Since the pandemic started, tell me if this sounds familiar — at first you’re lost, then you strap together a routine that gets stuff done, but now into week whatever, you’re starting to lose motivation.
My friend, when the pandemic hit, started running almost everyday after work. For me, I do push-ups and pull-ups everyday, but even that has gotten a bit stale.
The point is we all hope the world gets back to normal, back to flying in planes, going into the office, and hitting the gym… but that’s not happening for at least several more months. And several months is too long to put our life on pause. This new world requires new norms and a new type of positivity.
Together, we can do this!
Life is NOT on Pause
“Look forward. In the short run, a crisis many appear tactical and operational, but on longer timescales, new needs and the incapacitation of competitors create opportunities. Crises can also be the best pretext for accelerating long-term transformational change.” — Harvard Business Review
My advice, go ahead and Start and Finish a project. When we look back on this period of life one day, it would be great to remember it in terms of we did something we always wanted to do. So, pick something on your bucket list that you can get a head-start on now and just do it.
Here are a few ideas:
- Learn a musical instrument — Fact: People who play guitars are irresistible.
- Write a book (or screenplay) — Don’t get overwhelmed. Start by doing a 30 day writing challenge and get an app to work in, such as Scrivener, “the best writing app.”
- Redo your finances — I don’t care how old you are, either go get a financial consultant that you can trust or make a spreadsheet that can project your future savings.
- Start gardening with a raised bed — If you have a yard, or just sunlight through a window, try growing some herbs (supposedly easy) or gardening some veggies.
What does 6 months from now look like? Visualize what you think your life should be like. Jot down just a few sentences and describe. Try to streamline your life and take advantage of this must-change moment. Here’s what I did to get my life goals in order, my Epic Life Plan!
Rethink Your Routines for Future Success
We used to take Lyfts and Ubers, and now we Instacart and Doordash. We used to have a commute and time to get mentally ready for work, and now we walk to the other side of the house in our tshirt and login to work. We used to be able to book a ticket to another country and now there’s a ban!
Like many of you, I’ve “bootstrapped” my life together. But, we shouldn’t settle for, “good enough.”
According to a recent study, folks are working 19% more, eating 45% more, and following the news 55% more! It’s not all bad though, with folks also reading 45% more.
This “new norm” is going to continue for at least several more months, and so I want to create some new, healthy routines that will last.
Science shows routines are good for us, because it can reinforce and habituate habits. Yet, science also shows that variety stimulates the brain, which can trigger a cascade effect for creativity. Here’s some ideas to take advantage of both.
- Wake up early — I’ve heard the #1 thing you can do to have better sleep habits is to wake up at the same time, no matter when you go to bed.
- [DO THIS] as soon as you wake up — On Tim Ferriss’s latest podcast episode, Hugh Jackman (my man-crush!) says he wakes up 30 min early everyday to read with his wife. Reading is one of those things he really wants to do more of in life, but if we save it to the end of the day, undoubtedly it gets overcome by events. So [DO THIS] is that one thing you say you want to do more of… so do it.
- Exercise at a different time — I exercise after a work, which allows me to mentally separate from work. But being in Florida, the afternoon thunderstorms are now frequent. To adapt, I’ve started exercising in the morning sometimes, which leaves me feeling different the rest of the day.
- Try new foods that deliver — Tons of new startups that offer healthy, sustainable food that can be delivered straight to your door, that you can’t find in your grocery store. I’ve tried out Force of Nature sustainable meats, and on the way is Ground PDX nut butter.
“Resilience is a property of systems: an individual company’s resilience means little if its supply base, customer base, or the social systems upon which it depends are disrupted.” — Harvard Business Review 
We need to be resilient and rethink our system due to the disruptions in how we used to live our life.
Pandemic is Your Excuse to “Lose” Touch
I’ve noticed a weird thing happening to me due to the pandemic.
When it comes to relationships, it’s been telling who are more proactive in reaching out and checking in, and others that are nowhere to be found. Then again, it might be their innate extrovert or introvert personality, so we shouldn’t judge on that (although they should prob adjust).
What’s unexpected is my own inclination towards relationships. I used to delight in arranging social get-togethers, but I’ve lost that motivation. Maybe it’s just not the same after spending all day on Zoom and then spending my nights… on Zoom.
If this is the “new norm” for at least several more months, then let’s be strategic about it. Let’s rethink our relationships.
What a great time to “lose touch” with those people who just aren’t value-added to our lives anymore. I know that sounds mean, but let’s be honest with what you bring to each other’s lives.
Instead, lean forward and see who you’re learning from. Perhaps there are people who you didn’t have time for before, but you’ve always wanted to hang out with more. Now’s the time.
- Pandemic Mastermind Group — Arrange for a small group of people to discuss something specific — politics, new business idea, a book, stock market, whatever. Even better if the small group don’t know each other. That’ll lead to unexpected conversations… just be prepared to facilitate!
- Pandemic Networking — Make a list 5 or 10 people you know but are not very close with. Over the next couple days, text or chat with them. Ask them something beyond the normal pleasantries. Still make it short, brief, and then end the conversation.
- Pandemic Check-in — Get one of your close friends and each of you say what you’ll accomplishment over the next several months while in WFH-mode. Then gently checkin with each other and keep each other accountable to make progress. (My goal is to develop the framework for a new way to deliver content to you. Anyone interested in being my accountability buddy?)
And yes, all I did was add the word ‘pandemic’ to the tips above. 😉
Why? Try www.horsepaste.com, an online game you can play with your friends for a game night. Everybody looks at the same virtual board, and it gets updated simultaneously, so you all stay in sync with the game. Super easy to learn, need at least 6 players.
Pandemic is the Perfect Time to Experiment
This weekend I went into Settings for my iPhone and iPad, and clicked, “Reset Home Screen.” Boom, all 100 apps are broken out of their folders and organized alphabetically.
Been using the same screen layout for awhile now and wanted to experiment with something new.
I decided to organize everything onto just one screen — no more swiping. Organized most into folders, but kept the most frequently used within easy thumb reach. So far, it’s been quite an adjustment. No more swiping to “look for” things to do on the phone. I’ve found it easier to do what I needed to do, and then get off the device quicker.
Pandemic mode sucks, but we need to make the most of it. This year is being called one of the suckiest years, but it doesn’t have to end that way.
“Don’t merely endeavor to mitigate risk or damage or restore what was; rather, aim to create advantage in adversity by effectively adjusting to new realities.” — Harvard Business Review 
Here are some experiments to consider:
- Used to be a gym rat? — Consider setting new fitness goals, such as walking further, swimming longer, 100 push-ups each day, or maybe even getting that elusive 6-pack.
- Used to spend all day on errands? — Consider setting up accounts with Saved Items, to make it easier to checkout and deliver.
- Kids at home? — Consider the “Agile Family Meeting” as described by Bruce Feiler, where he has family meetings like he’s programming an agile software! 
- Home a mess? — Consider decluttering. Spend an entire day and clean out your garage and toss anything that, “doesn’t spark joy.” Don’t stop there, declutter your phone and reorganize them apps.
- Feeling lost and confused? — Consider starting a meditation streak. They say it takes at least 21 days to form a habit, but why stop there — aim for 30 days in a row. I recommend the Headspace app.
- Laura Vanderkam email, 2020–07–01
- A Guide to Building a More Resilient Business by Martin Reeves and Kevin Whitaker
- How to Keep Your Team Motivated, Remotely by Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi
- Let Yourself Be Unproductive. At Least for a Little While. by Peter Bregman
- The Agile Family Meeting by Bruce Feiler
- How Different Personality Types Cope with an Always-On Culture by John Hackston
- If You Have Free Time Right Now, Spend It Helping Others by Ken Banta and Orlan Boston
- How to Network When There Are No Networking Events by Alisa Cohn and Dorie Clark
- We Asked 13 Designers to Share Their Work-From-Home Setups and Tips by Cat Dash
- I keep over 200 apps on my iPhone — here’s the system I use to organize them all by Dave Smith
- 12 Creative Layouts to Organize Your iPhone Home Screen by Hamish Dowell
- Tim Ferriss on Using Quarantine to Methodically Confront Your Fears and Desires by Andy Langer
- Activities since staying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic 2020 Published by Alexander Kunst, Jun 2, 2020