Between school closures, mandatory telecommuting policies and changing health guidelines, the coronavirus pandemic has stirred up uncertainty for all as we continue to head into uncharted territory.
“[Each day] is like a game that we’re playing where no one told us the rules,” said Cecilia Gorman of Creative + Talent + Partners during Promax’s live webinar on Thursday. “It makes it difficult to know what move to make because we’ve never been here before…. all of us are figuring out how to operate each day.”
So how do you stay sane, focused and productive during times of uncertainty? Here are six takeaways for what Gorman considers a “defining moment” for everyone:
Get Real with Reality
Things are from normal, and it’s important to recognize that in order to cope, stay focused and set new personal and professional expectations.
“We do that by really feeling what we’re feeling,” she said. “If you wake up feeling really sad one day, feel that feeling.”
Determine a Rhythm and Set Boundaries
“We have a rhythm to the way the universe works. Our brains need rhythm to be able to calm down,” Gorman said.
Part of that rhythm is developing a routine for your new normal to boost productivity. Wake up, make a list of your daily tasks, and work within your typical office hours to make time for yourself and avoid burnout. When it comes to others, respect that everyone’s work shift may not be a “9 to 5” depending on their circumstances, Gorman said.
“Decide how you want to work and then respect the start and stop times of other people.”
When it comes to your sanity, level of focus, productivity or rejuvenation, it’s important to get yourself aligned because, in the end, you’re the only person who can accomplish that, Gorman said.
“You will do no person, project or company any good if you cannot stabilize. You have to be able to get yourself calm and collected. Maybe you have this down right now, but it’s going to get harder.”
If you’re feeling particularly emotional or stressed one day, take the measures you need to stay grounded, whether it’s making a list of what you always want to be—which helps provide structure and rhythm for how you’ll operate—or sharing how you’re feeling with colleagues.
“If you keep it inside, you will burst. You are like a steam valve and all of that stress and anxiety and emotion will build up in you if you do not have a release valve. “
Similar to a tip by EVP of Fox Creative Advertising Scott Edwards, Gorman believes that there’s no such thing as communicating too much in our current circumstances. Touch base often, ask questions as they pop up, and avoid getting into “assumption mode.”
“People need facts, clarity and assurance, and those things come via communicating… The way that we communicate right now is going to be so critical to preserve the sanctity of how the team operates.”
Communication is also essential to our own well-being, she says. In stressful or uncertain times, it’s vital to not only recognize how you’re feeling, but communicate those in close quarters with you.
“We all need to agree to be a little bit more ‘share-y’ about the feelings and emotions we are feeling right now. Acknowledge how you’re feeling with the people you are working with. The only way we’re going to get through is if we’re empathetic to what we’re collectively going through.”
Keep the End in Mind
Although the end of the tunnel for the coronavirus pandemic seems far off, like with any crisis, one method of coping is to envision the end point.
“For now, that end can be we are safe and we are healthy. Picturing that future gives us grounds for what we’re going to be doing today. Don’t agonize over what we can’t control.”
Use it as Practice
Trying times allow individuals to become more polished, capable and equipped than before, Gorman said.
“I have never been put through a test of this kind of resiliency. [It’s] a challenge of a substantial size [and] requires a mindset that switches to problem solving. We can be victims or we can be empowered. We have that choice to move into action, move into problem solving. Complaining and getting paralyzed does not.”
Rather than focusing on the negative side, use this as an opportunity to be a better leader, employee, colleague, family member or friend for when things return to normal.
“Every day is an opportunity for us to practice patience, empathy, communication, understanding, clarifying. You don’t have to know all the answers. Give yourself a little bit of grace. Just try to be a little bit better tomorrow.”
Check out Cecilia Gorman’s full session below, and view the upcoming lineup of Promax’s virtual sessions here.