These are unprecedented times and with so much uncertainty it’s hard not to feel scared and uncertain about the future. As we enter this time, it is important to seek new places to find joy, learning and inspiration. For those of you looking for something else to do besides watch the news, scroll social media, or binge on Netflix, I wanted to share the top 5 ways I’m staying positive and productive.
I know it seems all but impossible to think of possible silver lining at this time when many of us are worried about the health and finances of ourselves or a friend or family member but taking care of ourselves lowers stress, and maintains both mental and physical health. Remaining productive is more important than ever. Don’t focus on what you can’t do…think about what you CAN accomplish during this time.
1. Set a Schedule
With 4 kids 5 and under I have had to adjust my schedule significantly to find a new “normal” . Having a set schedule gives me a sense of purpose and sets me up for a productive day. It’s easy to stay in my PJs all day, but I feel so much better after I shower and have breakfast with my family before homeschooling starts. Morning rituals set you up for a productive day ahead. I also find it helpful to make a list each night of the top 5 priorities I need to accomplish in the day ahead. There are so many distractions at home, the list keeps me on track so I don’t mistake busyness for progress. Plus, I feel so productive at the end of the day checking things off the list. They can be anything from laundry, to taking a walk outside, to an investor call. Be intentional with your time. I also put a limit on my daily screen time, especially now when it is so easy to get consumed by the media. This also helps to ensure I don’t mistakenly get lost in endless hours of digital distractions.
2. Reinvest in your Relationships
Now is a perfect time to nurture any and all your relationships. Think of someone you care about who you haven’t talked to in a while and make it a point to reconnect (today!), even if it’s just with a quick text, email or a five-minute phone call. Let them know you are thinking of them and how much you value your relationship. You can also call up friends you may have lost touch with that you miss having in your life. It’s the perfect time to reconnect. It’ll make you feel good and remind you of all of the people who are in your corner. Plus, it’ll help you keep your life centered on what’s really important: the people in it.
There are great tips and tricks to stay connected with family and friends during this time of social distancing. I use Facetime daily to stay in touch with my parents and family in Oregon and my twin sister in LA, the bonus is my kids love it too. It’s important we continue to celebrate life’s significant moments – birthdays, anniversaries, babies, even if they are virtual. We are celebrating my father-in-laws 70th birthday on virtual video and I have a friend who is doing a gender reveal party on Zoom (which offers free video and phone conferencing for up to 100 people for a max of 40 minutes at a time). You can even change your Zoom background to hide a messy kitchen or kids playing behind you. Yesterday, I was on a Zoom call with someone scuba diving with bright yellow fish swimming by, someone on a beach in Bora Bora, and someone in outer space.
3. Unleash Your Inner Creativity
This is the perfect time to pursue a new at home hobby. You can read, cook, paint, write, sing, and dance. And thanks to the internet and YouTube, you can learn new hobbies or sharpen your hobby skills for free. Whether it’s cooking, art, writing, gardening, knitting, calligraphy, scrapbooking, or origami.
It’s also a great time to read an inspiring book. There have never been more ways to access great writers and great thoughts – whether it’s audio, download, or physical books from Audible, Amazon, or Scribd . There are also great apps like Blinkist (for non-fiction) and others that offer key takeaway written or audio summaries for quick review. Apple Books (formerly iBooks) also announced a free ‘stay at home’ collection of read-alongs for kids, cozy mysteries, and audiobooks.
Some recommended books for inspiration: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. I also wrote The Execution Factor: The One Skill that Drives Success, designed to help people overcome obstacles and achieve success in business and life, based on my own experiences of hardship as an entrepreneur.
You can also use your imagination and get creative inside your home and yard. Whether it’s families creating “special” additional spaces and rooms in the form of a couch fort or putting up a tent in your backyard to create another room while enjoying the outdoors. We set up a tent in our backyard and it has provided hours of fun and entertainment, creating a special new kid space. When they get tired of it, I may convert it into an office! I also know people working from home who are turning their cars into phone booths for virtual work meetings.
4. Practice Gratitude
It feels like everyday can bring a new worry or new fear about what is going on with the pandemic. One of the best ways to combat worry, fear and anxiety is to practice gratitude. Gratitude is proven to help you reduce stress, get better sleep and stay healthier. A Harvard Medical School study showed that people who practice gratitude lead happier lives, are more optimistic, and have lower stress levels and better health overall.
A simple to implement practice is to start and end each day with 3 things you are grateful for (there is also a great journal designed for this – The 5 Minute Journal). You can make gratitude a shared practice at family dinner and have everyone share one thing they are grateful for.
We all have things we can be grateful for. Whether it is your health, your family, your pet, the food on your table, the many people working at hospitals, grocery stores, warehouses, pharmacies, delivery drivers, and many others who are working tirelessly at the frontlines to support all of us and the community.
Be sure to also practice self-gratitude. Reflect on what you are doing well, or what you have accomplished (no matter how small), think of your personal strengths that are helping you and the people in your life positively handle this crisis. It’s important we give as much compassion to ourselves as we do others. Adding simple touches to your most frequented rooms to inspire you or put you in a positive mindset are also great. One friend framed simple positive affirmations in her home work space so she is able to look at them where she spends the most time every day.
5. Start a Side Hustle
Nearly half (45%) of U.S. workers say they earn extra income on the side (according to a 2019 Bankrate.com report). As the economy feels uncertain and many individuals are impacted financially, having multiple streams of income has become top of mind for many.
This could be the perfect time for you to consider pursuing one or more Side Hustles based on your lifestyle, schedule, skill set, and income needs. Some areas of immediate opportunity due to increased demand for side hustles right now include care workers, package and grocery delivery, grocery shopping, and online tutoring & teaching.
Side Hustles and gig economy positions are expected to continue to play a key role in these times and beyond as businesses value the flexibility provided as they navigate uncertain demand. There is also a greater need for innovative thinking, entrepreneurship, out-of-the-box solutions and problem solving than ever before. Side Hustles are a great way to earn income, pursue passions, and build your entrepreneurial skill set.
As an entrepreneur who started my first business from my kitchen table, I’m very passionate about Side Hustles, and I recently partnered with Women Entrepreneur for an initiative that seeks to support 20,000 women starting side hustles in 2020. You can learn more about it here at sidehustlestartupkit.com. Technology has made it easier to find the right side hustle that is perfect for you, and to continue to advance your knowledge and upgrade your side hustle. LinkedIn also posted a great article this week on who is hiring right now.
You can’t change the current situation, you can only change how you react to it. You have the power to be positive and productive. Set a schedule, reinvest in your relationships, practice gratitude and try something new.
When fear, anxiety, frustration, or stress start to kick in, turn off the news, put down your phone and focus on things that make you feel happy, passionate, and in control.
Think positive thoughts. Speak positive words. Choose a positive attitude.
You have the power to choose what to focus on.
Kim Perell is widely recognized executive, entrepreneur, investor and national best selling author. A great believer in paying it forward, Kim loves to help young entrepreneurs achieve success and is an early stage investor in over 80 start-ups, 15 of which have successfully been acquired by some of the largest Fortune 500 companies.