If you’re following the demands of our government, you’re reading this cocooned in your home under lockdown or self-quarantine.
At first, it didn’t seem so bad. You had the opportunity to catch up on a few Netflix shows that you’ve been looking forward to watching. You were able to read some good books without interruption and get a little extra sleep since you no longer have that annoying two-hour, back-and-forth commute to work.
Now, reality is starting to kick in. Your children are at home full time because the schools are all closed. You still need to get office work done, keep the kids occupied, entertained and play the part of school teacher.
You’re probably going a little stir-crazy and developing cabin fever. You desperately want to go outside, but don’t want to catch the coronavirus and you certainly don’t want to spread it to some else, especially if they’re older.
It looks like we will be hibernating in seclusion for a while. Our officials say it’s only temporary. Most likely two weeks will turn into two months—or longer—depending on how quickly we can contain the outbreak.
You now have a critical choice to make: you can either waste away the moments that make up a dull day or use this time to your advantage. You can continue binge-watching television and munching on snacks or you could embark upon a campaign of self-improvement and helping others.
It’s too easy to let the hours, days and weeks fly by without doing anything constructive. Use this extra time as a gift to be proactive. My advice is take a more challenging path and allocate your time toward productive and meaningful endeavors. I understand that you still need to work from home and have other responsibilities. Without all of the time involved with getting ready in the morning and commuting, you still have a lot of time on your hands. The weekends, when you are housebound, will feel especially long and drawn out.
Think of all of the things you’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to doing. It could be learning a new language, painting, writing, taking up a hobby, learning to play a musical instrument or exercising. Put together a schedule that incorporates all of the things that you want to accomplish and make sure you follow through on engaging in the activities.
This is a great time to reconnect with family and friends in a meaningful way. If you have a partner, spouse or children, it’s a terrific gift to spend quality time together. You can reach out to older relatives and neighbors and check if they’re okay or need any help. If they live alone, you may be one of the few friendly voices they hear. Contact people who you know live alone and may feel isolated; they’d appreciate it. Check to see if your skills, talent or experience can be utilized in the efforts to fight against the outbreak.
Break out the Monopoly set. Play your kids’ favorite video games with them. Put the phone down and just talk with your family. Ask about their lives and really listen to them. You can make this one of the best memories in their lives. Go for long walks or bicycle rides together. At a time of great chaos and angst, they’ll remember how you all got through this together.
If you are worried about the safety of your job—in light of the current mess we’re in—or were downsized, you can start an aggressive job search. Reach out to all of your contacts as they are stuck at home too and have no excuse for ignoring your requests for help. Put together a list of companies that you’d like to work for. Target internal corporate recruiters and folks who look like they’d be hiring managers and send out LinkedIn InMails and messages to them. Update your résumé, freshen up your LinkedIn profile, reach out to top recruiters in your space and practice your interviewing techniques. Interact on social media to build your brand and get noticed.
You might as well buy a new wardrobe online for interviews. Since interviews will be far and few between, it makes sense to do a lot of practicing and role-playing. Phone and video interviews will be the standard. Role-play video (if you’re not familiar with Zoom, it’s become the go-to option for video interviewing and connecting with colleagues if you’re working from home) and phone interviews until you feel comfortable with the mediums and have your elevator pitch nailed down.
This may be boring, but you might as well learn everything possible about your chosen career.
Read up on new developments, digest industry-specific blogs, newsletters, articles and books.
It’s not just work-related stuff. Use this time wisely to lift yourself up intellectually. Download and read books that will help you gain more knowledge. If you don’t like reading and have a short attention span, there’s a wealth of great podcasts and YouTube videos that can help you with self improvement, learning about new topics and staying abreast of fast-changing events.
You might as well be proactive. Allocate a few hours to getting ahead with your work. Start new projects and take initiatives on things that you know will eventually need to get done. Complete tasks that you’ve been procrastinating over.
Start an exercise routine. If you have weights in your house gathering dust and cobwebs in your basement, brush it off and lift them. Wake up early and go for a run when there are no—or few—people around. Search YouTube for yoga videos to follow and practice. There’s the old-school jogging in place, jumping jacks, sit-ups and push-ups. There’s no need to purchase a Peloton bike, but consider ordering a cheap stationary bicycle for the house (if you don’t end up using it, you can just hang your clothes on it). Think of how great you’ll feel returning to work looking fit and buff while your other co-workers packed on an extra 10 pounds from sitting on the couch eating ice cream all month.
There’s nothing wrong with a little introspection. Take some quiet time to assess where you are in your life and career. Contemplate if you’re happy with who you are and what you’re doing. Be honest with yourself. There’s no benefit to pretending that everything is going great if it isn’t. If you are not happy with your professional and personal life, start developing a strategy to achieve your goals.
Maximizing your time to improve and help others is a wise decision. Instead of feeling helpless, sorry for yourself and complaining about the current state of affairs, you’ll gain control over your life. When it’s all over, you’ll enjoy a great sense of accomplishment and appreciate that you didn’t squander precious weeks or months of your life.