Let’s be honest: you’re here for the list. So we’ll dive right in.
1. Experiment with your usual process.
Like I said in a previous post, nothing is normal right now. In a lot of ways (on top of the obvious and serious health issues), that’s scary and frustrating. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to shake up your usual workflow. Find fresh ways to solve problems you see on a regular basis. It could be as simple as tweaking one of your usual steps. Better yet, inject a completely different way of thinking into your process and take it for a test drive.
Here’s a for instance. If I’m writing a semi-lengthy piece of content (think body copy, email content, radio script, positioning statement, etc.), I almost always start long intentionally. That way I get all the details in before simplifying it to be more concise, engaging and digestible.
Lately, I’ve switched it up by starting with really tight, independent phrases. Keep them punchy from the start. Then arrange them in a way that makes sense and smooth it out to be cohesive. It may not sound like a big change, but it’s offering insights I may not have gotten if I’d gone about business as usual.
2. Keep the collabs coming.
If you’re used to working around others and love those “Hey, can you look at this?” pop ins, working from home is one hell of a challenge. Feedback is invaluable in nearly every line of work. And it feels like it’s at even more of a premium now. Luckily, a change in physical space doesn’t have to mean outside perspectives are off limits.
You’re not the only one feeling this way. Your co-workers are likely going through the same “hey does this suck?” withdrawals and would happily lend an ear. Even if you’re used to working alone, a mini collaboration break can be exactly that—a way to break up days that feel insanely monotonous right now.
3. Learn more about a neighboring expertise.
You’re an expert for a reason, and that doesn’t need to change. Just as importantly, this tip doesn’t have to be an extra item on your to-do list. It may be as simple as changing up your current quarantine pastimes.
Instead of marathoning Parks & Rec for the fifth time this week (guilty), throw on a Netflix documentary about a field related to yours. Are you a creative? Watch something about chefs and crawl into their brains for an hour. I recently went down a YouTube rabbit hole watching a web series that challenges hip hop producers to build a beat from three randomly selected records. No, I don’t do what they do (nor could I), but it’s always incredible to watch a talented creative think on their feet and use their talents in real time.
Again: I’m not saying you should abandon all leisure and turn your brain into a tire fire of productivity. There are 1,000 good reasons to destress while maintaining some sort of work/life boundary right now. But it can also be easy to let your thinking stagnate in these circumstances. Learning more about a tangential topic offers a nice boost that’s still entertaining.
4. Tune into a webinar.
Any hopes of 2020 conferences or industry events seem to be dashed at this point. But there’s a good chance you can still learn from thought leaders in your field. Many would-be keynote speakers and panelists are finding quarantine-friendly alternatives to classic venues.
Recently, CanceledCon united many notable names in the creative field for a free two-day online event. You can still check out a recording of their broadcast for inspiration and insights.
If you take a peek around, you’ll likely find an archived event or upcoming broadcast that’s applicable to your field. Speakers gonna speak, and they’ll find a way to get it out there.
Sure, I bet they would appreciate your full and undivided attention. But you could also put something on in the background as a replacement for the music or podcast you usually have on.
5. Stay active. Somehow. Doing something. Somewhere.
This is not earth-shattering, innovative or sexy. But it is one of the simplest things you can do to stay sharp. I could add a link to a fancy study, but just Google “physical activity brain” (you don’t even need a full phrase!) and take your pick from an endless list of articles that support this fact.
I know it can be a challenge to get moving while you’re cooped up, but this is one of those instances where absolutely anything is better than nothing. Do a few push ups randomly throughout the day. Put on a YouTube workout. Take your kid on a horseback tour of your home or apartment. If you have space and can maintain social distancing, get outside and double down with the positive effects of fresh air and sunshine.
What did I miss?
Drop me a line with your favorite way to stay sane and get better at what you do, preferably in that order. Better yet, maybe we could even tackle that collaboration tip together. I’d love to hear from you either way.