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:
- Study hall – work on schoolwork, read a book, learn something new
- Music – practice your instrument (they play trumpet, tuba, clarinet)
- PE – physical activity, walk the dog, go on a run, push-ups, etc
- Personal Development – contribute to yourself, hobbies, make something
- Home Project – contribute to the home, chores, meal prep, clean something, help mom
- 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!
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.
- Coping With Anxiety During a Pandemic.pdf
- Handling Self-Isolation and Quarantine.pdf
- Leadership Resiliency and COVID-19.pdf