Two years ago, I suffered a significant neck injury that left me working in isolation from home (really, just from my bedroom) for months. At the time, it was the most challenging experience of my 25-year career.
It’s amazing how many blessings come in such convincing disguises.
That experience of working in isolation for so long (or at least trying to work), has prepared me for this current COVID-19 crisis in ways I could not have imagined.
While recovering from my injury and moving through my first experience of “working in isolation”, I penned a blog post with 10 suggestions for staying both productive and sane while locked away at home. You can read the original post here.
It is amazing how true that advice remains today. While public health officials have replaced the doctors from my previous experience, and self-isolation has replaced injury, I’m thankful I have that earlier experience to draw upon now.
Here are those 10 suggestions I offered for those stuck working in isolation:
1. Stay positive, and proactively tap into whatever healthy resources you draw upon for mental, emotional and spiritual strength.
2. Responsibly (i.e. listen to your doctor!) test and define the limits of what your injury or illness will allow you to do.
3. Be clear and consistent with yourself, your loved ones and your colleagues on what those limits are while working in isolation, so that everyone can make the adjustments needed to stay productive and supportive.
4. Build the most productive work plan possible within those bounds.
5. Keep staying positive!
6. Double down on the things you can still do (e.g. if you can call and email clients, then schedule more time in your day to do so).
7. Become a student of your business. While you’re working in isolation, read up on your industry, your clients, and your competitors every day. Then share the good stuff with your team or others you think might find it useful.
8. Get serious (finally!) about professional development. Dig up the books, podcasts and e-learning modules you have bookmarked for years but never done anything about.
9. Invest more time into your team and colleagues who are also working in isolation right now. Ask people how they are doing when you call them, and then actually take an active interest in their response! What projects are they working on? What challenges are they encountering? How’s life, in general? You’d be surprised how well received your expression of interest in their lives and work might be.
10. Mentor someone. Has someone ever asked you for advice with their job or career? Now is a great time to reach out with a note or call to see how they are doing.
These are difficult and disruptive times. But they do not have to be unproductive or demoralizing times. The suggestions I’ve outlined above can help us stay productive and positive in the midst of all this drama.
But those are just my ideas. What strategies are you adopting right now to make working in isolation a little more productive?