We are living in unparalleled times, and as the traditional business world has come to a halt with COVID-19, I’m following CDC guidelines and encouraging you to as well. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, I’m finding ways to be productive working from home. I like the reminder that if you can control your focus, you can control your future. Here’s a list of things I’m doing daily to keep me focused:
Regardless of your religion, creed, or background, reconnecting with your spiritually is important. For me, focusing on my spirituality helps me with anxiety, fear of the unknown, and brings me peace knowing that God will get us through this.
- Check in with family
As a family, we made the decision to sequester our parents to their home early last week. We believe it’s in their best interest, and we’re utilizing FaceTime at the end of each day. My nieces and nephews enjoy it, and our parents do as well. We encourage them to exercise, organize their home, and enjoy spring cleaning. Personally, I’m taking time to organize and purge clothes I haven’t worn in years knowing someone will enjoy them soon. I’m also checking in with elderly aunts and uncles who could use a reason to smile during the quarantine.
- Social media, email, text purge
If you’re like me, you have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, old emails in your inbox, and text messages from (my goodness) years ago. Take time updating your profiles, deleting old texts, unfollowing accounts that don’t add value, muting folks spewing negativity (or fake news), and deleting old emails that take up storage space on your drive and in your mind. I cannot underscore how rewarding this process is.
- Calling clients
You can add value in a number of ways by expressing gratitude, listening to clients’ issues and how COVID-19 is affecting their family and team, offering advice, and finding ways to problem solve. They’ve supported you tremendously over the years, and a genuine thank you and offer of support will be well received and appreciated.
I am catching up on podcasts, Ted Talks, and articles of interest that I share with clients, friends, and people I know who might appreciate them. I’m also catching up on magazines sitting on my desk and reading more than a two books per week. Books are a wonderful way to feed your mind and personal growth, and a good book is like candy for the brain. I just finished “Shut Up and Listen” by Tilman Fertitta, and next on my list is Malcom Galdwell’s “Taking to Strangers” (I wish that was an option right now!).
Having goals and updating them by week, month, and year has always been helpful. I’m taking time each day to assess opportunities, plan for the future, and prepare for business as usual after COVID-19. I’ve never been one to just watch what’s happening or focus on the negativity and complain. Instead, I watch the news, think, plan, ask questions, ideate, and make common sense decisions (and follow CDC guidelines). We will get past this crisis and, when we do, having a plan will put you in position to advance quickly.
- Health and wellness
Take one hour a day to train the body. Whatever your strength and whatever you prefer, you can still challenge yourself at home. There’s no need to order a machine or use another excuse to not get started with millions of free programs on YouTube and apps from gyms or your TV, etc. Take a few minutes to find something you enjoy and challenge yourself (30 minutes for a beginner) to an hour. I follow a fantastic (and free) live yoga flow from my friends at Community Yoga Studio on Instagram TV with classes offered daily. Their vinyasa flow helps with meditation and to focus on connecting my mind to my body, one breath and one pose at a time.
- Cooking and carryout
My traditional business revolves around breakfast meetings five days a week. Since COVID-19 has changed that program, cooking daily and meal prepping is the new normal. It’s cleaner, maybe a little healthier (when I’m not snacking), and I can control my menu. I’m also ordering carryout every other day from my favorite small business restaurants.
I drink 128 ounces each day, and you should consider it, too. Is a gallon too much for you? Start with one liter and work your way up. A gallon a day is said to help you immeasurably by boosting brain function and it will give you more energy.
Let’s be real about escapism – we need it. While binge watching an exciting series or movies can fill up your day, I recommend programming through which you learn something. If you’re into sports, I suggest the “30 for 30” series from ESPN, and for movies, try documentaries, political thrillers (“The Spy” on Netflix), and profiles based on true stories (“The Founder” on Comcast). If you’re looking for humor, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is No. 1 on my list.
Derek Dickow is founder of Steward Media, a metro Detroit-based political and public relations firm in Birmingham. He is passionate about helping people in his network. He shares his strategy on “The Art of Networking” to various organizations, and his team creates networking opportunities for political leaders, CEOs, and professional service providers. For more information, visit derekdickow.com.