How to Conduct Business During a Pandemic

First off, I want to say I’m writing this article for me. Primarily I want to know how to conduct business during a pandemic. I also want to acknowledge here for some people they won’t be able to conduct business. If someone makes a living that requires in-person contact, a cuddle therapist for instance, they won’t be able to go about business as usual. There are many people who are or will be impacted by a pandemic either through a slowdown in their business or a temporary halt altogether.

A question on my mind is what can be done for people who don’t have the luxury to work from home? If anyone has ideas, I’d love to hear them. My university set up an emergency fund for students who now find themselves forced to return home.

But let’s say you can work from home. How do you ensure you’re as productive as if you worked in an office? In my more than a decade of experience of working from home first as a journalist and now a freelance content writer, I have some tips to share.

1.) Feel Your Feelings

First and foremost, feel your feelings. These are not normal times. Things are scary. Even if you’re not worried about the coronavirus yourself, you likely know others who are worried about it. Fear is contagious. So is panic. Let yourself cry and shake and scream or whatever it is you need to do to move the fear. Otherwise, the fear stays stuck in your body like a whirlpool sucking much of your energy.

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After your freak out, take a deep breath and remember your resilience. Remind yourself of all the hard times you’ve already gone through and how you’re still here. You made it! You wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t. Also remember human history is filled with episodes of pandemics. This happens. I’m not saying pandemics come without costs because they do. Millions of people die, which is tragic, AND millions of people also live to tell the tale. It’s likely your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918. Some of them died, but more of them lived. That’s worth remembering.

2.) Maintain Set Hours

Working from home it may feel like you have all the time in the world, that you can work whenever, and that’s true. But that mentality is also how you can idle the day away and not accomplish anything. You don’t have to keep the same hours you had while in the office – for instance you could work 9 to 5 instead of 10 to 6 – but set aside certain hours for work. I’m more of a 10 to 6 gal myself and that means from 10 to 6 I’m working. I’ll take a break in the middle of the day for lunch, but if I have work to do, those are the hours I’m working.

Having the mental boundaries around when it’s work time and when it’s playtime will help you stay productive. Otherwise it’s all too easy to say, “I’ll do it later.” As my parents often said, “Later never comes.”

freelance content writer
Photo by https://photos.icons8.com.

3.) Keep Your Rituals

If you have certain rituals around going to work, keep them. Maybe not the ones that involve going to a coffee shop, but the ones like taking a dog for a walk or going for a run. The normalcy of your routine will help you feel like it’s any other workday, because it is, minus the location.

This also means changing out of your pajamas, for some of you. Some people revel in being able to stay in their pjs all day, but I find getting dressed helps me step into work mode. There’s a clear delineation between sleep and relaxation time versus work time. Similarly, I find getting out of bed to work makes me more productive. There’s a space in my house that’s my work space. All my serious writing takes place at my desk, which means I associate my desk with work and the rest of my house with relaxing. You may not have a desk, but do you have a table or a counter top? Sequester a section of your place specifically for work and that will help with productivity.

freelance content writer

4.) Minimize Distractions

Working from home it’s easier to get distracted – your phone doesn’t have to be on silent and there’s that Netflix special you wanted to watch. And it’s such a beautiful day. Wouldn’t it be better to go for a hike? If you’re someone who can work in that way, more power to you. But I think that’s the trouble of working at home for many people – it’s too easy to get distracted.

Minimize distractions by silencing your phone because hey, you’re at work remember? However, if you normally keep your phone on at work, then do that. Whatever method works for you to minimize distractions when you’re at the office, employ the same strategies when you’re at home. You can give in to all the tantalizing distractions after you’ve accomplished your work for the day. Luckily for you, there’s no commute to take into account.

What are some tips you have for working at home? Let me know in the comments. As always, if you need any writing help, reach out. I’m here.

Everything Has Its Own Timing

One of the most frustrating parts for me about running my own business, and really if I’m honest, life in general, is how long things take. I’m the type of person who zooms off like a rocket after the word “go.” Coming from my journalism background, I’m used to ceaseless deadlines and a swift pace. When I contact someone for an interview, we speak soon and the story moves ahead. Or if the person doesn’t respond to my interview request, I write the article anyway without comments from them. Regardless, the story is going live at a certain day and time.

Freelance writer Oakland

Now that I’m mostly out of the journalism world and writing for small businesses, everything moves much slower. If someone indicates interest in working together, we could spend weeks going back and forth about the details. When I turn in a blog to a client, unlike with a news article, there’s no rush. The blog may not go live for weeks or perhaps months. People take their time because they can. This is a complete reversal from how I used to operate and it’s a huge adjustment. That’s a polite way of saying it bugs the heck out of me. I’m probably not supposed to admit that, but it’s the truth. I realize I can’t control or change other people, I can only manage myself. I’m the one who’s impatient and has certain expectations. And that means I’m the one who has to adjust.

Thus far, I think about advice I heard ages ago: However long you think something will take, double it. For me, I think I need to triple it. That way when a project takes significantly longer than it “should,” I won’t get as bent out of shape because I modulated my expectations. Problem solved! Sort of.

The reality behind impatience for me is I’m a compulsive doer. It feels better/safer/more gratifying to act all the time. It’s hard to slow down. And where I live, hustling is prized. We admire people who work hard, who do a lot. I haven’t seen an award for sitting around all day listening to the birds. I haven’t read any newspaper articles about a person who went for a walk and made a cup of tea later. No. We want achievement. We want people who are doing extraordinary things. Given that atmosphere, it can be hard to sit back and twiddle your thumbs, but inevitably there comes a time when everyone just has to wait. A time when things are not moving. Even in the news room there were days we really didn’t have anything to write about. Or at the very least, we couldn’t write an article because we were waiting on more information.

freelance blogger Oakland, CA

What’s helping me adjust to a new sort of timing is thinking about surrender. Surrender means to stop fighting. How can I stop fighting the reality of slow business sometimes? How can I work with it? How can I embrace that there will be days I won’t have anything to do? That sometimes my hands are tied? Instead of rushing into action, or creating work for myself, I can relax, let go, and trust that everything has its own timing. Everything has its own flow. Including business. And while I’m waiting, I can listen to the birds chirp, go for a walk, and make myself a cup of tea.

What about you? How do you cope with waiting? Let me know in the comments below.

More on Synchronicity

In my last post, I wrote that what you’re looking for is looking for you. Today I had affirmation of that. I called a woman to interview her for a project I’m working on and she asked me if I’m a professional writer (I was calling on behalf of another business). I answered affirmatively and it turns out she’s been looking for a writer! I don’t know if we’ll be a good match, but it was nice to get that wink from the universe. Especially after this week when things felt tough. You know how it goes — you email people, you leave messages, you try different strategies for lead generation, and nothing works. All you’re left with is silence.

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In the face of that silence I felt discouraged (understandably), but today happened. I am reminded there is magic and mystery in the universe. There’s a proverbial matchmaker in the sky who wants to connect people. Sometimes that happens out of the blue and sometimes that happens as a result of research and perseverance. Mostly I’m just grateful it happens.

I don’t have any tips today, just my personal experience that I’m mentioning as a reminder to myself and others that life isn’t always scientific and rational. Sometimes it’s mysterious and baffling, and on my down days I’d like to remember the possibility of what could be.

Have you had any experiences like mine? I’d love to hear them! Tell me in the comments below.

What You’re Looking for is Looking for You

In previous posts I gave practical advice about how to grow your web traffic — specifically blogging and the importance of storytelling, but I also provided tips for writing better. Today’s post is a pep talk.

There comes a time in every person’s life (whether they’re entrepreneurs or not) where they feel discouraged. “Will I ever find what I’m looking for?” It could be a job or a partner or client/customer. Doubts set in and the person may give up hope. They’re trying so hard, they’re searching so tirelessly, all to no avail. Something I remind myself is what I’m searching for is also searching for me.

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Author and spiritual teacher Doreen Virtue appeared on Jaden Sterling’s blogtalk radio show several years ago to share some insights. One of the things she said was, “As much as you’re looking for something or someone, they’re looking for you too. Whether it’s a soulmate or a job or a home to live in. It’s all law of attraction.” She recounted a story of how a few weeks prior she created an oracle card deck (kind of like a nicer, gentler version of tarot cards) that her publisher wanted on the market right away.

Typically, it takes an artist a year and a half to paint the 44 pictures needed to accompany the text of the oracle cards. Doreen needed something right away and knew exactly what she wanted. She didn’t know who the artist should be, but she had a picture of the artwork in her mind. She went to her computer and said, “Angels, I need to find this artist but I need her to have 44 images available.” Doreen found an artist immediately and sent her a personal email. The artist said she previously had jobs that were really high paying but they all dried up. She was working for magazines creating art she didn’t enjoy. She made a new year’s resolution that she would never again compromise in her artwork and say no to all jobs unless they involved her true passions. Doreen contacted the artist within 20 days of the New Year with a big job to not only license her artwork, but license 44 pieces of her artwork that would give her enough money to survive.

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“That’s how the universe works,” Doreen said.

The same day I heard that story I settled down in my living room to watch a movie that sat on my coffee table for literally a month. Every time I thought about watching the movie previously my lip curled up and I said, “Meh.” But that night I felt it was time. I won’t tell you the movie because I don’t want to ruin the plot for anyone, but a very tiny piece of what happened is at one point a character in the movie says to another, “You’ve been looking for me, but for the past year I’ve been looking for you.” I cried in that moment — it was so sweet, so poignant to think I’m not the only one searching.

As a business owner as well as a person, frankly, I think I have to do everything. I have to go out in the world and find clients. I’m the one searching, pitching, researching, visualizing, etc., but Doreen’s story reminds me I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one searching, pitching, researching, visualizing, etc. What I’m looking for is also looking for me, and that means clients too. There are people out there who would be thrilled to work with me and vice versa.

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The same goes for you as well. What you have to offer, people out there want. It may seem like you have to do all the work to find them, but you don’t, because they’re also looking for you. Our job is to boost our chances of meeting each other.  What can you do to help facilitate that? Tell me in the comments below.