Work From Home (Without Losing Your Mind) During COVID-19
NOTE: On the Academy podcast, I did an entire audio episode of working from home. The content is similar, but not exactly the same and we go deeper.
In a world where you’re working from home and there’s the allure of your couch and a cold cocktail —how do you get anything done?
On one side, you got all the people “shaming” motivation these days —saying things like:
“You should do nothing.”
“Now is the time to unplug.”
“Don’t acquire a new skill now.”
On the other side, you have those who are “shaming” unplugging right now —saying things like:
“You need to grind 24/7.”
“It’s time to monetize everything.”
“Work like you life depends on it.”
So, who the hell is right?
Well, I’d say neither, or to some degree —both.
Right now, the most important thing you and I can do is to create emotional freedom and use this time wisely.
During the last 9 years of intensely studying what makes people tick, what truly creates emotional freedom, fulfillment and everything in between, it’s going to come from one of two places:
1. Making meaningful progress on what matters to us.
2. Developing the inner ‘game’ that creates fulfillment.
In other words, the best thing you can do for yourself, the people you care about, your mental sanity and your future self is to:
Delete 70% of the noise, focus on the few things that matter, make progress every single day —and then double on the practices and rituals designed to give you emotional freedom, time to think, reflect, disconnect and “be.”
But in a world of distraction, kids, home-schooling and sensationalist news media, this is not only a tough task —it can seem daunting. Which is why unless you make a conscious effort every single day, it likely won’t come to life.
I’ve curated 7 ways you can overcome procrastination as you work from home, creating emotional freedom along the way and using this time to grow in multiple avenues.
Whether that’s re-connecting with your vision, finishing a creative work or asking the tough questions we only tend to ask when things get hard: this can be your time.
Let’s dive in and find out how to work from home without losing your mind during COVID-19.
Step 1: Airplane Mode = Freedom
Right now, the most crucial piece of real estate isn’t found in Laguna Beach, your bank account, or anywhere else —it’s your emotional sanity: the six inches between your ears including thoughts, feelings, emotions, narratives, and inner chatter.
Which means ensuring you start the day on your terms is not optional or can be left to happenstance. It must be deliberate, intentional, thought out. Otherwise, the chaos will win. It will engulf you and spit you out at the bottom of the abyss of anxiety.
So, how do you ensure this doesn’t happen to you?
Commit to starting the day on “Airplane Mode” for anywhere from 15 to 120 minutes —choose what works for you.
This alone will allow you to step into the morning on your terms, process any emotions, and not be beholden to someone else’s stress, anxiety or agenda.
ACTION: Choose a length of time to start your day unplugged on Airplane mode: start small.
Step 2: Craft Your Morning Ritual
So, what do you do during the unplugged time on ‘Airplane Mode’? You do all of the things you used to say you didn’t have time for now that you’re home and don’t have a commute:
You train your body.
You deepen your spirit.
You expand your mind.
You take time to reflect.
You ask the tough questions.
You listen to inspired content.
There are millions of morning routines —keep it simple. The one I teach in most of my programs is called “Daily 3”: where you work on your mind, body and spirit, including:
Mind: study, read, learn and expand your mind with content that makes you think in possibility and growth.
Body: emotions are trapped in the body, often unconscious. Move your body every single day and challenge yourself with intensity.
Spirit: reflection, meditation, quiet time: this is when you sharpen your mental awareness and tap into your higher self.
If you don’t carve out the time and space for a morning ritual, the day will get away from you. Choose one, by hyper intentional and remember: even if it improves your emotional state 10%, isn’t that worth it to you?
ACTION: Commit to a morning ritual that expands your mind, trains your body and deepens your spirit.
Step 3: Identify Your Priorities
What are your top 3 priorities right now?
If you are unable to rattle off the answer quickly, we’ve got some work to do. Today, less is more: with all of my clients, programs and my own work —I have taught the value of identifying 3 priorities or what we’ll refer to as your “Big 3.”
NOTE: We cover all of of this inside the Make 2020 Everything Changed Masterclass, yours free with high definition video and audio here.
Whether that’s a project you want to finish, diving into your own self-care, growing your business or re-connecting with your loved ones —you should only have 1, 2 or 3 priorities right now.
When you know what is most important, you’re able to make fast decisions. You don’t sit in procrastination all day. You don’t ponder aimlessly, wandering towards the time it’s acceptable to have a cocktail (note: that time is now all the time.)
But most importantly: you delete a ton off your plate. Old obligations, projects, expired commitments. This is the season to let go of them and fully exhale.
As the brilliant author David Brooks says:
“Seasons of suffering kick us in the ass. They are the foghorns that blast us out of our complacency and warn us we are headed for the wrong life.”
When you know your priorities —there’s no space left for overwhelm or distraction.
ACTION: Identify your 1, 2 or 3 priorities during this season: be specific and clear.
Step 4: Ditch Your “To Do” List
There’s a stark difference between a prioritized life and a “to do” list, busy life, full of 19 tasks that make you feel productive but aren’t. Given the priorities above —it’s time to get rid of your “to do” list as you work from home.
Instead, brain dump all the possible actions you could do given your Big 3 priorities above, and then highlight the most important that give you leverage.
Remember: the most important is the real needle-moving work that is usually less urgent, but has the highest long-term leverage.
It is not email, social media, or useless tasks that make you “feel” like you’re getting stuff done but are hollow victories. It is not keeping up with everyone else’s agenda or posts. It’s usually the actions you have some resistance towards, because they are meaningful.
Using the Pomodoro method I detailed in The 1% Rule, time-block this action step and watch how this sets the tone for the day.
ACTION: Given your priorities, ask: what is the most important action I can take today towards the (specific) priority?
Step 5: Recover Wisely
Scrolling Instagram, watching political news gossip or arguing with someone online is not recovery. When you work from home, productive recovery can seem impossible when cheap entertainment and empty distraction are three steps away.
Tons of people in the spiritual realm are telling people to “be” during this time and are likely spending 4.5 hours a day connected virtually to things that don’t really matter. They are getting lost in conspiracy theories, arguing with their third cousin about the news and creating more anxiety.
To balance out the work you’ve done above —recover in ways that fuel your mindset, your peace, your connection and gasp, fun.
How? Seek what Abraham Maslow, one of the pioneers of psychology, called “being” practices.
This can be a walk outside if you’re able to go out, reading a great book, attempting to play the guitar even though you’re terrible (raising my hand!), a hot bath, taking a nap, unplugged connection with others, watching a sunset, etc.
ACTION: Make a list of your favorite “recovery” practices and things you love doing. Integrate them into your day.
Step 6: Set Boundaries On Inputs
The Average American worker checks email 88 times a day.
Yeah, that’s asinine —and I get why: email is laced with the dopamine that comes from “checking” it to see what could possibly be there.
Except that’s akin to playing Russian roulette and hoping you don’t stop at the bullet —in this case, an angry email, someone demanding something of you, an invoice that is due and triggers scarcity.
Instead, set strict rules and boundaries around email, social media and empty distraction to protect your mental real estate.
Personally during this crisis, my earliest time I allow myself to check email is 9:00 AM —but I am finding myself push this back to 11 or 12 by doing the work that matters and makes me feel my best.
Even though I run an online business with clients who may need help and guidance —I don’t come online to interact until a certain time and then only do so in time-blocks.
Remember: setting boundaries is the highest form of respect you can have for yourself, your goals, future self and those you care about.
Without rules and boundaries, we say yes to anything and everything —and get caught in the insanity of media that never ends.
ACTION: Set simple, hard rules on your inputs, and commit to them for the next 30 days.
Step 7: Celebrate Like You Mean It
Last, and maybe most important: celebrate your “small” wins along the way every single day.
This practice has been peer-reviewed countless times and backed by research to shift your attention from what’s not working…to what is.
Remember: you and I are the worst people on the planet to recognize our own growth. We can often have grown leaps and bounds and still think we’re stuck. We’ve lost 13 pounds, grew our business 40%, finally stuck to our meditation habit and barely celebrate ourselves.
In my programs like The Arena experience —every Friday, we are celebrating at least 10 wins.
Remember: a small win contains the same ingredients of success as the massive ones and your brain can’t tell the difference.
Even in your most chaotic, stressful days, if you cannot find 3-5 wins —you’re not looking hard enough.
ACTION: Celebrate at least 3 wins every single day and fully own them.
Work From Home (Without Losing Your Mind) During COVID-19
Lastly, please remember:
This is about progress, not perfection.
Celebrate the small victories along the way.
Have fun, be weird, and when it’s time to unplug —do it.
I share these with you because I’m in the midst of all of this with you.
I have my doubts, my fears, and goddamn do I feel for my generation who have now been dealt two once-in-a-lifetime crisis —it brings me to tears thinking about those who are not as blessed as I am.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Robert Greene, who I had the pleasure of spending over an hour with on the Resist Average Academy podcast recently.
“Become the curator of life. Edit, leave out the junk. But when you find something worth keeping, treasure it.”
Now is the time to reflect, to curate, to make progress on what matters —because when we come out of this, you will be proud of yourself for doing so.
Work From Home (Without Losing Your Mind) Resources
During this time, we need all the help we can get. This is a list I sent to my clients inside my programs, but I wanted to share it with you too.
They are the tools I am using on a daily basis to grow, expand and maintain a sense of calm as I work from home during these times.
Audible, the world’s best audiobook platform (sign up here for a free copy of The 1% Rule.)
Brain.FM, one of my favorite tools for focused work.
Skill Share, a place to acquire skills, explore your creativity and learn from some of the best. (This link gives you two free months of premium membership.)
Marinara Timer, a simple online browser that allows you to track your focused work.
If you have any questions on using this time wisely, avoiding procrastination or what to do with your time right now, post to comments below!