With (hopefully) the worst of COVID-19 behind us, and work beginning on rebuilding the economy and returning to some sort or normalcy, I thought it a good time to reflect on some ‘teachable moments’ and what I might do differently going forward.
COVID has undoubtedly brought a huge amount of pain, anxiety and fear into the world. Even if we haven’t suffered personal loss, our world has changed, and we most likely have as well. Things will never be the same again, and we will all have to learn to adapt to a new normal (Christchurch EQ survivors should be good at this by now).
There have been some silver linings (maybe a greater appreciation for personal hygiene and hand washing?) and many have found the forced home detention has given them a good opportunity to reflect on changes they want to make in life. Maybe they’re considering changing their daily routine, or evaluating what’s important to them and reorganising their life accordingly.
So, here are a few things I started doing differently during lockdown, and found helpful. Feel free to borrow them, or come up with your own.
1 – Structure my days
With the lockdown, it was all too easy to be frivolous with my time. Have breakfast at two in the afternoon, play video games until 5 or spend the day in my PJs – there were no rules and everyone was making it up as they went. I quickly realised I would need to be a bit more disciplined about how my day was structured if I was to get work done (and unlike some of my friends, my workload had actually increased!).
One thing I did was limit the number of times I was checking my emails. It used to be about every 30 minutes, and I switched to just twice a day – once in the morning and once at the end of the work day. This gave me a full, uninterrupted day, and my productivity improved. We’re maintaining a response time of under one working day, all our websites are still being monitored 24/7 by third-party support and clients have login access to their website, so nothing would be desperately urgent. Of course, what our clients think is very important to us, so if you feel like we are not responsive enough, please let us know!
2 – Make more of a concerted effort to think of others
One thing about isolation is that it’s not conducive to thinking about others – you actually have to make a deliberate effort to stop and consider how others outside your immediate bubble are doing. Obviously, doing lockdown and forced social distancing, there were fewer opportunities to help (I was able to do some grocery deliveries for some older neighbours) but sometimes just a quick message or phone call to check in was better than nothing.
I’m keen to keep that mindset post-lockdown, and make more of an effort to find ways to help others in the local community.
3 – Live healthy, live simple
I’ve never been huge on consumerism (maybe why my business is focused on offering cheap, affordable websites) but the lockdown provided a very good opportunity to review my weekly routine, to realise I really didn’t need to go out for a meal every week, I could live without the movies, or just going for an aimless drive.
Forced home detention was also a threat to healthy living – less exercise and there were reports of things like alcohol consumption, snacking and general couch-potatoe-ness increasing. I knew I needed to be strict with myself to stay in shape, and make sure I was ready when the football season resumed.
I rediscovered the joy of home cooking, baking, life without retail therapy and focusing on free pursuits like online learning and living room workouts (although I am back at the gym now, that’s a must have for me).
4 – Limit my exposure to the media
When something unprecedented happens like this (well, in our lifetime) most of us are glued to whatever media channels we can to keep ourselves up-to-date. What’s happening, and where. When will it end? When can we go back to a normal life? Nothing generates media interest like a disaster, and this has been on a massive scale, so of course we’re all consuming a lot more media.
After a couple of weeks of following Facebook, Reddit, Worldometer etc. with way too much keenness, I started to realise it wasn’t good. I had a good general understanding of the situation, I knew the requirements of the lockdown and how to stay safe – everything else was often just filling my head with a lot of negativity (which we all know the news media thrives on).
So, I made a point of deliberately limiting my exposure to all forms of media – the news media, social media and TV. I unfollowed a few pages and channels, and I only checked in every day or so, and for a strict amount of time (although, if I’m honest, I still get lost in Reddit, gah, I hate that site!).
5 – Take one day at a time
This one is hard for me because, by nature, I’m a planner. But in a world that is currently so unpredictable (or “uncertain times” as so many companies love to say – this yt video illustrates the point hilariously!) it’s almost impossible to plan too far ahead with any kind of surety.
It’s easy to let your imagination run away (maybe hyped up on all the negativity – see point #4) and envision a scary dystopian future of epic recessions, economic collapse and streets full of infected zombies. But, like they say, a lot of what you worry about never happens. In all likelihood, society will recover and return to relative normalcy in time. Yes, things will change, and some things might change for good but the basic structure of life will remain the same. The core tenets of an economy will remain – businesses producing, selling and consumers buying.
There will be more radical shifts in some industries (we’re already seeing the tourism industry trying to refocus and target the domestic market, and airlines will work to become more efficient and economical) but other industries will get stronger (like online meeting software and e-commerce solutions).
Experienced business owners know that the only constant is change – there are always new threats and competition can come from anywhere. You need to learn to adapt, capitalise on opportunities and reinvent your business to meet the changing needs of your customers. The better you can do that, the more likely you’ll weather any future change.
It’s not always easy and change can be stressful, but just take a breath and carry on – you can do this.
So, those are my five main takeaways from the COVID lockdown. What are yours?
I hope that whatever changes you’ve had to go through, you’ve been able to make the best of it, keep your sanity intact and maintain your sense of humour. If there’s anything we can help with, please email us (and know we’ll be checking our inbox at least twice a day ;).