3 Business Lessons I’m Still Learning From the Global Pandemic

It’s been over two years since I posted my first video on the internet to offer support to our StartUp Creative community through these ‘unprecedented times’ that rocked the world as we know it. This last week I had the experience of contracting the virus and was knocked for six, unable to work, leave the house and at times eat and drink. 

As I make my recovery and return to stomaching the sight of screens, gathering burst of energy to tackle my to-do list and harness the unpredictable windows of inspiration when they open, I find myself reflecting on what this world-wide collective experience has potentially come to teach us. Here’s where I got to… 

  1. Go slow. Sounds simple right and almost involuntary at times. The world came to a stand still many times over with backed up supply chains, cancelled events and never ending lockdowns.  At times we didn’t have a choice but to do the bare minimum, to get up each day to focus on our mental health first and foremost. I know for me there were times when the business hustle didn’t hold near as much weight as it once did and my priorities lied with making sure the people I loved and my own health and wellbeing was going to be ok. But having had the first full week off work in I can’t remember how long I really feel the positive effects of ‘unplugging the machine (me) at the wall.’ I used to work at such a fast pace. Bouncing from one meeting to the other, answering emails in between and lining up work opportunities with every spare second. This week I’ve noticed that I physically can’t move at the pace I once did and I’m not even mad about it. Taking space between tasks to step away from the computer, stretch, recharge my brain and refuel my energy has been a much needed new routine to my work day. We really don’t need to be moving as fast as we once did and I find myself asking the question if it was ever a sustainable way of operating? Can you lean into the slow lane, expand the space between and embrace a new pace of working? I’m holding firm to the quote ‘manage your focus, not your time’ How can I use my time to be more effective with laser focus rather than pushing out the hours at my desk for the sake of it? 
  2. Boundaries. Do we really need to be always available? Can things/people wait? Is it really urgent? A beautiful change in the business world that I’ve noticed has been the compassion, empathy and understanding of my clients and colleagues when I mention that I am recovering from covid. People are quick to offer their remedies, support and most importantly their patience with the healing process. I for one, am the last to stop and ask ‘if it really needs to be done now?’ But as I’ve noticed my inability to physically do it all, let alone right away I begin to see how hard I pushed myself for deadlines that likely didn’t exist. Boundaries always feel like the last thing I want to do, assuming people will view it as weakness or incompetence. But when you have no choice and you are able to articulate them from a place of vulnerability, honesty and necessity, human nature tends to shine through in it’s most beautiful form. People understand, respect and cooperate and all of a sudden the urgency seems to dissipate. Things will get done but just not with the urgency or pace we once expected them to and I’m going to argue in a more considered and collaborative way. 
  3. Time blocking tasks. A topic I’ve been teaching for years. Time blocking is a way to work when you put all of your similar tasks in the same block of time. The aim is to stay focused and try not to bounce between tasks that require different parts of your brain (practical vs creative). This week I’ve found that small admin tasks that I have spent months putting off because I had bigger and more exciting things to worry about, were the only things I could manage. I’ve spent two days doing minimal creation and instead tending to the tasks that take less brain power and big picture thinking. It’s surprising how much I’ve managed to get done and how quickly considering I’ve spent months procrastinating about them (what a waste of energy). By allowing myself the space to not have to create or inspire but to work through what I could manage on my to-do list I’ve kept my focus on achievable tasks from everyday organisation to setting up spreadsheets. Keeping your focus on one style of task at a time you preserve your cognitive load and can achieve more than by bouncing between different challenge levels. Allowing myself to alleviate the small tasks off my to-do list, I’ve felt more free and inspired to come back to creation – hence this blog. 

Everything in life is happening for us and whilst we at times, can’t see the good in all of the experiences, I certainly didn’t in the thick of it last week, eventually the lessons reveal themselves. If we take the time to zoom out, reflect, learn from them and anchor the lessons for future reference, new ways of doing life and business unfold for the better. 

Stay safe & well. 

Kay 

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The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.

-Seth Godin