Earlier today I posted a photo to Facebook of the view from my “office” window.
As crazy as it sounds, I’m sitting within a foot of this window but when the shade is drawn it feels cramped. The shade is fairly transparent but the feeling is the same. So I opened it and then it doesn’t feel so tight.
I’m getting back my rhythm working from home. Routines are established and I am getting things done. A long time ago I learned how important it is to establish and maintain routines, particularly in uncertain or troubling times.
On July 31, 2001 I got laid off from a job. Every morning I still got up at 6:00 am, took a shower and got dressed. I chose clothes that if I had to go out of the house or meet with someone I could do so without having to change. Maintaining this was important I had learned, because treating every day like it was a vacation could lead to depression or worse could make a reintroduction back into the workforce more difficult. Bad habits are easy to cultivate and very hard to break. After I got dressed, I ate breakfast. At 8:00 am SHARP, I started searching and applying for jobs. At 10:00 am I would take a break and try to go outside for a few minutes to refresh the mind and stretch out the muscles. 10:15 I was back at it until noon. At noon, I would take an hour break. Maybe run an errand or take a longer walk in the neighborhood. After lunch I would get back to it. Some days, I spent my afternoons learning new graphic design, video production skills or practicing skills I already had. I read lots of material to expand my mind and to keep myself up to date and relevant.
I repeated this routine every workday through August and into September. Occasionally I would get a freelance job and those days I would go do that. On September 10th I had a freelance job that kept me out late that night. The next morning I slept in a little. I got up and took my shower and after getting out of the shower I logged into my computer and then I saw on the television the attack on the World Trade Center. I remember turning to my ex-wife and saying, “Getting a full-time job, just got a lot harder.”
After 9/11 I kept my routine, then I got a call from a company I had been pitching some work to. They wanted a video produced for a trade show they would be attending very soon. Originally they thought the show would be cancelled, like some many other things during that time, but this show was going to happen.
I did the video. They were happy and asked if I could do some additional print work for them. I did the job and eventually it became a full-time position and I was with the company for just under 10 years. Can I attribute it all to maintaining a routine? No, but I can assure you it placed me in a position where I was ready when the call came and I was ready when the work became full-time.
In the years since, I have never forgotten that lesson. My advice for dealing with COVID-19 is to keep your routines within the confines of the public health restrictions. Get up, get dressed as if you have to go to work or what ever you would normally do. If you are out of work, dress and act like you have a job. You do. Your job is to look for new opportunities and be ready to go when they come, because they will. refine your skills or learn a new skill. Keep yourself up to date and relevant. Don’t let this event slow you down. Use it to launch yourself into the future.