When you were younger, did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut?
Perhaps you wanted to boldly go where no person had gone before, which makes sense as you eventually landed on fundraising. But did you ever give any thought to the fact that astronauts spend extraordinary amounts of time inside? A situation many of us are finding ourselves in right now.
Our world today is changing. And many of us are turning to the internet to learn how to cope with this change.
Sometimes you stumble upon an article and it really resonates with you. This happened to me recently when I read I Spent a Year in Space, and I Have Tips on Isolation to Share by Scott Kelly. Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut who spent nearly a year on the International Space Station, identified several strategies to stay productive while in isolation.
Here are my three key takeaways from an isolation expert:
1. Follow A Schedule
You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment.
I’m a firm believer in tip No.1: Follow a schedule.
For instance, I’ve always been an early riser and continue to wake up at 4:30 AM every day—even though I’m no longer commuting to work, taking the kids to school or hitting the gym for an early morning CrossFit session.
I opt for early mornings because I’m a creature of habit, but I also know that keeping a routine offers many benefits. Here are just a few:
- Increases efficiency
- Reduces stress
- Saves time
- Decreases procrastination
- Aids goal achievement
During times of crisis, it’s important to focus on what you can control, and let go of what you can’t. Thankfully, your schedule is something you can manage (for the most part).
A 2020 goal of mine was, and still is, to stay organized. In my efforts to accomplish this, I began using a Full Focus Planner. Their mission: “Your to-do list shouldn’t overwhelm you, it should inspire you.” In addition to keeping you on schedule, the Full Focus Planner uses the Daily Big 3 planning framework so you never lose sight of your One Big Thing. It also helps track annual and quarterly goals on a daily basis so you never lose sight of the big picture.
2. Pace Yourself
When you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it. Living in space, I deliberately paced myself because I knew I was in it for the long haul — just like we all are today.
Are your days starting to blend together? You may even find yourself feeling like Bill Murray’s character Phil in “Groundhog Day.” (This past Sunday I tuned into my church’s online sermon, which was actually inspired by this movie and the ways Phil tried to find freedom from his monotony.)
Burnout can happen to any of us, but we may be even more susceptible to it now, living and working (and possibly homeschooling, exercising, etc.) in the same space day after day. Some of us are struggling with an excess of alone time, while others are struggling with a lack of alone time, but we are all acclimating to change.
Learn to identify when you need a break, and actually take it. (That email can wait until after you’ve had your much needed daily walk.) If you’re not one to take breaks, start scheduling them into your day. Here are some ways to make the most of your break:
- Change your scenery—Go for a walk or take lunch outside with a midday picnic.
- Get moving—For short breaks, a quick stretch or a couple of laps around your house will suffice.
- Don’t cut your breaks short—Set a timer and stay out of your inbox until time is up.
- Do something you enjoy—This sounds simple, but how often do you actually incorporate a hobby into your breaks? Start learning a new skill or try an old favorite such as journaling, biking, cooking/baking, crafting, playing an instrument or listening to music.
- Find out what schedule works best for you—Not all breaks are created equal. Read more break taking strategies here.
We are in the midst of a marathon, not a sprint. Above all, show yourself—and others—grace; we all deserve it. Remember, it’s time to show our human side.
3. Take Time to Connect
Scientists have found that isolation is damaging not only to our mental health, but to our physical health as well, especially our immune systems.
I believe there is always a silver lining. In this case, it’s additional time to connect with family, co-workers and new and old friends—and the variety of ways we have available to do so.
At Stelter, our internal teams have been utilizing tools such as Microsoft Teams, Trello and Google Docs to stay in sync. These systems were created for online collaboration; use them to your advantage!
Our sales team has also enjoyed a few virtual happy hours via Zoom and GoToMeeting. In fact, in celebration of National Beer Day yesterday, we had an all-company virtual happy hour, complete with some trivia.
Looking to spice up your next meeting? Try out a theme! Some ideas: gameday, luau, pajama party or 80s. Other, more serious, meeting themes include relaxation and wellness, play and creativity, overcoming obstacles or teamwork.
On a more personal note, my 70-year-old mother and I have moved our family game nights online with the help of jackboxgames.com. (The kids love it!) Some of our favorites are Fibbage, Quiplash and Drawful 2.
In search of more innovative ways to use technology to connect? We love these easy hacks from people who work from home.
How are you surviving isolation? We’re all in this together. Reveal your secrets below!