17 years, transitioning from at home mom to caregiver for parents and motherinlaw. Only in my early 60s, intended to go back to work for awhile, but 94yo MIL is still kicking. Took a course in excel in tech college a year ago. Need more practice. Thanks for the great blog. Sounds like you have good kids. Keep up the good work.

  31. Erica on April 1, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Hey Jeff,

    This is a great article and I have shared it with my coworkers at BELAY! I have gotten some great feedback and they have shared with their clients who might be struggling during this difficult time. I hope you and your family are continuing to stay safe and healthy!

    Kind regards,
    Erica

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