We are in unchartered territory.
The Corona Virus is spreading across the United States; businesses are closing, and most of us are finding ourselves working out of an impromptu home office. One of the things that happen in a crisis is the typical business pursuits change in priority to give way to essential activities. Operational tasks and responsibilities take precedence over everything else.
Taking advantage of our current situation is something we can leverage for dynamic gains in the future. You may not think you can use your isolation time to branch out and grow your network; however, I think it is a perfect time to do so. Just like those who are buying up cheap stock right now because the market is crashing, you should be initiating conversation with those who otherwise may not answer your email. In today’s Good Reads Wednesday, I cover some things to do instead of binge-watching your favorite Netflix show. Execute some simple actions can build a strong foundation for the eventual recovery of the planet and, at the same time, set you up for greater success.
Win #1. Taking Advantage of the Zero Inbox.
A strange thing happened to me yesterday. I had gone through all of my unread emails by mid-morning, including ones from a month ago. I also was able to unsubscribe to a bunch of newsletters I no longer read. Many of us have the time to sort things out as we navigate the virtual workday. The strange thing that happened was as new emails came in, I read and responded almost immediately. So, I tried an experiment.
I hypothesized that if I had done this, perhaps others also have a zero inbox. At least they may be more aware of new emails. With that in mind, I looked up ten of my contacts whom I have not communicated in over a year. I sent them each a simple email with the subject, “Checking in on you in this crazy time.” In the body, I wrote sincere wishes to them and their families regarding their health and safety. I ended each email, asking them to reach out to me if I can be of any assistance. At the very least, let them know that in this time of panic and crisis, I had thought of them.
The response, all ten answered back within an hour and had wished me the same. I then followed up with each saying I know priorities are very different now, but if they wanted to “get together” virtually, we should catch up. My experiment has yielded positive results. It has spontaneously renewed my relationship with these ten individuals. I have built equity with each of them in a time of crisis. I will stick out in their memories as having reached out when few others did.
As I have become more responsive because of the forced virtual office, so have others. I am reading emails I may not have under normal circumstances. It seems to me others are doing the same. Leverage this unique time to get out in front of this. Do not lock yourself in a fortress of solitude, instead, branch out. Reach out to those you have not in a while. Communicate with those you have wanted to speak with but have not had the time. You will find yourself with renewed relationships and quite possibly with new opportunities.
Win #2. Time to Increase Your Tech IQ
I thought it funny when local school districts had to shut schools down for a day to teach teachers how to use Google Classroom. With many working from home, knowing how to navigate and enhance your knowledge of the virtual workspace is vital. Now is the time to experiment, learn, and increase your skills of the technology available.
You can experiment, and people will understand as the learning curve will be in the same most of your peers. Taking a class online to learn additional functions of some software can make you a more efficient virtual worker. Exploring and understanding seldom used functionality can give you a leg up on peers and your competition. Learning about plug-ins and add-ons for commonly used software can make you a virtual genius. Knowing how to use Google Hangouts, Zoom Video, and group FaceTime (just to name a few) can help you stay connected with your peers and teams. This article by Roberto Torres gives a brief overview of the virtual office tools people are using. https://www.ciodive.com/news/tech-tools-remote-work-coronavirus/573603/
Do not waste this opportunity. Your competitors and peers are taking this time of negative news and attitudes and turning it into positive personal gains. Learn how to share ideas on Google Docs, notate, change, proof, collaborate on an Adobe InDesign or Acrobat document. Almost all current software has some sort of online collaboration functionality. Learn how to use it. Take the time to learn something new. Check out this article by Vartika Kashyap which highlights some of the best collaboration tools out there right now: https://www.proofhub.com/articles/best-online-collaboration-tools-business/
Win #3. Reboot Opportunity
About four years ago, my work computer’s hard drive blew up. Through a stroke of luck, I lost everything. I say a “stroke of luck” because being forced into a new computer with no old files or clutter was a blessing in disguise. I was able to form new habits for filing digital documents, and I had a clean email inbox, as well as no old programs clogging up my hard drive. It was nice to “reboot” my digital world and start with a clean slate.
With this virus crisis, we each have an opportunity to reboot. We can take the time we have working from home to develop new workflows. We can explore the use of new tools and reset our old ways to formulate new ways of working. The inertia of how we “always do things” and the habits they form make it difficult to change and improve. Typically, we need an event to disrupt us (like a fried computer hard drive) to change our habits. We now have an event (the Corona Virus) to help us break our regular work habits. We need to take advantage of this time and not let it slip away. Most of us are having to change the way we do our everyday work anyway to work from home or in an isolated location. Use this chance to enhance your work habits and break from old inefficient ones.
The old cliche of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is very relevant right now. There are so many negative and depressing things going on, and it is difficult to see the positive. Many people may feel this event is more significant than just getting some lemons and making the best of it. I disagree. Everything you do to improve and live with a positive mindset will have a direct result on your life. Typically, we should always look for ways to become better every day, but we never seem to have the time. This change in daily routines, this disruptive time, is the perfect excuse to renew ourselves and force a “reboot” to become better for ourselves, families, and peers.