Week 6: A Few Tips for Staying Calm During COVID-19

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I am, once again, throwing together my weekly post at the last minute on Monday evening. This isn’t because of a lack of lack of words from last week. I wrote more than 4,500 words last week. It’s because of the “COVID-19 fever” I caught last week and, if I’m being honest, I’m only just now coming down from.

Catching the COVID-19 fever was actually pretty unexpected for me. Since I live in Taiwan, I’ve been paying pretty close attention to this thing since January, maybe even December. I’ve known that this was going to be a BIG deal for a long time. What I wasn’t prepared for was how I’d feel about everyone else not thinking it was a big deal. A comment from a friend a couple weeks back kind of sent me into a “HEY! THIS IS A BIG DEAL!” frenzy. Then Trump finally said it was a big deal but… I don’t think it was really sinking in yet. I’m sure people thought that he was taking the necessary steps to keep things from being a big deal. Well… now the COVID-19 tsunami is finally hitting the shore and… well… wait a minute… I’m ranting… wasn’t this supposed to be a post about staying calm? Let’s get back to that. I actually just came up with the idea of making this one of those “[Insert number] Tips” posts. I don’t think I’ve ever written one of those before. Well… let’s jump into it!

#1 – Timebox Your COVID-19 Time

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What is timeboxing? Quite simply it’s setting a fixed amount of time for completing a task. It’s something that’s used inside of fancy project management methodologies, but it’s something you can use as well. I just so happened to have been doing a timeboxing experiment when I caught the COVID-19 fever. This timeboxing experiment is what kept me producing at least 500 words a day towards my book, even in the midst of being obsessed with COVID-19 (making memes, watching news, getting updated numbers).

Today I realized that I need to actually timebox the time I spend on COVID-19 or if I catch myself mindlessly drifting into COVID-19 mode during some downtime to set a hard limit on how much time I spend there (5 minutes for example).

If you too have caught COVID-19 fever and find it consuming an unhealthy amount of time consider timeboxing it. Perhaps a little time in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Or maybe even just once all at once at night. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Experiment!

#2 – Master the Ability to Develop Daily Habits

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I’ve actually already become a master of daily habits! If you’ve found yourself stuck in quarantine or worried about what to do if you get quarantined, take up the hobby of habit making. Habit making is actually VERY VERY VERY simple. The major problem with habit making is everything you’ve heard about habit making is probably incorrect or slightly flawed. Like “It only takes X number of days to make a new habit.” Any number you insert there is wrong. It depends on the person and the habit!

If you decide to take on making daily habits, here’s what you should do.

Choose a tiny habit to begin with. That’s right! I just wrote about tiny habits a couple weeks ago. I highly recommend checking out that podcast episode if you want to go into more depth.

Here are a couple tiny habits you could try.

  • Meditating for 1 minute a day
  • Making your bed every morning
  • Playing the guitar
  • Drawing
  • Journaling

Keep the rule for success EXTREMELY tiny. I drew a picture every day for 108 days and I made a straight line the minimum. If you decide to play the guitar make picking it up and strumming once the minimum. Boom. Easy.

Now you just need a way to track it. You could do it in Excel or Google Sheets, on a calendar, by downloading an app (here’s the one I’m using on Android), in a journal, by putting coins from one jar into another one… you do you!

And… that’s it! You’ll actually know when it becomes a habit. It might take you 18 days or it might take you 54. Just stick with it! If you ever feel like increasing the difficulty go right ahead! What’s important is that you decrease the difficulty IMMEDIATELY if you ever feel like you might start slipping. The goal here is consistency, not quality. Quality comes later.

#3 – Connect with Friends

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This is the final tip I’m going to share as I’ve run out of time in my timebox!

Start a COVID-19 group someone (I chose Facebook), throw your close friends in it and… stay connected. There are a million different ways you could configure this group. What I decided to do was create a single “How is everyone doing today?” post every day. No one else can post but anyone can leave a comment. I just want to make sure people have a built in outlet if anything major happens.

My wife didn’t like my approach so she created her own group where anyone can post. That’s good too! However you do it, figure out a way to build a community and stay connected.

#4 – Insert Your Own in the Comments

Like I said… I’m all out of time! If you have something you’d like to add to the list, drop it in the comments! I’m sure there’s a ton of live streamed content, classes to take, hobbies to take up…

Anyhow, that’s it for me today! Maybe I’ll actually be prepared next week but in this COVID-19 world… who knows!

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